University cooking might conjure up images of instant noodles and hodge-podge dinners made from fridge leftovers, but simple student fare can be delicious and even fit for a dinner party. Basic doesn't have to be boring, and thrifty plates can be suitably showstopping with the right ingredients.
First, make sure your house is stocked with all the student kitchen essentials and branch out with our best ever student recipes, or simply pick and choose your favourite dinner party starters, mains and desserts from the menu options below and present your meal with pride.
Looking for the perfect student gift? Create an easily customisable My BBC Good Food cookbook filled with your pick of essential uni recipes. It's sure to be a lifesaver for first-time cooks or budding chefs.
Soups are a surefire dinner party winner. They can be made using reasonably priced root, canned or frozen veggies, prepared in advance and vamped up with clever toppings and garnishes. Our creamy leek, butter bean & chorizo soup is irresistible. Serve with a hunk of warm, crusty bread and watch it disappear. For a vegetarian option, try our roasted sweet potato & carrot soup, top with a swirl of crème fraîche for an eye-catching final flourish.
Roast aubergines with yogurt & harissa make a great stress-free starter. Roasting brings out deep, earthy flavours and a tender texture that melts in the mouth. Alternatively, our halloumi, carrot & orange salad is perfect for cheese aficionados. Ribbons of fresh carrot with sweet and sharp citrus and salty halloumi cheese are a match made in heaven.
Jazz up a humble shop-bought hummus with our clever additions, like pistachio lamb meatballs, chorizo & red pepper or spiced cauliflower. Put together an easy meze platter for a help-yourself Middle Eastern-inspired starter, with minimal effort.
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Student main courses
Everyone enjoys a classic roast chicken dinner. Why not save yourself some time and effort with our summer roast chicken traybake? Give the traditional roast a revamp with a few tinned and frozen ingredients. Serve with a simple green salad or crusty bread for a main that will satisfy the pickiest of palates. Go for something full of indulgent flavours, like our gnocchi with mushrooms & blue cheese. Both soft, creamy goat's cheese and strong blue cheese work well in this simple dish, and it takes just 20 minutes to make.
You probably already have the bulk of the ingredients for a classic spaghetti carbonara in your kitchen cupboards. Invest in a block of parmesan and a pack of pancetta or streaky bacon and you can make this deliciously creamy, cheesy pasta treat. Everyone should have a rich risotto in their recipe arsenal. Our chorizo & pea risotto uses storecupboard and freezer ingredients to make a satisfying bowlful of comfort.
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Turn a handful of ingredients into something special with these clever recipe hacks. We love a make-ahead pudding we can prep in advance. Take five minutes to whip up our individual banoffee trifles with ready-made cake and sauces. Want something dark, sweet and sophisticated? Try our easy dark chocolate & cherry bars; they need just four ingredients and no one will guess they were made in under half an hour. A chocolate lover's dream dessert.
Make something fabulously fruity in the form of our apple crumble sundae. Transform some vanilla ice cream, ginger nut biscuits and Granny Smith apples into a dish everyone will want seconds of. Fancy a taste of nostalgia? Indulge in a slice of our coffee ice cream terrine, our grown-up twist on a childhood classic. Five everyday ingredients and 25 minutes is all it takes to create this dreamy cocoa-rich dish.
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More student-friendly recipes
What's your favourite cheap but impressive recipe? Leave a comment below...