5 Easy Peasy Cheaper Than Chips Recipes for Students

- with just a handful of ingredients (for students who like to eat real food)

I was packing some bits and pieces for my twin teens yesterday. They’re heading off to the big smoke for university this weekend. I know they cook at home but I wonder how this will translate in student accommodation. After all, with a chef and food writer for a parent, and kitchen cupboards that are almost falling off the walls with ingredients and spices from around the globe, it would be odd if they didn’t like to cook. But what about when they’re sitting in their halls with a poky little kitchen and it’s soul-less empty cupboards?

I started thinking they probably need a shopping list to get them started. And I wondered if it would be helpful (or interfering) for me to jot down a few simple recipes; dishes with only a handful of ingredients that they could easily make in more limited surroundings? Yes was the resounding answer from some of my friends, and the teens themselves. So here it is. Five easy peasy recipes that are cheaper than chips and might even win a few new friends over dinner.

  1. First things first. You need to make a shopping list. Yes you will get seduced by the cheap sugary stuff too, but at least start out with a core set of ingredients that you can cook from and will feed you well.
  2. All of these dishes can be prepared in one pan. I’ve learned from experience that one good pan is better than many poor quality ones. One medium sized deep frying pan with a lid would be my first choice.
  3. Everybody’s palate is slightly different. Adjust the amount of chilli and salt to your own taste. So add a little, then taste the food and add some more if you like.
  4. You’re likely to be sharing a kitchen with new housemates, so be a clean and tidy kitchen elf.
  5. Phone your mum.



Follow the links here for a downloadable pdf of each recipe:

Easy Peasy Peanut Satay

Noodle Soup for Dummies

Simple Dal with Garlic & Lemon

Spicy Tomato Ragu

Spinach Masala



The shopping list below provides the basis of stuff needed to make the basic recipes above. It can be challenging to live on a student budget, so a small selection of dried spices can be really helpful. Buy them from a local Indian or Pakistani grocery shop rather than the supermarket, as you will save a small fortune. I’ve also included some extras at the bottom, in case you’re feeling flush or want to impress a little more. A few of the dishes leave the option for you to add your favourite things like peppers, mushrooms, chapattis, quorn pieces or whatever's your bag. So have a read of the recipes and add those things to your shopping list.

You will need:

Dried rice noodles (flat or vermicelli type)


Red lentils

Tinned tomatoes

Tin of coconut milk

Crunchy peanut butter

Frozen leaf spinach

Veg oil (light olive oil, rapeseed, sunflower etc)

Salt (try to avoid table salt as it's full of crap & bad your heart)

Dried chilli flakes or chilli powder

Turmeric powder (also called haldi, bright yellow powder)

Vegetable stock, preferably powder

Garam masala (Indian spice powder)

Fresh garlic

Fresh ginger

Fresh limes or lemons (or both)


Frozen leaf spinach

Fresh tomatoes

Your favourite vegetables, tofu, quorn etc


Feeling a bit more flush?

Fresh coriander


Fresh red chillies

Mustard seeds

  • Posted on September 15 2016

  • News

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