Classic Meal… Healthy Alternative!

Classic meals are the one thing we, as students, tend to miss out on. The main reason you visit home – if you’re being honest – is for your mum’s cooking. After a month of pesto pasta, you are very much ready for that delicious Sunday Roast planned for the weekend you’re going home. 

It still tastes absolutely delicious, but after eating it you won’t be ridden with guilt or feel grossly full, and you’ll absolutely want second helpings!

However, what if I were to tell you that you can have these meals at uni too? I am not saying they’ll be better than your mum’s, but I can promise you we can get close, and we can reduce the price and the calories.

Here is my favourite classic recipe but made with less ingredients, useful short cuts, and reduced calories. It still tastes absolutely delicious, but after eating it you won’t be ridden with guilt or feel grossly full, and you’ll absolutely want second helpings!

This is my classic lasagne; my favourite meal! In order to make this less calorific, I have cut out the layers. So, there’s just a rich ragu and a thick, creamy cheese alternative, sandwiched between two layers of pasta. Although there is less work to do and less calories involved, there will still be the distinct flavours that make the classic lasagne.

(To serve 4. If you eat one portion, freeze the rest, and you’ll have three meals stored in your freezer. Ideal.)


  • 1 pack of beef mince or Quorn mince
  • 6 lasagne sheets
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of dried basil
  • 1/2 pack of light cheddar, grated
  • 1 tub of half fat creme fraiche
  • Salt and pepper to season


  1. Fry the onions and garlic in a frying pan on low heat. Be careful, garlic burns ridiculously easily and can ruin the dish – you have been warned! Once they’re soft and translucent (I’d give it around 6 mins), add in the beef, and increase the pan to medium/high heat. The beef needs to brown off, or the ragu will be a murky grey colour. So, once the beef is in the pan, press to the bottom and leave it on a high heat for a few minutes without mixing. Make sure the bottom is a rich brown colour, and then flip over.
  2. Once all meat is cooked, pour in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, honey, nutmeg and basil. Then leave to simmer on a low heat for around 30 mins.
  3. Whilst this is simmering, organise your layers. Pre-heat the oven onto around 180 degrees. Get out your oven-proof dish and layer the first three sheets of pasta at the bottom. Once the ragu mix is ready, pour half over this base layer.
  4. Layer the rest of the pasta over the beef ragu, sprinkle a handful of cheese, then pour the rest of ragu over. You should now have the following layers: pasta, ragu, pasta, cheese, ragu, all layered in the oven-proof dish.
  5. To finish, smooth the creme fraiche all over the top. Sprinkle all the cheese over the creme fraiche, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for around 45 mins and you’re all set!


I hope you love this healthier, quicker and cheaper alternative to the classic lasagne; it really is such a life saver and you’ll find yourself making it all the time. The ragu can also be made into a chilli… just add in kidney beans and swap the spices out for some garam masala, curry powder, cumin and turmeric. It’s best served with rice.

Bea O’Kelly

Featured image courtesy of via Flickr. Image license found here

Article image courtesy of Bea O’Kelly. 

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