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Sending your child off to university can be scary for several reasons, made even worse if they can’t cook some simple meals.
Here’s some recipes anyone can cook to pass on to your child before they go. And if you are the type of person who can burn water, then you might be able to learn a thing or two yourself...
1. Spaghetti Bolognese
This is one dish that reminds your child of home but also tastes good no matter what you throw into it.
Once they’ve managed to sort out the correct spaghetti portion control, chuck it in a boiling pan and get the mince frying. A stock cube can bring out a lot more flavour, and a fair amount of cheese to top it off ends a hard day of lectures on a high note.
You can even help them save even more money by telling them to batch cook and freeze leftovers for even quick mealtimes later in the week.
Here's for a recipe from Gousto they'll find easy to make time and time again:
1 knorr beef stock cube
1 can of tomato frito
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 soy sauce sachet (8ml)
190g quick cook spaghetti
250g british beef mince
80g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
1 roasted garlic paste sachet (15g)
40g cheddar cheese, grated
Step 1. Boil a kettle. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of vegetable oil over the highest heat.
Step 2. Once hot, add the beef mince to the pan and cook for 3 min, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go.
Step 3. Add the quick cook spaghetti to a pot of boiled water with a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook the quick cook spaghetti for 3-4 min or until cooked with a slight bite
Step 4. Meanwhile, crumble the Knorr beef stock cube into the pan and add the chopped chestnut mushrooms, chopped spring onion, garlic paste and dried oregano and give everything a good mix up
Step 5. Add the tomato frito with 100ml water and the soy sauce and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, cook for 2-3 min or until the sauce has thickened and the beef mince is cooked through – this is your beef bolognese.
Step 6. Set the beef bolognese and cooked spaghetti in the centre of the table, ready to share. Top the bolognese with the grated cheddar, tear the basil leaves over, season with a grind of pepper and let everyone dig in.
2. Stir Fry
Plenty of veg? Check. Protein? Check. A meal that only requires the hob? CHECK. Stir fry is one of the seven wonders of the culinary world and is unbelievably easy to execute.
Just chuck some noodles in a pan of boiling water for a matter of minutes. While they are softening up, fry some veg with whatever protein you fancy in a pan (you don't need a fancy wok, any saucepan will do) and you’re done.
Splash some soy sauce on top of that heavenly meal and you’ve just created what can only be described as the most satisfyingly quick and delicious meal of choice. Here’s a recipe you and your child can try out, courtesy of BBC Good Food:
250g pack egg noodles
1tablespoon tomato puree
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon oil (sunflower or vegetable)
Small piece of fresh root ginger
300g pack stir-fry vegetables (or you can cut up some red pepper, mushrooms, onion, mange tout, baby sweetcorn or carrot – or any veg you like)
Step 1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the noodles, bring back to the boil and cook for 4 mins, then drain well. Mix the tomato purée, soy and chilli sauce in a small bowl with 150ml water.
Step 2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan or wok, add the ginger and vegetables and stir-fry for 2 mins. Add the noodles and sauce and cook for a further 2-3 mins until everything is piping hot.
3. Chilli Con Carne
Just like you all eat at the family table, this warming dish can be quite easily replicated in student digs. The ingredients for this one are pretty cheap, so they won’t break the bank, too.
You can add your own extras easily, with a splash of guacamole, salsa and sour cream to round it all off. As a one-pot wonder this dish works well with rice and wraps, and makes a perfect lunch for the next day too. Here's an easy recipe from Save the Student to try out:
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
250g beef or Quorn mince
450g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato Puree
1 red pepper
1 tin of kidney beans
1 beef or vegetable stock cube (optional)
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or more - depending on how hot you like it)
25g dark chocolate
Step 1: Add some oil to a wok or a large pan over a medium heat. Brown the mince (in other words, fry until there's almost no pink). Once the mince is browned, add the onions and garlic.
Step 2: Boil the kettle to make half a litre of beef/vegetable stock (follow instructions on the pack to make this).
Step 3: Once the onions have gone translucent, add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the chopped red pepper and about a tablespoon of the tomato puree. Stir and add some seasoning.
Step 4: Pour in the beef/vegetable stock. Stir again. Add as much chilli powder as you can bear (we'd suggest about half a teaspoon). Leave the chilli to simmer for around 20 mins.
Step 5: Once the liquid has reduced, cook your rice. While the rice is cooking, add in the can of kidney beans and grate in the dark chocolate to the chilli.
Step 6: Once the rice is cooked, divide the rice between plates/bowls and serve with a large helping of chilli on top. Serve this with some grated cheese on top.
4. Fully Loaded Jacket Potato
If this isn’t the perfect student meal we don’t know what is. It may not sound too exciting, but with a strong variety of toppings you can keep the meals exciting whilst being under budget.
To get a crunchy skin on the potato, bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. For the sake of your microwave too, remember to prick the potato before baking to avoid some unnecessary elbow grease. Here’s a bit of inspiration for you.
5. Cooked Breakfast
Whether it’s for the whole student flat after an epic party or to treat that post-library drowsiness, a full English can cure just about anything. It’s a favourite for just about anyone, and is a dish you can mix and match depending on what you fancy.
Hash browns, sausages, bread and other condiments can be frozen to last longer, and baked beans won’t go off as long as they’re opened. Here’s a good recipe we found from Sainsbury's:
2 tomatoes, halved
300 g pack mini Portabella mushrooms
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 rashers smoked back bacon
3 slices white bread, cut into triangles
4 slices black pudding
400 g baked beans
4 medium free-range eggs
Step 1. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Preheat the oven to 120°C, fan. Grill the sausages for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through. Add the tomatoes, cut-side up, and the mushrooms for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove from the grill and keep warm in the oven.
Step 2. Heat a large frying pan and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the bacon and fry until crisp and golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Step 3. Fry the bread in the pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan, then fry the black pudding for 2-3 minutes, until crisp on both sides. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Step 4. Place the baked beans in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a clean, large frying pan, then crack in the eggs and fry until the white has just set and the yolks are still slightly runny.
Step 5. To serve, divide among 4 plates and serve with mugs of tea.
6. Burger with Sweet Potato Fries
Burgers don’t sound too healthy, but when you take into account the sweet potato it seems a lot more balanced. Add corn on the cob and it just gets better. As a kind-of homemade Nando’s, you can make a tasty meal with minimum cooking time needed.
Complete with fried halloumi, buttery corn and the protein of your choice this meal is a go-to pick me up. Here’s a great sweet potato recipe from Allrecipes.com:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1x3-inch wedges
3 tablespoons soybean oil (often labelled "vegetable oil")
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Step 1. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Step 2. Place sweet potatoes and soybean oil in large bowl, toss lightly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd.
Step 3. Bake until tender and golden brown, turning occasionally. Cooking time is 18 to 24 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
7. No Blender Banana Shake
Besides the occasional George Forman grill, a lot of students don’t bring electronic cooking implements to their accommodation. For that much needed milkshake fix with a dose of potassium and no blender needed, this recipe below from Wikihow is the one for you.
All you need to have is some milk, a banana and whatever else floats your boat. The recipe is a good one for the library or any place where loud eating is shunned upon, and will actually do some good for your health.
1 ripe banana - slightly soft
About 200ml of milk – Enough to fill the glass you are using. Any milk can be used
Sweeteners – e.g. teaspoon or more of sugar, a teaspoon of honey or artificial sweetener
Step 1. Peel the banana and chop the banana up. You can cut it into pieces with a knife or by hand and you'll want to have about 7 slices depending on how long your banana is.
Step 2. Mash slices. Put the slices into a glass and mash it with a wooden/metal spoon or whisk it until all mushy. You want the mixture to be as smooth as possible (although, it probably won't be as smooth as with a blender). If you're using berries too, smash them firmly until mushy then combine it with the banana and continue to mix.
Step 3. Add in your sweetener and continue mixing. You should now be able to stir it with your spoon. Slowly top the puree with the milk. Do this until nearly full or until your desired amount.
Step 4. Blend in the milk with the puree with a spoon. You want to make sure that it is nice and smooth.
Step 5. Cool your smoothie. Top your glass with the crushed ice if desired and mix to make the whole drink cold. Serve and enjoy your delicious milkshake.