Heading off to university and want to eat something other than pot noodles? Check out our delicious guide to cheap, easy dinners.

10 Cheap and Easy Meals for Freshers

Being a fresher can be tough - late night parties, early morning lectures, battles over who owns the milk and being away from the securities of home for the first time. And to top it all off, you’re on a budget and absolutely starving! Even for students who used to love cooking at home, making filling and healthy meals at university with limited equipment can be daunting. Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, carb-lover or carnivore, you’ll be sure to find something in our guide of the top recipes for freshers.


1. Vegetable and Bean Chilli

Vegetable and bean chilli


Chilli is an excellent meal for the hungry vegetarian student, and this budget-friendly recipe is packed full of fibre and protein. The recipe serves four, so make the whole batch and share with your flatmates, or stash in the fridge for meals all week long. Best of all, it only requires one big pot and a spoon for stirring!

Top Tip: Make meals in big batches, then get your housemates to chip in or reheat the leftovers throughout the week.


2. Halloumi Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

halloumi burgers with sweet potato fries


Perfect for a barbeque, or simply cooked on the stove in your halls, these halloumi burgers are a vegetarian’s delight. The sweet potato fries are cooked in the oven, and even though the recipe suggests using a griddle pan for the halloumi, an ordinary frying pan will do the trick. Whether you’ve got people visiting to watch the football or you’re trying to impress a vegetarian date, these burgers should hit the spot.

Top Tip: If you’re vegetarian, or just trying to save money, substitute meat for hearty vegetables such as mushrooms and aubergines and ramp up the flavour by experimenting with different cheeses.


3. Spinach, Sweet Potato and Lentil Dhal

Spinach, Sweet Potato and Lentil Dhal


This vegan one-pot wonder packs a punch with a mix of spices and a rainbow of colours. The ingredients list might look a bit long, but the vegetables are pretty cheap and require little prep. If you can’t afford all the spices, pick one or find a mix with the similar ingredients, or ask to borrow a friend’s. An excellent make-ahead recipe.

Top Tip: Olive oil, whilst delicious on bread and over salads, often gets lost when you cook with it. For an unusual twist, use sesame oil to give dishes a nutty, fragrant flavour.


4. Fried Cauliflower, Chickpea and Swiss Chard

Fried Cauliflower, Chickpea and Swiss Chard


This is a great and simple vegan recipe, perfect for throwing into a frying pan when you get in after a long day of lectures and interesting enough to entertain your tastebuds. Don’t forget the lemon juice - that’ll lift the dish and really make it sing!

Top Tip: Leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach and kale are excellent when softened for a few minutes in a pan just before serving, and are an excellent source of iron.


5. Marmite Spaghetti


Marmite Spaghetti


No list of quick and easy recipes would be complete without this queen of quick pasta recipes. Of course, if you are marmite averse this might be your worst nightmare, but for those of us who love its tangy, salty flavour this is a match made in heaven. Halfway through a 3,000 word essay, at 10pm, with a deadline looming, take ten minutes out to whip up a bowl of Marmite spaghetti and dive into its glossy depths.

Top Tip: Dress up simple spaghetti with olive oil, strong hard cheeses, crushed garlic and fresh herbs.


6. Easy Spinach Ricotta Pasta

Spinach Ricotta Pasta


Pasta dishes are often the staple of the new student because they are quick, easy and filling, but all too often end up served in a thick tomato sauce. Whilst this is great (tomatoes are notoriously healthy) it’s nice to switch it up a bit. This is where our ricotta recipe comes to the rescue - creamy, comforting, yet an absolute doddle to make, this recipe is a winner.

Top Tip: Instead of making a complicated roux and a white sauce, ricotta or creme fraiche both provide speedy shortcuts to instant creamy pasta. It may not the healthiest dish, but it’s deliciousness excuses it.


7. Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings

Buffalo Chicken Wings and Beer


Sometimes you need to make a big batch of delicious food to feed a crowd. These Buffalo chicken wings can be prepped the night before and left in the fridge, then chucked in the oven at the last minute. Serve with cold beers and lots of kitchen towel for the inevitable sticky fingers.

Top Tip: Try shopping for unusual cuts of meat. Wings, offal, and the tougher cuts of lamb and beef are often incredibly cheap, but with the right recipe can become a star dish.


8. Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree


Fish, like meat, can often be expensive and a luxury that lots of student’s don’t feel their budget will stretch to. But smoked mackerel, along with kippers and other cooked fish sold in vacuum-packets in the supermarket are often much cheaper. This recipe is both speedy and budget-friendly, with an egg thrown in for good luck!

Top Tip: Oily fish, such as mackerel, are a great source of brain-boosting Omega-3 - perfect for blasting through those exams during revision season.


9. Sichuan-Style Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry

Sichuan-Style Pork and Green Bean Stir-fry


This recipes that serves two is perfect for date night on a budget - simple enough that you won’t spend all night slaving over the cooker, but unusual enough to impress. Eat with chopsticks for extra flair.

Top Tip: Head to the reduced section of supermarkets in the evening for reduced meat - just be prepared for a bit of elbowing to grab the best deals and remember to freeze meat as soon as you get home if you’re not going to eat it the same day.


10. The Perfect Omelette, Seven Ways



Omelettes are an excellent way to use up any leftover bits and pieces left lurking in the fridge at the end of the week - and this recipe is seven-in-one, with excellent instructions for omelette novices. Master this, and never go hungry again.

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