Freshers' Week 2015: 23 cheap and easy meals and recipes that cost less than a pint to make for new university students

Mouth-wateringly quick and cheap meals and recipes to keep any student going throughout the academic year

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The Independent Online

Freshers’ Week can be busy. As students unpack, make friends, party, and try out every university society, they can often trade a healthy home-cooked meal in favour of an expensive take-away pizza.

Eating takeaways and microwave meals means students who are probably sleep-deprived, among other things, are missing-out on important nutrients. More importantly, they’re losing-out on pennies.

Trust me: Pot Noodles and takeaways are not your friend. They don’t have the right nutrients in to fill you up through the high-energy events of Freshers’ and they really don’t work out that cheap.

Never fear, though, if you’re a student about to embark on the journey away from Mum’s Sunday roast and towards beans on toast, here’s a list of cheap and easy meals that anyone can throw together:

1) Spaghetti bolognese – A staple of the student diet, this is nutritious and delicious, and is great to share; making this in your new accommodation can be a great way to bond with your new friends, or if you don’t fancy sharing it can be easily frozen. It’s cheap too and, if careful, can be made at a cost of around £1-per-person. Vegetarian? Simply substitute the beef for Quorn. See a full recipe here.

2) Strawberry and almond tartsThis might seem like the super-posh food that your aunty serves at her dinner parties, but at only 74p-per-serving, this easy recipe is a guaranteed way to impress your new flatmates.

3) Stir-fry – A cheap, quick, and nutritious meal which can be made in minutes. It’s also really easy to make for one or many. See a full recipe for a chicken stir-fry here (for a veggie option, just exclude the chicken and add extra veg. It’s just as tasty).

4) Pasta bake – These are great. You can bake them on a Sunday and eat all week. Alternatively, they’re great for a cooking in big groups. They’re versatile too and can be used with (or without) varieties of meat, fish, and veg. See a full recipe here.

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(Clotee Allochuku via Flickr)

5) Thai mango chicken – This may seem like a fancy meal for ladies that lunch with a side of quinoa, but it’s very affordable and easy to make. At only £2.37-per-serving, it’s low-fat and refreshing, and great for helping that hangover after a heavy night out. See the full recipe here.

6) Granola – With breakfast being the most important meal of the day, granola or porridge are cheap and stress-free to prepare and full of slow-release energy which is perfect for busy days of trying out societies and buying posters. See a full recipe here.

7) Pancakes – Great for sharing and fun to cook with friends. Extremely cheap and simple to make too. See a full recipe here.

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(jeffreyw via Flickr)

8) Pizza omelette – Any kind of omelette is great, cheap and, easy to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – or even as a snack. A pizza omelette is more fun to make and a lot less expensive than going to a takeaway. Of course, all the ingredients can be easily substituted to suit differing taste buds. See the full recipe here.

9) Olive bread swirls – Great fun to make as a light lunch, breakfast or snack, and at only £1.83-per-serving, this is a cheap Freshers’ Week treat that looks super-posh.

10) Risotto – Fantastic dinner to make as a group, or to freeze and eat for a week. This is a great chicken and pea recipe, but can easily be switched to a vegetarian or pea-free option for ‘greenophobes’.

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(Alpha via Flickr)

11) Pitta pizza – Brilliant alternative to a late-night takeaway, a light lunch, or a mid-morning snack. This recipe has instructions to cook tomato sauce from scratch, but that can easily be substituted with a 70p tube of tomato puree. Most major supermarkets will sell a bag of six pittas for around 50p, tomato paste for 70p, and a decent ball of mozzarella for £1. That’s £2.20 in total – less than 37p a portion.

12) Jacket potato – Possibly one of the easiest meals there is to cook, inexpensive, healthy and full of energy. Try rubbing in olive oil, salt, and pepper before baking. See a full recipe here.

13) Curry – Takeaway curries are great, but often they’re overpriced and full of MSG. Homemade curry is much healthier and helps to save the pennies. Making curry from scratch can be done in ten to 15 minutes and is full of protein and great for sharing. Chicken can be easily substituted for almost any veg. Peppers would be ideal. See a full Thai recipe here.

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(Steven Depolo via Flickr)

14) Piri-piri chicken and rice This recipe is famous at Nando’s, but will give you change from £2. It’s low-fat, high in protein, and really easy to-do.

15) Refried bean quesadilla – At around £1-per-serving, this is a great veggie option to cook as a group. Overall, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to have a night-in with your flatmates.

16) FajitasThese fajitas come it at around £1-per-serving, but may go up in price if you add meat. They’re a great social food, high in protein, and perfect to fuel-up before a night of drinking and dancing. See the full recipe here.

17) Nachos – A great late-night snack, lunch, dinner – or even starter. While it could be argued, traditionally, they’re not the healthiest of foods, they are easy, tasty, and super-cheap to make at around 95p-per-serving. See a full recipe here.

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(jeffreyw via Flickr)

18) Hummus and pitta – If you’re lucky enough to have a blender in your kitchen (or your neighbours have one you can borrow), hummus is a really easy dip that be whizzed up in minutes for about £1. With the accompanying pitta breads costing around 50p-per-packet, you really can’t complain. See a full recipe here.

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(Ewan Munro via Flickr)

19) Salad – Salads don’t have to be boring. They are often low-fat, high in protein, cheap, and delicious meals which can fill you up with much needed nutrients. Try out this chicken BLT salad here.

20) Red onion, feta, and olive tart – A great starter, snack, or even a main course that will impress your new housemates. At only 85p-per-serving, it’s affordable as well as delicious. See a full recipe here.

21) Soup – Delicious, warm comfort food for cold halls and flats, soup is ideal in chasing away the woes during the first week away from home. Not only is probably one of the more versatile recipes out there, it’s also easily freeze-able so can last for months. Try this recipe for tomato soup. At around 40p a portion, it’s something to bookmark. This more adventurous spicy pepper and tomato soup with cucumber yoghurt will only cost you 72p-per-serving.

22) Malt chocolate ice-cream – Sharing ice-cream is guaranteed to make you popular over Freshers’ and making it with friends at only 84p-per-serving in cheaper and more fun than sharing a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. See the full recipe here.

23) Quick canapé crostini This recipe from Lorraine Pascal is quick, easy, and definitely guaranteed to impress.

Twitter: @bridiepjones

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