Cheap as Chips (but so much tastier!)

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After living out for a term, it can become difficult to try and find recipes to cook that are cheap, quick, and easy to make, as sometimes cooking after a long day seems daunting, and contrary to popular belief, the easiest and cheapest option is not to pop into Urban Oven. It’s sometimes hard to make a student meal that’s cheap, nutritionally balanced, appetizing and quick to make, which is why Palatinate Food and Drink have taken to the streets of Durham to find out what other students enjoy as an easy, quick student dinner for some inspiration!

Studies have shown that the average student spends approximately £32 a week on food, meaning that sometimes something has to go in order to save money for a night out – and often that’s from the food budget. However, through careful choice of ingredients and taking advantage of deals – and the treasure trove that is the Tesco reduced section – it is certainly not impossible to put your (however limited) culinary skills to good use and cook up something delicious!

tacos

Easy additions to make your meal better:

-Add as much veg as you can – often these can take very little time to cook (think tomatoes, spinach, frozen peas, sweetcorn) and can add substance and colour to your meal. And let’s not forget the importance of your 5 a Day!

-Use fresh herbs – they’re often in the reduced section at Tesco, and a few basil leaves, coriander, or a sprig of rosemary can really make a difference, especially in comparison to those ancient dried herbs you probably have at the back of your cupboard. And if you’re looking to spruce up your meals further, any herb looks pretty as a garnish.

-Branch out – don’t just stick to chicken or mince; fish is often cheaper in comparison (look at the salmon or smoked haddock next time you’re in Tesco), and meat substitutes like Quorn or Tofu are often an option – even for meat eaters – as they are usually half the price some meats – and if you put them in a strong sauce, you can’t really tell!

Miriam, 3rd Year– Vegetarian risotto is my favourite! Asparagus risotto is a staple, but courgette and thyme is also delicious. Risotto is quick, you often make enough for the next day, and it’s easy to adapt to whatever you have in the fridge– and it’s vegetable-y so is a healthy dinner choice!

Sinead, 2nd Year – I like to make chicken tacos because they’re simple to make, only take about ten minutes and you can have as much flavour as you want. All you have to do is fry chicken, add spice powder, put ready-made tacos in the oven and top with cheese and salsa!

Hannah, 3rd Year– Quinoa with fajita-spiced chicken and peppers because it’s filling, extremely full of flavour – and it’s the only thing I ever cook because it’s so easy! Quinoa also has a higher protein content than other grains and so will keep you fuller for a lot longer.

Laura, 2nd Year – Tesco’s frozen Mexican bean burgers are a staple for me, as they involve very little preparation – simply putting in the oven from frozen – and they’re really tasty and extremely adaptable! You can have them with salad, or in a bun, or with veg – they’re a great choice for a quick, cheap, weeknight meal.

Philippa, 3rd Year – I guess pan-fried steak with roasted Mediterranean style vegetables, because it’s cheap and easy, and if you rub the steaks with salt, pepper and some herbs, and drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, it’s also delicious. While it may be Everyday Value steak and not even closely resembling anything you might get in a restaurant, you still feel a little fancy – at least, fancier than the monotony of standard student pasta and tomato sauce. Plus, you can pretty much use any vegetables you like, getting rid of awkward leftovers.

Zoe, 3rd Year – one of my favourite meals is a chicken breast stuffed with pesto and wrapped in bacon – it looks fancy but it’s really easy! You can put it on a tray with some veg to roast for half an hour and it’s cooked – and with minimal washing up!

Photographs: paPisc and jeffreyw on Flickr.

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