In meal plan 7 we have a cottage pie, a lasagna and spaghetti bolognese. All three recipes use the same ragu as a base.
Beef Ragu used 3 ways
500g mince, £1.99 Asda
60g bacon pieces, chopped small, 500g/75p Asda, 9p
300g onions, chopped, Asda 2kg/£1.08, 16p
450g carrots, Asda 2kg/£1.18, 27p
tin of tomatoes, 31p
120g red lentils, 20p/100g, 24p
Total of £3.06
One third of this mixture used in each 2 portion recipe
Saute the onion until transparent. Add the mince, bacon and carrot. Saute gently, covered, until the vegetables are soft. Add the red lentils, tomatoes and about half a tin of water. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. If there is too much moisture in the pan, boil quicker until the level is right.
Season with salt and pepper. If you have any available, a combination of any of the following will add flavour to the ragu. A glass of wine (add instead of the water), worcestershire sauce, a dollop of tomato ketchup, a squirt of tomato puree, some fresh thyme, bay or rosemary, a tablsp redcurrant jelly and/or any chutney. Add whatever seasoning you are using at the simmer gently stage.
I used a tsp of salt, half a tsp pepper, 2 bay leaves, a third of a tin of baked beans from the back of the fridge and the washed out remnants of a bottle of tomato suace.
Your ragu is now ready, set aside for use in the recipes. Keep cool until use.
There are some spare vegetables in meal plan 7, if you want to, you could add some of them here to get another portion or two from this mix, although, for me, it is stretched enough already. You could use the three portions of mix for a different combination of dishes if you want to. Say, cottage pie twice and spag bol once, something like that. On meal plan 7, there is 140g spaghetti and half the pack of mash left, and plenty of flour and enough milk left to make lasagna twice. so you could have any of the three options twice if you want to, then one of the others.
If you are not following meal plan 7, this mixture is the classic one to stretch. Add some cooked beans, a tin of baked beans, complete with sauce, is fine. Or stretch it with more vegetables. If you use it to make cottage pie, you could add swede or carrot to the mash for a change, and serve with a green veg, peas or beans for instance.
You could pop the mix into a double pastry pie, stir through pasta and top with a little grated cheese, top a large baked potato with it, again with or without the cheese. The uses of a beef mince mix are endless.