Easy Recipes on a Budget: Basic Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

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If you’re strapped for cash and you want to maintain a healthy diet, all is not lost! Despite what you may think, it is possible to eat relatively healthily without breaking the bank. Try out our healthy bolognese recipe which will keep your wallet fat and your wait trim! We have aimed to keep the recipe content as flexible as possible for you to adapt to dietary requirements and budget.


These are the basic ingredients for a tomato sauce:

  • A tablespoonful of oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Pepper
  • 1 Tin of tomatoes

Option extras (depending on dietary requirements and budget):

  • Vegan: You might like to bulk out the sauce with more vegetables. Carrots, aubergine and tomatoes all make great, healthy additions. You could also try adding vegan mince or tofu for extra protein.
  • Vegetarian: Any of the above or meat-free chicken/mince.
  • Meat-eater: Try adding beef/lamb mince or chunks of chicken breast

Sauce tasting a bit boring? Here’s how to add flavour (try just one or all of the list!):

  • A clove of garlic
  • A teaspoon of paprika
  • If you like your tomato sauce hot, try adding a crushed chilli or a dash of Tabasco sauce
  • A tablespoonful of tomato puree
  • Some fresh basil, or a pinch of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper seasoning
  • Cheese: grated mature cheddar, parmesan or sliced mozzarella all taste great with pasta!


  1. Heat the oil in a pan at a medium heat.
  2. If using garlic, crush the garlic (or chop very finely, if you don’t have a crusher) and add to the pan.
  3. Chop the onion and pepper (and any other vegetables you have chosen) into small cubes.
  4. Add to the pan and cook until softened and slightly brown. Stir to avoid sticking.
  5. If using meat or meat-substitute, add it to the pan and cook through. You can tell when it is done because the meat-substitute will go golden in colour and the meat will no longer be red. If you’re not sure, use a knife to check it isn’t red inside.
  6. Add the tin of tomatoes.
  7. Add any further spices or seasoning.
  8. Voila! Your sauce is done. Add to pasta and sprinkle on the cheese and there you have it.


This is a really basic staple recipe which you can adapt to make a number of different dishes.

  • Chilli: Add chilli powder, tinned kidney beans and meat (optional). Serve with rice, or wraps and guacamole.
  • Lasagne: This is the beginning of a lasagne. Alternately layer tomato sauce and lasagne sheets and add cheese sauce to the top and bake.
  • Shepherd’s Pie: Add a dash of Worcester sauce into the tomato sauce and put into a heat-proof dish. Boil and mash potatoes, add some milk and butter for creaminess and layer across the top of the dish. Sprinkle over grated cheese and bake.
  • Jacket potato: Cook a large potato in the microwave on high power for 15-20 minutes, checking every few minutes to prick the potato with a fork. When cooked through, add the sauce to the middle with grated cheese.
  • Couscous: Add to cooked couscous and serve with salad for a healthy lunch on the go.

Let us know what you think of the recipe. Send in your photos and star ratings to us on Twitter @yoursusu or via our Instagram page @sususnaps.

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