#5ForFreshers: 5 Student Meals to (Learn to) Cook


Coming to uni requires a lot of different responsibilities, from doing your own washing and making your bed, to keeping the food cupboards full and cooking your dinner. Food shopping and cooking belong hand in hand. For some, cooking will come easy, you’ve practiced it for years and have tonnes of recipes up your sleeve but for others you only just about know how to boil pasta without burning the flat down. In my book, every student should have a few go-to recipes, so I’m about to share with you my top 5 student meals to choose from.

When shopping you’ll want to make sure you have all those vital ingredients stocked up so you can whisk up delicious meals for a cheaper price, instead of grabbing that £3 ready meal from Asda which is full of fat and salt and lacks flavour. Plus these student meals will fulfil all of your needs; full of flavour, can be cooked in bulk (and frozen) and are as cheap as chips (but hey, there’s no chips in these recipes).

1.       Spaghetti Bolognese / Chilli con Carne

These are two of my ultimate favourites, packed with flavour, easy to cook and work out roughly £1.30 per serving. Whether you choose red meat or go for the leaner option of turkey mince, there’s several ways to add a bit of punch into your meal. Pack into it as many hidden veggies as you like, from carrots to mushrooms. Add plenty of spice (especially to the chilli), tinned tomatoes and stock for flavour. Even throw in a splash of red wine you have left over from Cameo Wednesday (if there is any left).

The trick with this meal is the longer it cooks the more the flavour develops. Perhaps cook it in the morning on your day off and heat it back up in the evening. This is the perfect meal to enjoy as a house, otherwise it’s a great choice to freeze your left overs. It’s the nicest feeling after a long day of lectures, rehearsals or sport training to know you have a portion of bolognese or chilli waiting for you defrosted on the side; or even when you’re getting over a hangover and it stops you from ordering that cheeky and expensive Domino’s. You can spice it up and substitute the spaghetti and rice with a jacket potato or nachos. Treat yo’self with garlic bread, so if you have it twice in one week at least there’s some variety. 

Chilli / Bolognese

2.       Pesto Pasta

This is the perfect go-to for lunch especially when you’re stuck in the library all day. It helps you avoid buying that meal deal! Pesto pasta is incredibly low-cost ranging from 30p to £1 depending on what you have with it. Cook it in bulk and pack it away in the fridge for a weeks prep. I often enjoy the basil pesto as a pasta salad, with a variety of cucumber, tomatoes and peppers and feta. Chorizo also goes well with the red pesto. It’s a no time prep dinner and it’s full of flavour. Even the simplest chefs will be able to master this one.

3. Fajitas

A Mexican classic perfect for a friends meet up or house dinner. Whether you buy El Paso when it’s on offer or buy the wraps and spices separately. I often make my own flavouring by chucking in spices like chilli, paprika and a barbecue or tomato based sauce. A fajita night is most often everyone’s favourite. If you want to push the boat out make it a Mexican evening with sombreros, Mexican music and cocktails (any excuse to drink!). At roughly £1.50-2 a portion, fajitas are easy to make in 15 minutes. If you’re feeling adventurous and a little wealthy, splash out on salsa, sour cream and guacamole, and even nachos with tonnes of cheese.


4. Roast Dinner

Another group classic. Whilst the idea of it sounds daunting at first a roast dinner is actually a simple and cheap dinner to make. Whilst it ranges depending on the extras you cook with it a roast can start out as cheap as £1.50 per portion. A roast chicken is your cheapest bet (£2.82 at ASDA) and perhaps the easiest to master cooking. Go all out; roast potatoes, a mixture of veg, and stuffing. Go for instant gravy like bisto but add the meat juice and vegetable water for flavouring. You can use the gravy again for bangers and mash. It’s all about getting the timings right as the potatoes and meat need a while but once you’ve got that sorted, it’s a sit back and watch kind of job. I mean what else does a student do on a Sunday?

This is a must do at Christmas with all the trimmings such as pigs in blankets, parsnips, sprouts and Yorkshire puddings. Join forces with another flat for more oven space. If everyone takes one or two roles within the meal it’ll be prepped in no time, and then you can surprise your mum with your chef skills on Christmas day.

Roast Dinner

5.       Banana pancakes

Sometimes you can get fed up of those coco pops or your daily Weetabix so a fun alternative and perfect after a work-out is banana pancakes. All you need is one banana and one egg working out at not even 50p. Whisk it up using a fork and pour into a pan, et voila. Make it funky by adding coco powder, or top it with blueberries and honey, or simply lemon and sugar. It’s a healthy alternative on pancake day too so get cracking those eggs and peeling those bananas.

Now you’ve got these 5 easy recipes there should be no excuse for you living on ready meals, takeaways or bowls of cereal. It doesn’t take long to cook up a meal full of vitamins and flavour. On your next food shop make sure you stock up with some ingredients to rustylNo one wants to be that student in the house that can’t cook so get practising, experiment with flavours and find your statement dish that your housemates will be eyeing up.