RECIPE: Lean ‘n’ Green Pasta | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This lean ‘n’ green pasta recipe cost me less than 25p per person.
What are the benefits? This dish is suuuper high in antioxidants, very low in fat and somewhere between two to three of your five a day.

When you’re trying to eat healthier, it’s very easy to get swept up in the diet culture of calorie counting and restrictive eating, and I’ve had to really train myself out of those habits (I still fall off the wagon, believe me).

Nowadays, when I want to eat a little healthier, I just try to think of obvious changes, like making sure you eat your five a day, cutting down on processed food and, of course, eating your greens.

Recently I made a very conscious effort to inject some more “green” into our diets. It’s not my favourite colour to serve up on the plate, but many green veggies are super good for you, full of health benefits and definitely worth making space for. For me, it’s about combining these sorts of ingredients with things I love and eat regularly, like pasta.

That’s how I came up with this lean ‘n’ green pasta recipe, which can be pretty much made up with any leftover greens you’ve got at home, a spoonful of pesto and whatever pasta shape you can find. I’ve used broccoli, peas and kale, but these are totally interchangeable!

300g Dried Pasta
1 Large Onion, Chopped
8 Small Broccoli Florets
50g Curly Kale
300g Garden Peas
2 tbsp Green Pesto
1 Vegetable Stock Cube

I know not everyone is the biggest fan of green veggies and their often unique flavour, so a great way to disguise this is using plenty of garlic (dried or fresh), salt and pepper, as well as the pesto, to season this dish.


1. Put on a large pan of salted water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to simmering and cook the pasta according to packet instructions (mine takes around 15 minutes!).

2. In a decent-sized frying pan, throw in the onion and garlic, cook for a couple of minutes until soft and then reduce the heat.

3. Add the broccoli, crumble in the vegetable stock cube and scatter in some salt and pepper. Pour in 200ml (or around one quarter of a standard mug) of water and simmer for around 5 minutes.

4. Throw in the peas and kale and finish cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the liquid dries up.

5. Drain the pasta, combine with the veggies and stir in a couple of spoonfuls of pesto, and that’s that!



RECIPE: Quick ‘n’ Easy Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me less than 50p per person.
What are the benefits? This quick ‘n’ easy bacon mac ‘n’ cheese recipe is relatively low in both sugar and salt but very high in calcium

I’m not gonna lie, this definitely isn’t my most nutritious recipe to date. I mean, it’s mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon – what did you expect?!

Okay, sure, so it might not be packed with your five a day, completely fat free, bla bla bla. It’s not a recipe bursting with obvious health benefits; but that doesn’t make it “bad”. In my world, bad food doesn’t exist.

There are so many other great things about tucking into this dish, like:

  • It’s so comforting, like a big, cheesy hug on a plate that sometimes you just need.
  • Its flavours aren’t too big or bold, making it perfect for introducing kids to fresh, home-cooked meals.
  • You can swap most ingredients for alternatives (we used facon – fake bacon – and soy milk, still tasted great) to make vegan and veggie versions.
  • You only need to keep an eye on it for 15 minutes before slinging it into the oven to do most of the work, so it’s not too much effort.

See, this food is good for you in so many others ways – mostly, your tastebuds!

Ovenproof dish full of bacon mac 'n' cheese topped with breadcrumbs
Ovenproof dish full of bacon mac ‘n’ cheese topped with breadcrumbs

300g Macaroni Pasta
4 Rashers of Bacon (fat trimmed off if possible)
1 Mug of Grated Cheese (reduced fat if possible!)
1 Mug of Milk
1 tbsp Plain Flour
1 tsp Butter or Spread
1 Slice of Bread (left out for a little while to go stale if possible)

The cheese sauce is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple of sneaky pinches of seasoning that really help bring it to life. In the pan with the cheese and flour, add a touch of paprika, mixed herbs, salt, pepper and a little mustard if you’ve got some – trust me, even if you aren’t a big fan of mustard it really makes a difference! I also added some garlic, salt and pepper in with the onion and bacon (but only a tiny bit of salt because the bacon is quite salty already!).


1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni according to packet instructions (mine took 13 minutes, check yo’ own packet).

2. Meanwhile, fry the onion and bacon in a pan for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat with some garlic, salt and pepper until the bacon is thoroughly cooked (the same timing applies when using facon, i.e. veggie bacon).

3. For the last 5 minutes while everything else is cooking, stir (most of) the grated cheese, flour, paprika, salt and pepper together in pan, pour in the milk and butter, place on a low heat with a pinch of mixed herbs and a teaspoon of mustard, and stir continuously until the sauce thickens.

4. Drain the pasta, combine with the onion and bacon, and then pour over the sauce. Stir until everything is mixed together.

5. Pour the whole lot into a large ovenproof dish, crumble up the slice of bread to make breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top with the last of the cheese, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Bacon mac ‘n’ cheese

RECIPE: Chicken and Broccoli Pasta | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 2
How much does it cost? This recipe cost less than £1 per person.
What are the benefits? This chicken and broccoli pasta recipe provides at least one of your five a day, as well as being a great source of protein and vitamins.

Oh great, it’s another boring pasta recipe, big yawn – right?


This is anything but just another boring pasta recipe – this pasta is full of succulent chicken and fresh broccoli with a helping of salty, punchy pesto stirred through long ribbons of tagliatelle.

I’m actually not the biggest fan of broccoli myself, but I know it’s really rich in vitamins, iron, fibre and all those lovely things that make a pretty good argument for eating your greens – even if you don’t always want to!

Honestly, even before I made it I spent basically the entire day dreaming about this mound of pasta because I just KNEW it’d be delicious. I was right, of course (I always am – ask my boyfriend, he knows all too well!) but I still didn’t expect it to be so mouth-watering and gorgeously comforting.

When calculating costs using chicken thighs, this recipe came to just under £1 per person, which is great. However, we use “fake chicken” in our house (i.e. Quorn) which can make this recipe significantly cheaper. More common pasta shapes, such as penne or spaghetti, also cost a little less.

I’d love to go to Italy and eat nothing but fresh pasta dishes morning, noon and night – but, until then, my own homemade versions will have to do! 🍝

Check out my other pasta recipes, like red lentil bolognese or three-ingredient pasta bake, for more carb-based inspo!


4 Chicken Thighs, Meat Removed from the Bone and Chopped
1/2 Broccoli, Florets Broken Off or Chopped
1 Onion, Sliced
4 Mushrooms, Sliced
2 tbsp Pesto (reduced fat if possible)
1 Vegetable or Chicken Stock Cube
140g Tagliatelle (or any pasta)

When you’re frying the onion, toss in a little garlic (fresh or dried, your call). When the chicken is cooking through, season everything with a good dose of salt and pepper and then, just before serving, throw in some dried parsley (fresh if you’ve got it) for good measure.


1. In a large pan with a touch of cooking spray or oil, fry the onion for a minute or two. Then add the chicken and cook until the outsides are sealed and no more pink is showing.

2. Bring down the heat a little, add the mushrooms and 1/2 a small cup of water to the pan and then simmer gently for 10 – 15 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Don’t be afraid to cut a piece open and make sure to be on the safe side!

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and the stock cube, throw in the pasta (not literally!) and cook according to packet instructions – usually around the 10 minute mark.

4. For the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, chuck your broccoli in with the chicken.

5. Once pretty much all the liquid has gone from the frying pan, stir through your pesto and herbs for a minute or two more.

6. Drain the pasta, combine everything together and serve!

Tips & Tricks

  • As I mentioned before, this recipe can easily be made cheaper – and probably healthier! – by swapping out the chicken for meat-free substitutes or other vegetables.


  • This pasta isn’t made with a “sauce”, really, so a good way of stopping it from becoming too dry is to chop up some fresh tomatoes and stir them in with the pesto. The juice will lift it up and make the whole thing a little lighter.


  • I’ve used fresh broccoli here, but you can absolutely use frozen to make life easier. 🥦

chicken and broccoli pasta

RECIPE: 3-Ingredient Pasta Bake | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me less than 50p per person.
What are the benefits? This simple pasta bake is suitable for vegetarians, is low in fat and is high in fibre.

Using only three main ingredients to make a proper family dinner is tough! It was tricky coming up with something that would 1) fill everyone up, 2) taste great, and 3) stick to the three ingredient rule. But I think I’ve cracked it!

What I love about pasta is that it’s so versatile, and that’s been proven once again with this dish. Using just a carton of passata and a ball of light mozzarella to go with it, this pasta bake couldn’t get any simpler; you just need a dash of seasoning to bring it to life! 🌿

I prefer using a ball of light mozzarella; the price difference is minimal (only 4p in my local supermarket!) so I’d recommend doing the same if you’re trying to make this a healthier pasta bake. Using low fat mozzarella, wholewheat pasta and a whole carton of passata, split between four people, comes to less than 30p per person – result!


280g Wholewheat Pasta
500g Passata
1 Ball of Mozzarella (reduced fat if possible)

This is a very basic recipe using only three ingredients so, of course, you want to use lots of seasoning to really make the most of what you’ve got. Stir in with the pasta and sauce a hefty crack of black pepper, a good pinch of salt, a good dose of dried garlic flakes and plenty of dried mixed herbs.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Cook pasta in a pan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions (usually 10 – 15 minutes) and drain once cooked.

2. Pour the passata in with the drained pasta, season really well and stir altogether until the sauce smothers the pasta.

3. Pour the pasta and sauce into an ovenproof dish, top with torn mozzarella (make sure you’ve drained and dried the mozzarella otherwise it’ll be very watery!) until the pasta is pretty much covered with a layer of mozzarella. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Tips & Tricks

  • Drain the mozzarella! Otherwise you’ll end up with pools of water in your pasta. I drain mine by tipping all excess liquid from the packet and then wrapping the ball in kitchen towel and leaving it to dry out for at least 15 minutes.
  • If you want to make this go even further, stir a small glass of water into the passata before pouring it into the bake. The sauce will be thinner, but it will stretch to serve more people.
  • You can use a different base sauce if you wanted to make a variation on this recipe. Chopped tomatoes work well, with a pinch of sugar to reduce the acidity, while heavily seasoned crème fraîche would probably make something of a “creamy” sauce.




RECIPE: Super Speedy Cheesy Pasta | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 2
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me less than £1.50 per person.
What are the benefits? This cheesy pasta dish is high in calcium, low in sugar and is vegetarian-friendly.

When I’m thinking about what to cook when I get home from work, especially on days like this when the nights are drawing in and it’s a bit miserable outside, there are three very specific things I take into consideration.

1) Time. I need something quick and simple that gives me time to chill out with a cuppa for 20 minutes when I get in from work and can still be ready for when we sit down to eat as my boyfriend gets home.
2) Money. It has to fit in with our tight weekly budget or, even better, rustled up with everyday ingredients from my kitchen cupboards.
3) Comfort. I like settling into my evening with food that soothes me, nurtures me and makes me feel better about my day.

That’s why I enjoy this recipe so much! It’s really quick, the ingredients are pretty bare-bones, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Gooey cheese sauce poured over a bowl of spaghetti, what more do you want? 🧀

Obviously cheese isn’t exactly a health food, but this dish does provide plenty of calcium, and fibre from the wholewheat pasta too. Using low fat cheese and milk alternatives helps make this a little better for you. But even if you don’t, this recipe is still comforting and cheap – just over a pound per person if you use low fat cheese, but even cheaper if you just use the normal stuff.


140g Wholewheat Spaghetti
1 tbsp (heaped) Plain Flour
250g Grated Cheese (low fat if possible)
1 Cup of Milk
1 tsp Butter
1 tsp English Mustard

A good crack of black pepper and a pinch of salt certainly doesn’t go a miss in the cheese sauce, along with a touch of dried garlic and some dried parsley.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Fill a saucepan with water, season with salt and add the spaghetti to cook according to packet instructions (usually 10 – 12 minutes).

2. Make the sauce by adding the cheese and flour to a pan, stirring well until the cheese is covered. Place the pan on a low heat and add the milk, butter and mustard. Season and stir continuously for a few minutes until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.

3. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce and serve.

Tips & Tricks

  • You don’t have to use spaghetti for this – it works just fine with any other pasta shape!
  • Pasta and sauce alone is a little plain for my liking, so I threw some veggies in with mine (onion, tomato and sweetcorn) and it’s a great way to bulk up this meal. You could also try mushrooms or peppers, or perhaps some chicken and bacon.
  • If you like a little more spice in your sauce, try adding some paprika and chilli flakes for a great flavour.



RECIPE: Tomato Pesto Pasta | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 2
How much does it cost? This cost me less than 50p per person.
What are the benefits? From this dish you’ll get two of your five a day and plenty of fibre, not to mention it is vegetarian-friendly as long as you double check the pesto!

This recipe is a perfect example of how just a few simple ingredients can be turned into a nutritious, robust, colourful, exciting meal for the whole family (although in my house I’m the only one who eats tomatoes. Never mind – more for me! 😋)

This idea was inspired by a day of spring cleaning (yes, that does happen from time to time!) I spent the morning clearing out our kitchen and came across some leftover bits tiptoeing dangerously close to their expiry dates and thought I’d better rescue them! We had an unopened jar of pesto 🌿 the last squeeze in a tube of tomato purée 🍅 and obviously heaps of pasta because, you know, we love carbs 🍝

What I love about is recipe that it really is what #ThisGirlEats is all about. It’s cheap – around 44p per person (ingredients bought from ASDA) – with really basic, accessible ingredients that give a fresh, flavoursome taste on a budget. And, of course, it’s good for you too – vegetables, wholewheat pasta and a splash of light pesto, that’s really all there is to it!


140g Wholewheat Pasta
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Onion, Chopped
2 Fresh Tomatoes, Chopped
15g (or 1 heaped tbsp) Light Green Pesto
5g (or 1 tsp) Tomato Purée

As always with pasta, season the saucepan of water with salt to give it some flavour. When the onions are cooking, throw in some dried garlic (or fresh, if you’ve got it) and, to the tomato sauce, add a good helping of dried basil and dried oregano, as well as a pinch of salt and pepper.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Cook pasta in a pan of boiling water according to packet instructions, which usually takes somewhere between 10 – 15 minutes.

2. Fry the onions in a frying pan with cooking spray or a drop of oil for around 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.

3. Add the tin of tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and tomato purée to the frying pan, season and simmer for around 10 minutes. If you’ve got any to hand, you could always add a teaspoon of sugar here to make it a little less acidic, but it’s not a necessity.

4. Stir the pesto into the sauce. Drain the pasta, combine with the tomato sauce and serve, with a sprinkle of cheese on top if you fancy.

Tips & Tricks!

  • Any leftovers from the family dinner can be packed up and reheated for lunch tomorrow. Don’t let it go to waste!
  • There’s always flexibility with pasta dishes, and this one is no different! Bulk it out with even more vegetables, it’s a great way of using up any veggies on their last legs.
  • If you want to treat yourself, sprinkle some grated cheese on top to make the dish extra tasty.

RECIPE: Mushroom Pesto Pasta | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 2
How much does it cost? This recipe cost me just over 50p per person (56p to be exact!).
What are the benefits? You’ll find at least one of your five a day within this recipe, not to mention it’s suitable for vegetarians (as long as the pesto is veggie-friendly!) and is a great source of fibre.

My boyfriend hates mushrooms and, guys, it really annoys me. It’s weird! Okay, I actually know a lot of people who don’t like mushrooms – but they’re weird too! Mushrooms are immense – in a burger, wrap, pasta… embrace the funghi, people! 🍄

This recipe is quick, easy and made up of three essentials – pesto (totally delicious), pasta (the best) and mushrooms (I don’t care what anyone says). Chuck them all in together and you’ve got a pretty good thing going.

Don’t stress about pesto’s fat content – “good” fats from olive oil and pine nuts, both found in pesto, can be great for your cholesterol, heart and blood pressure. On top of that, this dish also contains three different vegetables (please don’t start with that whole “but tomatoes are a fruit!” thing, you know what I mean) and, made with wholewheat pasta, it’s going to keep you fuller for longer. An easy, hearty, yummy midweek dinner.

6 Medium Mushrooms, Chopped
6 Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
140g Wholewheat Pasta
2 tbsp Green Pesto
Handful of Low Fat Grated Cheese
1 tsp Tomato Purée

Lucky for us, pesto does a lot of the work on this one so there isn’t a whole load of effort that goes into seasoning here. Just add a few dried garlic flakes in with the onions, sprinkle over some dried thyme when the mushrooms go in and, as always, finish with a pinch of salt and pepper.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add enough pasta for two and cook according to packet instructions, usually takes around 10 – 15 minutes.

2. Coat a frying pan with cooking spray or a tiny drop of oil and then add the onion, cooking for only a couple of minutes on a steady medium heat.

3. Add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato purée and a splash of water and fry on a medium-low heat for no longer than 10 minutes, until the veggies are softened and cooked through.

4. Drain the pasta and combine with the vegetables, stirring through a heaped tablespoon or two pesto. Of course, adjust according to taste!

5. Top with grated cheese (and drizzle with a small amount of oil if you wish).

pesto pasta

RECIPE: Red Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese” | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This cost me less than 50p per person.
What are the benefits? This lentil bolognese is an excellent source of veggie protein, as well as easily supplying you with two of your five a day and makes a brilliant vegetarian-friendly meal.

This all started with me buying lentils for a curry about three months ago and having half a bag leftover sitting in the cupboard. I’ve not cooked with lentils much so I didn’t really know how to use them up, but I don’t like to waste food so I began searching online for inspiration…

There are loads of lentil curries out there, even some lentil chillies, so I was really spoilt for choice when it came to ideas. During my research I discovered lentils are often used to bulk out vegetarian meals because they’re a great source of protein, have tonnes of texture and are super filling.

So, with this in mind, I made a swap, taking the mince meat out of traditional bolognese and sneaking lentils in its’ place for a hearty, healthy pasta – and red lentil spag bol was born!


1 Mug of Red Lentils
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
2 Large Mushrooms, Chopped
Handful of Sweetcorn, Fresh or Frozen (if using)
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbsp of Tomato Puree
1 Stock Cube, Crumbled 
1 Litre of Boiling Water
280g Wholewheat Spaghetti

First thing to add is the dried garlic flakes, which go in with the onion. After that, sprinkle a few chilli flakes, a hefty dose of dried oregano and dried basil, salt and pepper when it all starts to simmer. A couple of minutes before serving the bolognese, throw in some mixed herbs too.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Spray a large, deep pan or dish with cooking spray, or splash in a small drop of oil. Cook the chopped onions and dried garlic flakes on a medium heat for a few minutes, until soft.

2. Add the lentils, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, a crumbled stock cube, one litre of boiling water and seasoning. Stir and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes.

3. If you’re adding sweetcorn, throw it in for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

4. Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to packet instructions – usually 10 – 15 minutes.

5. Serve (with grated cheese and garlic bread, if you want to make it even more awesome! 🧀)


RECIPE: Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake | #ThisGirlEats

Serves: 4
How much does it cost? This cost me less than 75p per person.
What are the benefits? This recipe includes at least two of your five a day, is an excellent source of fibre and is totally vegetarian friendly.

Okay, so if you’re seriously watching what you eat, a big dish of pasta loaded with cheese might not be your first choice. I get that. But with #ThisGirlEats, it’s all about making conscious decisions to choose healthier options without completely boycotting the things I love – like oodles of pasta and cheese!

There are plenty of reasons that you shouldn’t write this dish off right away. It’s made with a fresh, light tomato sauce instead of a heavy cream, and replaces meat with loads of vegetables instead. Top that off by wholewheat pasta and low fat cheese and this recipe is already a more nutritious choice.

It’s a hearty, filling recipe, but cheap to make. It’s versatile, too, made up of mostly store cupboard ingredients and all the vegetables I’ve used can be swapped for something else if you prefer.


140g Wholewheat Pasta
1 Carton of Passata
2 Medium Onions, Diced
1 Bell Pepper, Diced
5 Mushrooms, Diced
5 Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
3 Tbsp of Sweetcorn (Fresh or Frozen)
1/2 Cup of Grated Low Fat Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup of Grated Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese

We want this to be as packed with flavour as possible, so make sure everything about this dish is seasoned well. Salt the water for the pasta, for a start. Follow that by adding some dried garlic whilst frying off the vegetables and, once the passata is in the pan, throw in some salt, pepper, garlic flakesdried basil, dried oregano and a pinch of chilli flakes if you fancy a kick. And, finally, before you pop your pasta bake into the oven, sprinkle a generous touch of dried oregano on top.

So, this is how I did it…

1. Stick the pasta in a pot of boiling water and cook according to packet instructions – let’s say 10-15 minutes, ish.

2. Fry the onion and peppers for a minute or two on a pretty high heat before adding the mushroom, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn, along with some garlic and tomato purée, for a total of 5 minutes or so. You want the vegetables to soften, but still have some texture. No-one wants a bowl of mush!

3. Pour the passata into the pan, throw in your seasoning and cook through for another 5 minutes or so on a medium heat.

4. Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Layer the combo in an ovenproof dish and top each layer with cheese – one layer of pasta, top with cheese, one layer of pasta, top with cheese, etc. Finish with hefty sprinkle of oregano.

5. Cook in oven on around 200°C for another 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle over the dried oregano (and a tiny dash of parmesan if you wish, but note that this probably isn’t suitable for vegetarians) on top to finish it off.

veggie pasta bake edit.jpg