Approx 624 words
Whether you’re heading to uni for the first time or returning for another year, it’s easy to create budget-friendly, delicious dishes with minimal fuss. Here, senior content manager Ellie Donnell shares plenty of cheap recipe ideas, plus top tips for new cooks and novices alike
The start of term is an exciting and busy time, with so much to plan, new people to meet and new experiences to look forward to. No wonder meal-planning and cooking take a back seat for most undergraduates! This can too often mean that takeaways, ready meals and bad habits take over.
But, eating well and getting the fuel you need to stay healthy in body and mind is easier than you think. Plus, cooking fresh meals is fun and can easily be done on a budget.
Smart student shopping
Begin by stocking up on staples that will last and can be used as the basis for all sorts of dishes. Items such as tins and other storecupboard staples (think rice, pasta, noodles and pulses) are all great. Make sure you’re still eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg, but buy these as and when you need them as they go off quickly. Many dishes use onions, which are one of the exceptions to this rule and last well compared to other fresh produce.
Finally, try to avoid pre-prepared products such as grated cheese or sliced onions, which can be more expensive. And stock up on frozen vegetables to get your greens while saving time and money!
Essential cooking tips for students
- Use garlic – fresh or dried – and keep a stock of spices to add instant flavour and punch to dishes
- Batch-cook meals, which you can freeze too, so you always have a quick meal on standby (and can avoid having to rely on takeaways)
- Bulk up casseroles with beans, lentils and extra veg for a nutritional boost that won’t break the bank
- Budget-strapped meat eaters and vegetarians should also stock up on eggs, which provide a cheap, nutritious source of protein and are so versatile. You can fry, scramble, poach or boil them, and use them for omelettes and frittatas
Remember to look out for Co-op’s Honest Value range instore to keep costs down without compromising on quality. And keep scrolling to discover some simple recipe ideas to get you started at university.
Student recipe ideas
Pasta is a storecupboard staple and so versatile. Wow your friends by whipping up this unusual East-meets-West spin on an established favourite in just a few minutes. You can ramp up the veg factor by stirring in a pack of spinach.
This satisfying crumble, with both salmon and mackerel, looks indulgent but is surprisingly thrifty as it uses tinned rather than fresh fish. Once you’ve done the prep, simply stick it in the oven.
A cheaper vegan spin on the traditional spag bol, this version uses chickpeas, which are first tossed in olive oil, cumin and coriander, then roasted.
An easy, spicy side dish, or simple main for veggies and vegans, this traybake requires minimal preparation and can be thrown in the oven. A great takeaway alternative.
Swap the weekend fry-up for this inspiring scrambled egg dish that takes humble ingredients to new heights. It uses three spices and mango chutney for plenty of flavour – perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
Senior content manager