Students are famous for their reliance on cheap takeaways, ready meals and of course pot noodles. We live a hectic, fast-paced and sometimes impulsive lifestyles, that can at times allow us to neglect the food we should be eating. If you are starting your first year at university, make sure you’ve learnt to cook the essential meals to keep fit and healthy, after all the studying and nights out partying. But if your culinary skills are yet to be perfected, then here are our favourite student recipes that are suitable to any cooking ability and are sure to help you survive at least your first semester we hope!
1. Pasta Bake
Everyone’s classic go-to-dish for a satisfying and simple meal is pasta bake ,and that is exactly why it kicks off our top 10 easy meals for uni students. Pasta bakes are fast, tasty and incredibly inexpensive to make, especially with this simple guide and creative ideas of how to spice up the classic recipe. There are endless recipes for pasta bakes, but my absolute favourite since moving to university has got to be a tuna and broccoli pasta bake. Begin by cooking the pasta in a pan of boiling water, in separate pan cook the tuna, tomatoes and broccoli. Stir in the grated cheese to the mixture then add the pasta and stir until it has all combined. Place the ingredients into a dish and sprinkle cheese on top, cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes until it has turned golden brown.
2. The humble Jacket Potato
Who doesn’t love a good jacket potato? Simple, cheap and extremely tasty, you can’t go wrong with this ideal student meal. As long as you can get it crispy on top and fluffy inside with a delicious topping, then a jacket potato is your new best friend. Before starting to cook remember to fork your potato in order to avoid an mashy explosion in the microwave or oven, I don’t think your housemates would be too impressed if not. All it needs now is a little salt and olive oil. The quickest way to bake your potato is to cook it in the microwave for approximately 5 minutes to soften it up, then move it to the oven for around 35 minutes to finish cooking it. Next is your choice of filling, which needless to say is a very very long list of options. If you are more of a traditionalist then go for the tuna mayo, but if you fancy experimenting then you could try ricotta cheese, caramelised onions or bacon. What’s your favourite filling?
3. Spaghetti Bolognese
The famous Italian dish Spaghetti Bolognese always makes for a tasty treat that reminds me of home. Start by frying the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, add the mince meat to the pan, and cook until the pinkish meat has turned brown. Next, pour the tin tomatoes and tomato puree into the mix and stir. Never forget to season your dishes! If you fancy you can add vegetables to this dish in order to make it a little healthier, carrots or mushrooms taste great with this one. All that is left to do now is to cook the pasta in a separate pan, once it has softened drain it and pour onto a plate with the bolognese sauce on top. Bon Appetite!
4. Pastas, Pastas, Pastas!
If you are still not sure on how to cook pasta then listen closely ,because I promise you this will be the meal you make the most as a uni student. Students love this dish because it’s practically skill-less, and can be different for every day of the week (if you really feel like being that lazy and resorting to pasta for a week straight). There are so many sauces and ingredients that can be added to pasta in order to make a flavourful and healthy option. And although I’ve already mentioned the popular pasta bake, that is just the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to this versatile ingredient. You can get as inventive as you want! In order to cook your pasta pour a suited amount into a pan of boiling water, leave it on the heat of the stove for 8-10 minutes. However, the timing can vary depending on how hot the water is and the temperature of the stove. Once the pasta has softened, drain it and mix in the sauce of your choice. Tomato pastas are my favourite, simply add some tomato puree and tin tomatoes to the pasta. Or herbs, a type of meat, cheese, tuna fish, or a cheesy sauce goes perfectly. Add some garlic bread for a crunchy side.
Curries for everyday of the week! This dish is probably the trickiest of all the ones in the top 10, it requires a little more cooking skill and a tad more patience. The easiest curry recipe to follow includes a limited list of ingredients, chicken, curry paste, coconut milk, onions and garlic. Cook the chicken off in a pan until it has cooked the whole way through. Add the chopped up onions and garlic, cooking on a low heat to avoid burning the onions. Pour the coconut milk and add a couple of spoons of the curry paste to the mixture. Continue to slowly cook on a low heat in order to allow the sauce to reduce, taste the sauce lots until you think it’s perfect.
6. Stir fry
Don’t be scared when you hear that stir fry is in the top 10, it’s super quick and easy to make and has the potential to be very tasty indeed. Simply slice the chicken and fry it in a pan until it has cooked the whole way through. This meat can be substituted for any other ingredient whether that be beef, prawns, tofu or corn, it’s up to you. Now leave this to the side, because you need to prepare your vegetables, start by peeling and cutting up the carrots, sweetcorn, peas or whatever other vegetable you fancy including. These also need to be lightly fried but keep the crunchiness. Add the vegetables to the chicken, then it’s time to make the sauce, which can be made with soy sauce, vegetable stock or chicken stock, or even a combination. Stir fries tend to need tasting throughout the cooking process in order to know whether something needs to be added. All that’s left to do is to add a packet of noodles into the pan and mix everything together.
7. Vegetable soup
Vegetable soup is the ideal option to warm you up in the winter months, it’s also super healthy for you. A homemade soup is a great comfort food especially for uni students dealing with homesickness. It is traditional, hearty, family food that cannot disappoint. There are lots of ways you can tackle this dish but the easiest way I have found follows a simple method which is cheap and cheerful. The only ingredients you’ll need for this one is, vegetable stock, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, peas, half an onion, milk and salt/pepper. Start by peeling the potatoes, washing them, and chopping them into small squares. Boil the potato dices in a pan of boiling water until they are soft enough to mash up. Next, you need to peel the carrots and parsnips as well as dicing the onion. Drain the potatoes and add all the ingredients you have just prepared to a large pan. Add boiling water to the vegetable stock and pour into the pan with the other ingredients. Allow this cook to cook on a low heat, adding salt and pepper in order to season the dish. Add the peas to the pan and begin to mash all the ingredients together. The milk is optional but it helps to make the dish creamier, now all that is left to do is blend all the ingredients together and cut up some crusty bread.
8. Toasties galore
Every uni student’s must have appliance is a toasty maker, it can be a treat for lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. It is deliciously moreish and will never ever let you down. So go ahead and indulge in this satisfying snack, whether you go for the traditional option of plain cheese in a matter of minutes or you decide to dedicate a lot longer to perfecting the ultimate toastie. Running low on ideas of how to get creative with toasties, look no further we have the ideal list for you right here! The breakfast toastie is a combination of egg, bacon and cheese; or a Swiss cheese and salty ham combination is a delight for the taste buds and will keep you craving for more; and finally the tuna melt is a definite winner.
Although omelettes sound very straight forward they can be a tasty and filling meal at the end of the day. They don’t require a heap of expensive ingredients or endless amounts of time. All you need is a couple of eggs, a little milk and an added ingredient of your choice. Eggs are a great source of protein making them a super healthy alternative to the takeaways that we won’t admit to indulging in. A classic choice is a cheese, ham and tomato omelette, the added health kick of the tomatoes and extra taste of the cheese and ham make it a delicious combination. But the fun doesn’t stop there, you can experiment with other fillings to change up this easy dish.
Fajitas are the perfect way to make a big uni family dish for the whole flat. Not only can you show off your cooking skills, but also encourage your new friends to socialise even more. They sound a lot more complicated then they actually are and as a self-professed amateur when it comes to cooking they are pretty tricky to get wrong. This dish can also be adapted whichever way you fancy whether that be a new ingredient to spice up your week or to protect your budget. You are absolutely spoilt for choice with fajitas!
So ditch the frozen meals, takeaways and famous pot noodles, and instead opt for a delicious and nutrient-packed meal. There are no excuses now, so grab your flatmates and purses and head to the shops for those essential ingredients that will keep you surviving the life of a fresher!