4 meals using shop-bought pastes, pastry or tins – for when you’re feeling bloody lazy

Some things I would never contemplate making from scratch;

  • Puff and filo pastry are both a big no-no 
  • Asian pastes and spice mixes can also a little daunting, especially if you don’t know how they’re meant to taste to begin with.
  • I’ve never bothered soaking dried beans (I’d rather open a can)
  • Although I want to use every bit of a meat carcass, I don’t always bother to use it to make stock (shame on me) and then have to rely on shop bought.

Sometimes, I’ll just feel bloody lazy and want to cook food that require little prep or minimal stages and this is when I cut corners – Below are 4 meals that use pre-made ingredients, pastes or jars so you can be bloody lazy too.




All prices from Sainsbury’s, March 2017, unless otherwise stated

Maximum cost: £50



  • 2 leeks (£1.30)
  • rosemary sprigs (70p)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions (55p for a bunch)  3 to be used in the Nasi Goreng, 2 in the prawn curry and the remainder and in the side salad accompanying the puff pastry tartlet)
  • 2 carrots (22p)
  • shredded cabbage (65p for a savoy cabbage, only a little will be used here)
  • 1 red pepper (50p)
  • 1 courgette (20p)
  • 1 garlic bulb (50p for a bulb) 
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (40p for a larger piece)
  • 1 or 2 sticks of lemongrass (70p for a pack of 2)
  • a small bunch of coriander (70p for a bunch)
  • 1 lime (35p)
  • 1 lemon (35p)
  • 2 handfuls of mixed soft herbs (parsley, basil, or mint, 70p per packet – use at least 2 types so £1.40 here)
  • a large bag of spinach (£1.40) – half the bag to be used in the salmon dish, half in the side salad accompanying the puff pastry tart
  • 1 avocado (80p) to be used in the side salad accompanying the puff pastry tart



  • 1 large pack of Parma ham / prosciutto (£3) – 4 slices to be used for the salmon, 4 slices on the puff pastry tartlet
  • 2 x chicken legs (£3.50 for 2 Oyster chicken legs, skin on, bone in from my local butchers)
  • 4 x 225g salmon fillets, skinned and de-boned (£7.25 @ Sainsburys)



  • Gorgonzola (200g for £2)
  • 1 packet of puff pastry (£1.30 for 375g)
  • 200ml natural yoghurt (to serve) (55p)



  • tomato chutney (£2) 
  • balsamic glaze (optional)  – Available at Waitrose for £1.99, a thicker, sweeter version of a vinegar
  • 600g uncooked jasmine (£4.50 for a 2kg bag from my local Chinese supermarket in Camden)
  • Yeo’s Nasi Goreng paste (£1.30 for the jar)
  • 1 or 2 vegetable stock pots (optional, £1.50 for 4)
  • 1 star anise (£1 for a jar)
  • 2 tbsp of red curry paste (£3 from my local Chinese supermarket in Camden)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (£1)
  • 255g lentils / I prefer to use 1 can of (pre-cooked) bijoux verts lentils (£1)



  • 240g tiger prawns (£5 for a bag of 225g frozen king prawns)


What you’ll be left with at the end:

  •  Tomato chutney, curry paste and Nasi Goreng paste can keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks (I’m comfortable leaving them in there for over a month)
  • Rice
  • Gorgonzola
  • Soft herbs
  • Cabbage – I stir fried this with Worcestershire sauce and served with a pie