*Please note this post was originally posted in January 2008

Now that Martin from moneysavingexpert.com it pays to watch has given me the go ahead to give a link to my blog on there I want to welcome over my friends from MSE.

We have a great foodie forum over there and it got me thinking ‘what is your least expensive meal’ I can answer this myself straight away – its cheesy pasta. The cheesy pasta is a great comfort food and we have it at least once a week as the children love it.

I’ll work out some costs first of all and then I’ll put up the recipe.

Dried pasta.

The one from Aldi is 100% durum wheat and is a good quality one. I use half a bag for the four of us so that works out at about 30p

Tin of tomatoes.

Lidl had them on offer at just 15p a tin so I bought loads! They have the same tomato content in as more expensive brands so worth looking at when the 15p offer is on.

For the cheese sauce.

I used buttermilk from butter-making. I had frozen lots of this at Christmas when I was able to get cream reduced to 10p for a big carton. I froze it in half pint size bags to make it easier to defrost and use. I use about one and a half pints so I shall say the cost was 25p

Butter for the roux approx 5p

Flour for the roux. I mill my own so lets say 5p for the wheat.

Cheese. I do use quite a lot in the sauce and as a topping so 40p should easily cover that.

Of course I use salt/pepper etc but I’m not going to cost those in.

So I make that a grand total of £1.20 or just 30p per head!

Can you beat that? I’d love to hear your thrifty signature dish.

You may notice from the picture that I added ham to this dish… Ok so I cheated, I popped in a packet of sandwich ham. Add 50p to the total cost… but it is delicious!

Here is the full recipe.

Half a bag of dried pasta

One tin of chopped tomatoes

One quarter of a small block of cheese. I used ordinary coloured cheddar.

Approx a pint and a half of white sauce – Mix together butter and flour to make a roux. Slowly add your warmed milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Let it come to a simmer for a few minutes to cook the flour.

Make up the white sauce and pop a pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it for about ten minutes until still slightly firm inside (it will cook a bit more under the grill so don’t over cook it to start with)

When the pasta is cooked. Drain off the water and pop it back on the stove. Add the tomatoes to the pasta and heat gently for a couple of minutes.

By this time your white sauce should be simmering gently. Add most of the cheese to the sauce, reserving a little for the topping.

Pour the cheese sauce on top of the pasta/tomato mix and stir well. You can add ham or peppers, whatever you fancy at this point.

Pop the whole lot into a heatproof dish, add the remaining cheese as a topping. If you want it an extra crunchy topping, try adding a squashed up bag of plain crisps.

Put it under the grill until the cheese melts and bubbles up. You may want to serve it with a salad or some fresh bread but its rather filling on its own so I serve it heaped up into pasta bowls as a main meal.

Have fun and let me know how you get on making it.