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?
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...
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:
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
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
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!
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:
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
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
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
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