Category Archives: Lunch

Slow Cooker Carrot and Corriander Soup

With the winter closing in, having easy to make, hearty soups on hand  will make for a delicious hot lunch. These soups can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days, or can be frozen for use at a later time. Or they can be put together in a morning to be ready for lunch time, as they only take a few hours to cook.

Slow Cooker Carrot and Coriander Soup

  • Approximately 300g of carrots (peeled weight) chopped into small, even pieces.
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces.
  • 2 OXO cubes-any flavour of your liking.
  • 30g of split red lentils.
  • 500ml of boiling water.
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp dried coriander.

Preheat your slow cooker on high for ten minutes. Throw in the carrots, onions and lentils, sprinkle the coriander into the pot. Pour the stock over the vegetables, stir and cover with the lid.


Leave to cook on high for 3 hours. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup till smooth. Add hot water as needed to reach the consistency for the soup that you like. Serve immediately with bread and butter-crusty bread being the nicest for dipping!

This soup costs a tiny 22p per serving, and has 70 calories. Despite the low calorie count, it is very filling and satisfying.

I used beef OXO for my soup, and hence the colour is darker and more brown than many carrot and coriander soups.

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Challenge Day 4, Lunch and Ginger Pear Cake

Today Dinner Mama had guests at lunch time, and that means a break from the norm, and trying to be a little more creative while not hurting the budget too much. Thankfully we still have lots of fresh fruit and other snacks to offer, and enough of the basic ingredients to whip up a cake.

Lunch today-beans on toast. Warm on this cold day, cheap, and tasty. But the best thing is a fresh pear and chocolate chip cake, still warm from the oven.

This cake is far more dense than most cakes that I make, as a result of having two whole pears in it, and much more moist too. In fact it’s so dense that you might not trust that it’s cooked when it’s done-test it by inserting a thin, sharp knife or a tooth pick. If the pick or knife come out clean, it’s cooked. If raw cake mixture shows on the knife, put it back in for another five minutes.

I’ve used chopped chocolate buttons for this-half and half white and milk chocolate, but you can use whatever you have to hand, be that a bar of chocolate, dark chocolate, it will all taste nice. I chose not to grease my cake pan, but to use a layer of paper instead. This may lead to wrinkles in the edge of the cake but reduces the calories slightly.

You may also want to change how you handle the pears. I grated them, because I’m not a fan of chunks of fruit in cake, but if you prefer, you can chop them into small chunks instead. Either way the pears will sink to the bottom of the cake.

Pear and Chocolate Cake

  • 2 medium eggs.
  • 150g of demerara sugar.
  • 150g I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light, melted.
  • 100ml of skimmed milk.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • Half teaspoon powdered ginger.
  • Half teaspoon powdered cinnamon.
  • 2 pears, peeled and grated, around 400g peeled weight.
  • 50g of chopped chocolate.
  • A little extra cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on the top.

Melt the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light in a bowl, in the microwave on half power for 20 seconds at a time till melted. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 if you have a fan assisted oven). Line a spring form pan with baking or grease proof paper.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk. An electric whisk will do this more quickly, but a hand whisk will do it just fine. Once the egg is well beaten, add the sugar and mix, before slowly pouring the melted I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter into the mix-keep mixing as you pour it in.

Add the milk and whisk till well mixed, then sprinkle both the ginger and cinnamon onto the mix. The mix at this point will look very wet-that’s OK and to be expected.

Slowly add the flour, a little at a time and mix well. Once all of the flour is mixed in, and the mixture is lump free. Fold in the pears and the chopped chocolate and mix lightly.

Pour the mixture into your lined pan and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar, and place in the middle of the oven. Leave to cook for 45 minutes before checking. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire wrack for a few minutes before trying to remove the paper.

This moist, rich cake has 210 calories per serving (12 servings per cake). As made, it cost approximately £1.40 to make.

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Challenge Day 2, Lunch

Today, we’re being a little dull. My youngest and I are having a Philadelphia sandwich again (14g of Philadelphia Light, 2 slices of Hovis Wholemeal, 196 calories) and a Brooklea strawberry rice pudding pot (198 calories) for a lunch time total of 394 calories.

Dinner dad is having cereal for his lunch, in order to keep his calories low for a treat later today.

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Challenge Day 1, Lunch

Lunch today is Hovis Wholemeal bread ( 2 slices) with 14g of Philadelphia Light. We already had the Philadelphia in the fridge, but it’s cost has been added to the budget for the week. The children had Philadelphia too, but with I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter to add the fats that younger children need.

The calories for the adults was just 196 tiny calories so we also had a packet of Aldi’s Cheese Grids for a treat (89 calories), and some popcorn (100 calories for a 25g serving). 2 meals down!

This afternoon will see us having a medium banana for a snack (105 calories), and this morning I had a slice of toast with I Can’t Believe it’s not butter (116 calories). There is more fresh fruit on hand too for unscheduled snacking.

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1 week's food, total cost £37.67

Dinner Mama Budget Challenge


Dinner mama has a budget that, as a family, we try to follow for our food shopping. However there are unfortunately times when our budget has to be cut, and we have to find ways to feed the family for a lot less.

This week is one of those times. With our toddler’s 2nd birthday coming up, plus another family birthday this week, not to mention the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, we have had found ourselves needing to limit the budget a little more than normal.

So the challenge this week will be to feed our family of four for under £50, for three meals a day, plus snacks. This will not be the healthiest week of our lives for our diet, however will continue to control the calories and keep them beneath our weight loss levels. There will continue to be fresh fruit and plenty of frozen vegetables, and a good variety to our meals.

1 week's food, total cost £37.67

1 week’s food, total cost £37.67

In addition to the food purchased today there are a few other items that will be used or brought fresh, such as milk and bread. These bring the total for the week to £45.90 for all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. It doesn’t include other essentials, such as toilet roll and laundry products, which we already have in.

This week will see meals that your mum may have made, including roast chicken, sausage and mash, gammon, and pasta.


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Breakfast for Lunch

When we are busy, or are trying to save calories for a treat later in the day, we have been known to have breakfast cereal for lunch. Not only is it an instant lunch with almost no work required, an average serving with skimmed milk will come in at well under 200 calories.

It may not be the most exciting lunch in world, but when you’re counting calories it’s a very nutritious and easy way to handle lunch.

Today’s lunch is Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Yum!

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