Five quick and easy main meal recipes for students

Everyone has at least one 'signature' recipe that they're really good at, but it gets boring after a while. So we've gathered some recipes that might give you some inspiration in the kitchen...

Ah, university. Like most students you've flown the nest and you're now having to fend for yourself - you are no longer tied to your mother's apron strings, and it's unlikely you'll be able to afford to buy takeaways all the time. So, what do you do? Where do you start learning to cook? Well, luckily, staff at The Independent have picked out their best - and worst - quick, easy meals for students that they remember from their student heydays. Some of which were a long time ago - just a friendly warning.

Speedy chicken noodle soup

100 g medium rice noodles
800 ml chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
4 x 2-3 mm thick slices of unpeeled root ginger
300 g chicken breast or chicken thighs, very thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp fish sauce, (nam pla)
Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemons
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced at an angle
4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander


  1. Place the rice noodles in a bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to soak for 4–5 minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet, until softened.
  2. While they are soaking, place the stock in a saucepan with the garlic and ginger. Bring to the boil, then add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes until the chicken is opaque. Add the fish sauce and lime juice to taste, then add in the spring onions and coriander.
  3. Drain the noodles and divide between four warmed bowls, top with the soup and serve hot

The Three Thai Green

1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 Medium size chicken breasts, sliced or diced
3 Tablespoons of green curry paste
3 Tablespoons of fish sauce
3 Deseeded Red or Green Chillies
3 teaspoons of sugar
1 Tin of Coconut Milk
1 small pack of Mangetout
1 small pack of Baby Sweetcorn
Handful of fresh basil


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the green curry paste, chilies and diced chicken and cook until the chicken begins to brown.
  2. Reduce the heat and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar until  thickened slightly. This should take roughly 10 mins.
  3. Finally add the mangetout, baby sweetcorn or any other veg you may want to use and cook for a further 5-10mins.
  4. Check for seasoning, adding more sugar or spice if needed.
  5. When ready to serve add the basil for that fresh taste!

Late Night Quesadillas

Large flour tortillas
Grated cheese
Olive oil
Mushrooms, sliced
Onions, chopped
Tuna, tinned
Tomatoes, diced
Whatever you can find in your fridge or cupboards


  1. Heat frying pan to medium high heat and add half a teaspoon of oil (you could use butter as well).  Take one flour tortilla and place it in the pan, flipping it over a few times (10 seconds between flips). 
  2. When air pockets begin to form sprinkle a handful of grated cheese over the top (make sure the cheese does not land on the pan itself) then add your additional ingredients ie mushrooms, tuna, etc.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan to melt the cheese, then use a spatula to lift up one side and flip over the other side as if you were making an omlette.  Turn the heat up if the tortilla is not already brown.  Remove from the pan and cut into wedges.

Spicy Student Chilli

750g of Minced Meat
1 onion Chopped
1 can of Chopped Tomatoes
1 chopped red pepper
1 Beef Stock Cube
1 Splash of Lea and Perrins
1 Tin of Kidney Beans (drain and rinse before you use)
A lump (around 2 table spoons) of Tomato Puree
Chilli Powder
1 Clove of Chopped Garlic
A little bit of olive oil (to cook in)


  1. Put a little olive oil into a frying pan.
  2. Once hot fry the chopped onion and garlic until the onions start to go brown.
  3. Add the mince meat, break it up before hand with your hands or in the pan with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add stock cube and Lea and Perrins, stir everything together until the meat goes brown.
  5. Add the tomato puree and stir in.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and pepper and stir in.
  7. Add the kidney beans and stir in.
  8. Add the chilli Powder to taste (It is a bit trial and error. But more Chilli Power = Hotter Chilli; if you make it too hot, add sugar to take out the heat)
  9. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 6-10 minutes so it can thicken. 

Serve on rice or a jacket potato with a spoonful of sour cream, can be frozen as single portions too, to last a little longer.  You can use the same base for this for a spaghetti bolognese but add herbs not chilli and replace the kidney beans with more peppers or other vegetables.

Marmite Spaghetti

1 tsp marmite - or vegemite if you prefer
Knob of butter
1/2 cup pasta water
Handful of spaghetti
Grated parmesan


  1. Cook the spaghetti as per the packet
  2. 5 mins before cooking end time heat the butter marmite and 1/2 cup pasta water until melted
  3. Toss pasta with marmite mixture and sprinkle with lots of parmesan
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