Friends will know that my Marmite obsession is almost as out of control as my peanut butter obsession. In leaner times, I would substitute Marmite, which was well out of my budget range, for a paste made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, mixed with boiling water, and allowed to cool. Smeared onto toast with butter, it delivered that tongue-warming tingle and salty kick I used to get from my yeast-extract friend. These days, my cupboard has a jar of Marmite in for toast and snacks, and today, it went in here, too. If you’re a hater, not a lover, just leave it out – or of course, you could always cook your pasta in a stock made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, and we’ll call it quits…

Serves 1 from 34p per portion. This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change.

75g pasta, 5p (30p/500g)

250ml water

2 tsp butter (10g), 6p (£1.49/250g)

30g cheesy spread, 20p (80p/125g) or any mature cheese, grated

½ tsp (2g) Marmite or other yeast extract, 3p

Tip your pasta into a mug, and cover with cold water. Cover with clingfilm and pierce several times, or balance a small saucer on top – make sure neither mug nor saucer have any metal on please, the Fire Service are busy enough…

Stand it in a bowl or jug – you’ll see why in a sec. Cook on FULL power for 2 minutes, then remove the mug. It’s usual for water to bubble up over the sides and drench the bottom of your microwave, so to save cleaning it up and topping it up again, which will slow your cooking time down, just tip the water back into the mug.

Give it all a good stir and leave to stand for a minute. Repeat this step twice more, until your pasta is soft and swollen. You may need to add a splash more water here or there, which is fine – not all microwaves, nor pasta, were created equal.

Add your butter, stir in the Marmite, and grate the cheese over. Cook for one more minute on full power, stir well, and serve.

For a work-easy version, or a portable one, simply mix together oil instead of butter, marmite and finely grated hard cheese and pop into a small container – it’s not going to look the greatest, but it will taste absolutely fine when it’s cooked. Portion out your pasta, and take the pasta and the oil-cheese-marmite paste with you wherever you’re off to. Now all you need is to cook the pasta as instructed, stir in the paste, and voila. Nearly-instant lunch that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge.

From ‘Cooking On A Bootstrap’ by Jack Monroe. Photography by Mike English.

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All text copyright Jack Monroe.

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