7 student meals you need to learn to cook

Photo: themonnie/ Flickr.

Photo: themonnie/ Flickr.

Looking after your diet while at university can be a challenge for even the most independent students, so Tessa Snart is here to help us all!

Now freshers’ week has been and gone, you’re probably more focused on saving money after spending a fortune on event tickets than perhaps thinking about what meals to cook over the next three years of your university life. I know from personal experience that it can be quite a shock to the system having to fend for yourself, so here are 7 easy student meals to get you started!


Scrambled egg on toast

What you need:

  • A measuring Jug
  • One/two eggs (depending on the portion size you prefer)
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Butter

Firstly, crack eggs into a jug and whisk until they are all mixed in. Next, add about half a cup full of milk and whisk again. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and then you’re ready to put the jug in the microwave for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the egg as you do it – when the egg isn’t runny anymore, that’s when you know it’s done! While you’re waiting, toast the bread, add butter, and then you’re ready to serve and enjoy. Easy right?!

Jacket potato with your choice of topping

What you need:

  • A jacket potato
  • Toppings of you’re choice (e.g. beans, cheese or tuna)
  • Salad (optional as a side)

To begin with, all you need to do is pierce the potato several times with a fork and place it on a microwavable plate. Cook on full power for 5 minutes, and then turn over and cook for another 5. In the meantime, prepare you’re toppings and salad, remembering to check the potato half way through cooking. When the microwave beeps, double check the potato is soft in the middle and then serve. You can always put your baked potato in the oven for five minutes afterwards if you prefer them crispy.

Pasta Bake

What you need:

  • A baking Dish
  • A bag of pasta twirls
  • Pasta bake sauce of you’re choice
  • Fresh chicken/bacon or tuna
  • Garlic bread (optional)
  • Grated cheese

Open the packet of pasta twirls and pour into a baking dish dry. Take your jar of pasta bake sauce and pour over pasta. At this point you can add some fresh, chopped bite size pieces of meat (we recommend either chicken and bacon, or tuna) and then stir and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Stir every 20 minutes and then, five minutes before serving, add grated cheese and mix it in, adding extra cheese on the top. Bake in the oven for five more minutes until crispy and then serve. Garlic bread makes a great side too. Bon Appetite!

‘Fish’ or ‘Chicken’ Dish

What you need:

  • Fish: Fishcake/ cod fillet/ fish fingers or;
  • Meat: Chicken strips/ popcorn chicken/ chicken breasts
  • Carb: Chips/ new potatoes/ rice
  • Veg: Salad/ veg

This dish allows plenty of freedom for you to choose what’s right for you – and it’s a great way to learn several alternatives just by using this simple structure. To create this dish, you need to be aware of timings as you are dealing with multiple ingredients (a timer or stopwatch is always helpful). Frozen fish or chicken will take longer than chilled but preparation time for this meal should take no longer than half an hour. To save time and money, buy ‘boil in a bag’ rice or alternatively, already prepared new potatoes and opt for the ‘2 for 3’ bags of mixed veg/salad and/or tinned mushy peas.

Fajitas

What you need:

  • Wraps
  • Chicken breast/southern fried chicken strips
  • Salad (fresh or already prepared)
  • Sides – chips/onion rings/garlic/herb new potatoes

Start by cooking the chicken – fresh, chopped chicken breasts take up to half an hour to cook or alternatively grill and southern fried takes around 20 minutes in the oven. The salad can be prepared into a bowl and any sides onto plates.

Stir-fry

What you need:

  • Wok/frying pan
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh chicken/ chorizo
  • Stir fry veg
  • Stir fry noodles
  • Stir fry sauce

To start with, pour olive oil into the pan and heat until hot and then add any fresh, chopped meat of you’re choice and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add stir-fry vegetables (you can buy bags of ready prepared stir fry veg), constantly stirring for 2-3 minutes. Next add the stir-fry noodles and stir those for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add in the stir-fry sauce for a further minute and once you have made sure everything is mixed in and piping hot, you’re ready to serve. Voila!

Sunday roast

What you need:

  • Glass dish
  • 3-tier steamer to boil and steam veg
  • Chicken breast/chipolatas
  • Frozen veg
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Roast potatoes
  • Gravy granules

The chicken or chipolatas must be put straight in the oven first, taking 30 minutes (check every so often). Your veg takes around 20 minutes so these will need to go into the steamer 10 minutes after, remembering to keep checking them and turning the heat down as necessary. Your roast potatoes will need to go in the oven at the same, adding your Yorkshires in for the last 15 minutes. Just before you are ready to plate everything up, boil the kettle and add a couple of spoonful’s of gravy granules into a jug. Pour boiling hot water in and stir immediately until you have the consistency you like and there you have it!


Tessa’s Top Tips:

  • Always keep a good stock of tinned food in your cupboards and several ready meals in the freezer a week for those busy and lazy days! These are very comforting if you realise you have run low on food and need to go shopping!
  • Freezing things like bread, crumpets and veg last longer and save you money.
  • Remember, fresh food is always the healthier option, so the more confident you get at cooking the more healthy you can be!