When you’re a student, it can be difficult to cook well for yourself, especially if you don’t have much experience in the kitchen. A lack of quality meals can put a strain on your health, as well as your finances – since you’ll fill the gap by eating out and picking up cheap takeaways.
Fortunately, there are reliably tasty meals that don’t take too long to create, and that can be adapted to your dietary requirements. Some of the best of them can be cooked in large batches so that you can reheat them as required.
So, which recipes should you add to your culinary arsenal?
Soups are amazingly easy to make. They’re versatile, too: there are dozens of classic flavour combinations, and scope for endless experimentation. Carrot and coriander, leek and potato, chicken, tomato: whatever your tastes, there’s a soup to suit them.
You can make soup en masse in the biggest pot you can find, or in a pressure cooker. Use a stick blender (or any other kind of blender) to whiz it down until it’s silky smooth (or slightly chunky). Make sure that you taste it and season it accordingly before freezing.
If you can make soup for everyone you’re living with, then you might end up saving money as a collective.
To get proper takeaway-standard stir fry you don’t need a commercial extractor and a wok burner. Simply fry your ingredients separately, line them out on a few baking trays, and blowtorch for those smoky ‘wok hei’ notes.
Quality woks are either non-stick or they’re carbon steel. The latter require more maintenance, and if you’re looking for easy, healthy meals as a student, it pays to go for something simpler.
Similarly, it’s difficult to replicate the kind of cookery you might get from your local curry house – but you can give it a go with some simple workarounds. Cooking good curry requires a good understanding of the spice rack. You’ll also need to be able to wash and serve good rice to go with it. Throw a few star anise and cardamom pods in there, for good measure.
Chilli-con-Carne is one option, but if you’re looking to economise (or you’re a vegan), then it’s better to lean into the beans. There are several different options available, including pinto, black and the classic kidney. Buy them dried in large quantities and soak them overnight – or, if that sounds like hard work, buy them tinned.