Leaving home and heading to uni to fend for yourself can seem like a daunting step. Make sure you’re prepared with our simple student recipes, ideal for cooking on a tight budget. Learn how to make hearty curries and chillis, easy pasta bakes and more impressive dishes for casual entertaining.
Stock up on the basics
First, make sure your kitchen cupboards are full to bursting with affordable staples you’ll use frequently. Try these to start with…
- Tinned chickpeas, lentils and pulses
- Tinned tomatoes
- Frozen fruit and veg
- Rice and dried pasta
- Tinned fish
- Spices and seasoning
Learn to batch cook
Cook once, freeze and enjoy meals at a later date. Batch cooking makes the most of your ingredients and is great for avoiding food waste. Make one of these satisfying bulk recipes on the weekend when you have more time.
Our easy big-batch Bolognese is ideal for feeding a crowd, especially if you take turns cooking in shared accomodation. For a veggie option, try this healthy double bean chilli which you can eat with rice, fajitas or pasta. For an indulgent treat, try this easy pulled beef ragu, a recipe cooked low and slow for a richer flavour.
Take a look at our batch cooking collection for more delicious freezable meal ideas.
Try adaptable recipes
It’s always a good idea to learn one basic recipe that you can adapt depending on what’s in the fridge. Curry is a great place to start. Make this basic curry sauce and you have an easy shortcut to a quick chicken curry or a meat-free veggie version. Having canned ingredients like chopped tomatoes and chickpeas in the cupboard makes life easier (see below).
Try whipping up a Mexican feast if you’re catering for friends and include these fun roll-your-own fajitas. You can swap in ingredients depending on dietary requirements and veg preferences. With any leftover tortilla wraps, try these cheesy bean & chipotle quesadillas for a hearty lunch.
Use storecupboard staples
Master super easy storecupboard recipes using those old favourites, rice and pasta. If you’re happy to stand and stir, try one of our risotto recipes with a variety of veggies and seasonings. Egg-fried rice is also perfect for using up leftovers. It’s also worth learning how to make tasty lunches like a classic dhal with a bag of lentils and some well chosen seasoning.
Stock up on tins, cans and frozen veg for easy go-to bulking ingredients. Our tuna pasta bake uses tinned tuna and sweetcorn with plenty of cheddar for a filling, tasty supper.
Take a look at our leftovers collection for more budget-friendly snacks and suppers.
Everyone needs comfort food and the classic baked potato ticks so many boxes. Read up on how to make the ultimate spud as well as ideas for cheap and tasty toppings. Eggs are also a handy, cheap protein-boosting ingredient that can be added to just about any dish. Omelettes, tortillas, rice pots and even shakshukas are nutritious meals that you can make with just a handful of ingredients. Take a look at our healthy egg collection for low-cost recipes with that all-important key ingredient.
Soups are yet another way to pack in the veg and are good for freezing in advance. This classic tomato soup uses tinned tomatoes and is perfect for chilly evenings. You can also make a hearty cottage pie with your favourite veg, a simple stock, or sauce, and a crisp mashed potato topping. We’re particularly fond of this Italian veggie cottage pie. Grab an apron and check out our pie collection for more mouthwatering sweet and savoury slices.
Perfect pasta dishes
Once you’ve mastered a classic lasagne, you’ll be the most popular housemate on campus. This easy roasted vegetable lasagne only takes a bit of assembling, if you cook the sauces in advance, and it won’t break the bank. Check out our best ever pasta bake recipes for more ideas and whip up a batch of this roasted red pepper sauce and keep it in the freezer. It’s great with pasta and it goes well with our baked gnocchi, too.
These treats are just the thing for when you’re craving something sweet but don’t have the time or kitchen space for serious baking. Try this melt-in-the-middle mug cake for a shot of chocolatey goodness in four minutes flat. Read our tips on how to make the best mug cakes with a microwave and a few of your favourite flavours. If you want something fruity, these autumnal baked apples and our apple crumble sundae are both ready in no time.
If you’ve got parents or friends to wow, take a look at our easy but impressive recipe collection.