Fool-proof freshers' food

Grace Dean discusses her favourite student meals that are affordable, healthy and tasty.

Grace Dean
15th October 2016
Cooking as a fresher is difficult. There’s a little triangle you’ve got to somehow balance – meals must be affordable, healthy and tasty, and it can often be difficult to satisfy all three needs. Add to that the limited kitchen utensils and ingredients in the average student kitchen, and you often find yourself in rather a pickle. Despite that, there are many fool-proof dishes you can make in halls that tick all the boxes.

Something that springs to mind is the humble fish finger sandwich, which uses only staple student ingredients yet can be a classy affair with the addition of seeded brown bread, crispy radicchio lettuce, tartar sauce and capers, or can get your tastebuds kicking with a dash of sweet chilli sauce. Similarly a basic jacket potato, pitta bread or plain wrap can be easily jazzed up with a range of fillings – add leftover chilli, roasted veggies, or even pizza-inspired toppings (think tomato sauce, mozzarella and oregano), and a 20p potato can be transformed into a substantial meal that would impress your mum.

Mac and cheese is well within the cooking ability of the average student – simply make a white sauce, add cheese, cook the pasta and then bake til golden. You can also use up leftover ingredients – add sandwich ham or bacon for a meaty flavour, sprinkle breadcrumbs from stale bread on top, or get some of your five-a-day by adding any surplus veggies you may have (peppers and broccoli are particularly recommended).

If you need a sugar kick then mug cakes can be a dessert fit for a king and capable of quenching any sweet tooth. Only very basic ingredients are needed, and a one-person-portion of cake can be made in under five minutes using only a mug, fork and microwave.

Even though as a teenager the kitchen may sometimes be a scary place, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new recipes and adventurous flavour combinations to keep your eating habits varied, and when you’re exploring Grainger Market or ravaging the reduced section at Tesco, encourage yourself to pick up new foods. You may find a new food love (like I did with papaya and mango), and if not, at least you won’t have broken the bank in doing so and can finally tick ‘I’ve eaten black pudding!’ off your bucket list!

Should you be in the need for quick food inspiration, there are a variety of apps, bloggers and websites out there where you can filter recipes by allergies, what you have in your fridge and how much time you want to spend cooking. Ones ideal for students include Buzzfeed Food on Facebook, Tastemade on Snapchat and the BBC Good Food website, which has an extensive ‘How To’ section and range of quick and easy recipes for even the most inexperienced cooks.

And ultimately, it wouldn’t be fair to write an article on ‘fun fool-proof freshers food’ without addressing Eat4Less. A chicken and bacon baguette for 99p – can you ever go wrong?

Image: Lablascovegmenu on Flickr

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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