Savvy mum shares recipe for $20-or-less cheesy pasta bake

Making your own meals at home is almost always going to be less expensive than eating at restaurants, regardless of how enticing the takeout might be.

But since grocery prices are steadily on the rise, more and more Aussie families are looking for tasty meal ideas that are not only filling but also won't blow their budget.

Here, a savvy mum shared some of the delicious meal ideas she regularly cooks for her family using groceries that cost less than $20.

Jen Hanlon has amassed quite a huge following on social media sites like TikTok and Instagram ever since she started sharing tasty family meal ideas that don't break the bank.

In one of her most recent videos, she demonstrated how to prepare a corn relish dip pasta bake using only seven ingredients that could be purchased at Coles for a total cost of $17.20.


A budget-savvy mum has revealed her $20-or-less recipe for a cheesy pasta bake. Credit: TikTok/Jen Hanlon.

Members, if you'd like to give this recipe a try, here are the ingredients you will need and how much they cost (prices may vary depending on the Coles location):
  • 60g bag of baby spinach - $2
  • Brown onion - 42c
  • 250g block of Coles cheddar cheese - $4.40
  • 2 x Coles corn relish dip - $2.20 each
  • 250g Thomson's Deli bacon - $4
  • 500g bag of rigatoni pasta - $1
  • 420g tin of corn kernels - $1
TOTAL - $17.22

Here are the steps to follow:

To begin, boil water in a deep pan and cook the pasta until al dente (usually, it's one to two minutes less than what's indicated on the packet). After this, drain the water but make sure to set aside ¾ cup to be used later.

Next, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In the meantime, chop the onion and bacon into small pieces and sauté them in a frying pan with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil for about two to three minutes.

Once they are cooked, add both of the corn relish dips and mix them well. Follow by adding the corn and baby spinach.

If you find the sauce to be ‘too thick’ at this point, add some pasta water from earlier to thin it out. (Make sure to add the water slowly while thoroughly mixing the sauce.)

Once the sauce is the right consistency, add the cooked pasta and the corn kernels. Then mix everything together.

Keep on mixing slowly to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Once you’re finished, add the whole dish to an oven-safe baking dish and top with grated cheese.

Cook in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned a golden brown colour.

Jen's quick, easy, and affordable family recipe impressed thousands of her followers on social media, with some of them even suggesting some 'changes' to make the dish healthier.

A fellow mum wrote in the comments, saying, 'You can add a $2 can of tuna to make a tuna pasta bake – just in case you need more protein!'

'Tonight, I made this dish with a few minor adjustments. Instead of spinach, I used mushrooms, cream cheese, corn relish from a jar, and chicken,' added a second one.

'You can use sour cream and corn relish to make the dip if they have none. Sooooo yum,' suggested a third.

What do you think, members? Does this meal look good to you? It certainly makes us hungry!

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