How to survive as a student - basic recipes

Starting university this year? You've probably bought the books, packed your bags and even popped to Ikea for last minute essentials – but did you remember to learn to cook?

Sweet potato fajitas

If your kitchen skills leave a lot to be desired then fear not, our favourite student basics will see you through your first term and beyond...

Minestrone soupMinestrone soup

Just before I was packed off to university my Mum insisted I learn at least one healthy recipe in an attempt to stave off vitamin deficiency and avoid a dedicated packet noodle existence. The recipe she chose was minestrone soup - packed with veg and energy boosting carbohydrates, a big batch of this cheap and speedy soup is freezer friendly and full of goodness. Thanks Mum!


Simple staple: Frozen veg means no chopping and gets a healthy and homely soup on the table in just 10 minutes: 
Minestrone in minutes

Make it more interesting: This restaurant-standard French recipe is one to try when the folks are visiting - sure to impress:
Pistou soup

Gnocchi and tomato bakePasta bake

A classic student failsafe, pasta bake doesn't have to be the cheese-laden vision we imagine on hearing the words. Let storecupboard staples like pasta and tinned tomatoes be your base and then get creative with your favourite veg, herbs and try reduced-fat crème fraîche for a lovely texture with less of the stodge.

Simple staple: Full of the good stuff, this bake will be ready in a flash and is healthy to boot. Share with friends or freeze leftovers for easy mid-week meals:
Gnocchi & tomato bake

Make it more interesting: A make-ahead dish designed for entertaining, but won't cost a fortune - perfect Friday food for friends:
Baked rigatoni with aubergine & mozzarella

Baked beans with jacket potatoJacket potatoes

Jacket potatoes are a great speedy food when cooked in the microwave but taste their best when lovingly crisped up in the oven.

Simple staple: While baked beans count as one of your five a day, shop bought varieties often pack in the salt so making your own is a healthy and still cost effective way to reap the benefits of an old favourite:
Jacket potatoes with homemade baked beans

Make it more interesting: Fill new potatoes with soured cream and chives for a bite-sized snack or cute canapé:
Mini jacket potatoes

One-pan rice

With a bag of rice in the cupboard you're never more than 15 minutes from a satisfying and speedy supper. Make your grains brown or wholegrain for added health credentials.

Simple staple: Use up leftovers in this quick, fuss-free dish:
Fast-fix fried rice

Make it more interesting: This show-stopping supper serves 10 and is presented in hollowed out pumpkins - make all year round, but especially Halloween!
Pumpkin biryani

Roll your own fajitasFajitas

Whether feeding friends or whipping up a mid-week main, you can't go far wrong with fajitas. Add and swap ingredients to accommodate taste and budget.

Simple staple: slice, chop and serve - rolling your own fajitas is fun and a fast way to get dinner on the table:
Roll-your-own fajitas


Make it more interesting: With a little effort you can elevate the failsafe fajita to a Mexican masterpiece using cheap pork cuts, homemade mole sauce and a side of chunky salsa:
Pulled pork with Mexican almond mole sauce

Make it veggie: Oven-baked sweet potato fajitas

Summer vegetable curryThai curry

Pack your store cupboard full of Thai spices, curry paste and coconut milk and you'll be ready to whip up a classic Asian curry, whatever the occasion.

Simple staple: Packed with goodness, this veggie feast should be a permanent fixture on all meal planners:
Summer vegetable curry

Make it more interesting: Up for a challenge? Roll up your sleeves and make your own authentic Thai curry paste to add to your favourite green curry:
Green curry paste


Don't forget breakfast! Make your own granola and add your favourite nuts, fruit and seeds to rolled oats. Store in a sealed container to help keep the crunch.

Simple staple: This recipe is sweetened with honey for a natural energy boost:
Crunchy granola with berries & cherries


Make it more interesting: Bake all the goodness of your granola into chewy breakfast bars - ideal when you need to enjoy breakfast on the go:
Cinnamon berry granola bars

Skinny pepper, tomato and ham omeletteOmelettes

Eggs are a cheap source of high quality protein and are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Whipping up an omelette for one couldn't be easier, making for a speedy lunch or satisfying solo supper.

Simple staple: You can't go wrong with classic ham & cheese - add tomatoes for extra health benefits:
Skinny pepper, tomato & ham omelette

Make it more interesting: Practice your soufflé skills with this fluffy and filling supper. Experiment with different fillings to find your favourite:
Cheese & ham souffléd omelette

Need more inspiration? Try our favourite student dishes and make a note of our essential recipes for university

Comments, questions and tips

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Charlotte Jones
17th Mar, 2015
We got a lot of inspiration for our blog from this website. Occasionally we found the recipes to be a bit too 'studenty'. Omelette, pasta bake and fajitas are made every week in our flat, it started getting repetitive, so we tried to make a twist on recipes to make them cheap and affordable. We can't afford to buy different spices and curry pastes, so don't be ashamed to buy a ready made sauce or the fajita packs - the smoky bbq flavour is amazing! Check out the blog if you're interested: