Lots of you out there will be starting university in a few months, most of which wont have lived alone before or even have cooked meals for themselves. If you fit the above criteria, then this week’s top 10 is for you, my friend. You might also want to pay attention if you are a student who is currently running low on funds and in need of tasty, yet cheap meal ideas.
This one is not so much a recipe as it is a way of letting you into a secret for a cheap way to breakfast. You will quickly find out that milk goes off really quickly- my solution for this is to buy (en mass) cartons of UHT milk from Lidl. It lasts for months and takes just a good on your cornflakes. Now for the actual cereal, do not be swayed by Mr Kellogg, the brands are three times the prices and not always better. Sainsbury’s own honey-nut cornflakes are far superior in my opinion. Stick to own-brand cereal and those from cheap supermarkets like Lidl or Aldi.
9. The humble stir-fry
An essential staple in student’s diet- all you need are some egg noodles, a couple of carrots, a pack of bean sprouts and a jar/sachet of sweet and sour sauce. If you eat in groups, you will find that it brings the cost down considerably and also reduces the amount of fresh food you throw away.
Boil some water in a saucepan and throw the noodles in for five minutes (one pack per person, buy the Tesco’s basic 8p per pack ones if possible) and then peel and chop the carrots. Next up, heat up some oil in your pan/wok and then throw the carrots and bean sprouts in to soften. Once your noodles are cooked, drain and add them to the carrots and sprouts, and then pour the sauce on top and continue cooking until hot.
If you would like to add some meat, I suggest using turkey as it is a cheaper alternative to chicken. Slice the meat into chunks and brown off in the pan for five minutes, once the meat is browned (i.e you can see no uncooked bits on the outside) add the vegetables, noodles, sauce and so on.
8. Garlic bread
If you are having pizza, you are more than likely going to want some garlic bread. Instead of buying the £2 odd baguettes, try this little tip. All you need is two slices of white bread, a teaspoon of spread/butter, a clove of garlic, mixed herbs and some grated cheese/mozzarella (if you want cheese of course).
Preheat your oven at 180 degrees. Put the knob of butter/spread into a microwavable bowl or cup and add the herbs. Crush the clove of garlic and put it into the bowl (for a cheaper, long-lasting alternative to fresh garlic you can buy dried garlic flakes in a shaker from Lidl (by the salt, pepper and herb section)). Ping that mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds until it is slightly melted and then stir- make sure it is not too watery.
Next up you need to place the two slices of bread on a baking tray, spread the garlic butter on top of the slices and then cover them with foil (if you have it, it is not so urgent). Place them on the bottom shelf for around 10 minutes. If you want cheese on them, do the same, but after five minutes uncover the bread and put the cheese on top- cooking it for a further five minutes uncovered.
7. Cheap breakfast sandwich
As much as we all love a sandwich packed with egg, bacon, sausage and cheese on a hangover, it is not always possible, as all that meat does not come cheap! Instead, try a bacon and cream cheese bagel. You might even want to throw an egg in there. It is quick, cheap and you can eat it on your way into your morning lecture.
Buy a packet of bagels from the supermarket’s bakery (they are cheaper and nicer than the New York Bagel ones). You will also need to pick up some bacon (the cheapest you can find) and grab a packet of the supermarket’s own-brand cream cheese (Sainsbury’s is tastier and better for you than Philly).
When it comes to cooking it, it takes about four minutes. Fry the bacon in some oil on the hob, cut the bagel in half and pop it in the toaster. Once toasted, spread the cream cheese on both sides and throw the bacon on once cooked. Voila! If you want an egg, whack it in the pan at the same time as the bacon.
6. Hot pot
In those long winter months, you will find yourself missing your folks’ casseroles and all those lovely warm, winter foods. Do not fear, try yourself a cheap alternative to a lamb casserole- the bean hot pot.
All you need is a can of basics baked beans, half an onion, a pepper, a carton of basics chopped tomato, leftover meat (if you have it) and maybe some mushrooms. Dice the onion, the pepper and the mushroom and cook on a low heat on the hob, once it is cooked, but still slightly crunchy, add the leftover meat- it is also a good idea to boil down the chicken carcass after a roast as the shredded meat from that can be used for a dish such as this. Add the tin of baked beans and let everything simmer for about five minutes. Done.
5. Leftover soup
The leftover soup is really simple and a great way to use up all the fresh stuff in the fridge when it is starting to go ‘funky’. You need three pints of water, an onion, one stock/oxo cube, a garlic clove, any spices you have, three spoons of corn powder and whatever else you have in the fridge.
Start by peeling and chopping the onion and garlic and put them in a pan (on a high heat) with some oil, the spices and the stock/oxo cube. Then just start throwing everything else in, in the order you think best. When you are done, turn the heat down to low and add the water and corn powder, then leave to simmer for an hour.
4. Carbonara with a twist
You will need two or three rashers of bacon, a cup of pasta (any kind, I prefer linguine), one egg, 50ml of milk, some grated cheese, paprika (the twist) one clove of garlic and some black pepper
This recipe came after a mid-week night out when my friend and I came back to my halls of residence in dire need of some sustenance. Linguine carbonara was a common meal for the two of us, but after that faithful night, we never looked back…
First up you add the pasta to a saucepan of boiling water on the hob for around 15 minutes. Next up, you dice the bacon rashers into cubes and fry then in some olive oil until they are cooked. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it up, adding some pepper and garlic. At this point I like to add a little mixed herbs to the pasta boiling in the pot. The ‘twist’ came, when on that night my friend decided to add some oregano, but instead knocked half a jar of paprika into the pot. The water turned alarmingly orange, but we were too hungry to throw it away, so continued on and found out it was phenomenal tasting. I do not recommend you pour half a jar in- three teaspoons of paprika to the pasta should do the trick.
When the pasta is cooked, strain the water in a colander and put the pasta back in the pan. Add the whisked ingredients, the bacon and a handful of grated cheese and stir in. “And now…you may eat.”
3. Pasta bake
You cannot go wrong with a pasta bake, and you can probably feed four or five people for £3. Firstly you need pasta (I recommend buying a really huge bag at the beginning of term because you will need it), a couple of cartons of chopped tomatoes, cheese, a slice of bread and an assortment of vegetables.
The first thing you need to do if pour some pasta in to a saucepan and cook it until it is soft, but not all floppy (about 15 minutes generally). Whilst the pasta is cooking remove your vegetables from the fridge and wash, peel and cut them. I like to have carrots, onions and peppers in my bakes.
Once the veg is chopped and the pasta is done, mix it all together, along with the cartons of chopped tomatoes in the biggest dish you can find. Now it is all together, grate a little cheese on top (if you have some of course, it is just as nice without) and then use a grater to turn that slice of bread into breadcrumbs. You can roll it between the palms of your hands also, as an alternative method. Stick the whole thing in the oven on 220 degrees until the top is browned off.
2. Egg on wedge
One of my good friends at university shared this recipe with me and it became a firm favourite amongst our group. It is a simple as it sounds and all you need to make it is eggs, potatoes and cherry tomatoes (I would recommend one egg, one potato and maybe three or four cherry tomatoes per person).
First up you need to wash, peel and cut the potatoes into wedges and spread them evenly on a baking tray. Pour some olive oil over them and give the tray a little shake. Stick it in the oven on 200 degrees for about 10. Open up the oven door and throw a few cherry tomatoes (whole) onto the wedges and then close the door for another 10 minutes.
Now, for the pièce de résistance, remove the tray from the oven (make sure the wedges are cooked enough before continuing with the next step) and crack the required amount of eggs on top of the wedges and tomatoes and return to oven until the eggs are cooked just the way you like them.
1. The student roast
You will find that ‘the roast’ is perhaps one of the most anticipated group events at university, particularly when you are in halls and have access to several different ovens. The ingredients to the roast are no different to those that your parents will use at home, except chances are that instead of having a roast every Sunday, you will have a roast when you find a chicken or two in the reduced section at Sainsbury’s. This could happen any day of the week, with very little notice.
Once the word has been spread amongst your friendship group, everyone will convene in the proposed kitchen clutching potatoes and vegetables. For a good roast, you will be hoping that people have carrots, peas, broccoli, potatoes, parsnips and, with any luck, Yorkshire puddings. Even if you have to buy the ingredients especially, you will find that split amongst everyone, it will work out very cheaply.
The reduced chicken will go on straight away in accordance to what the packaging says (I find an hour and a half on 230 degrees to be about right). You will need to get on with the roast potatoes as soon as the chicken goes in the oven. Peel and chopped them and then place them into a pot of boiling water and partially boil them, before putting them onto a baking tray for approximately 35 minutes (do not forget to season them with olive oil and maybe some mixed herbs). If you have parsnips, I would recommend doing exactly the same with them and putting them on with the roast potatoes.
Now you will need to wash, peel and chop your vegetables accordingly and cooked them either in a microwavable dish or in a saucepan on the hob when you take the chicken out of the oven to stand for 10 minutes (make sure the juices run clear by lifting the chicken up and tilting it to allow the juices to run out). If you have gravy granules (cheaper and longer-lasting than the jarred stuff), now will be the time to put the kettle on and mix it up.
All that is left to do is dish up (make sure you keep the chicken distribution fair as there wont be that much of it), pour the basics wine and find a seat on the floor. Yum