Easy recipes to cook on a student budget

cookies baking in the ovenLockdown has given me a chance to think and reflect. I have tried to achieve things in lockdown but in a few instances have seen little to no change. It started to get me down. Then I thought back to where I was this time last year and I saw a lot of change. This time last year I was burdened with worries. Nothing unusual for a year 13 student. “Do I know everything I need to for my exams?”, “Have I got everything I need for school?”, “What do I need to buy for uni, if I get in?”.

Then it hit me. I was taking my exams and revising and was therefore in control of the outcomes of all of my major worries but, because of COVID-19, the current year 13 have lost all their control. On top of the normal worries, they’re faced with a whole new set of worries, including whether or not they will even be able to start university in September (and here at Marjon, they can).

I knew I wanted to help so I am creating a series of blogs with all the tips, tricks and skills current university students such as myself believe you need to know before moving to uni. I’m not going to call it a complete guide, because some things you just have to learn for yourself.

The top skill I recommend you having is cooking. This will save you money and can actually help you make friends. Here are a few simple baking and cooking recipes that I think can be achieved on a student budget (well I know they can, I’ve done it).

Recipe 1: Seasoned wedges

@marjonuniCooking week: day 1: seasoned wedges! ##recipes ##uk ##uni ##lockdown ##marjon ##upthejons♬ Thank You Baked Potato – Matt Lucas

Wedges are so simple to make, can genuinely go with almost anything and, in a real crunch, can even be a meal all by themselves. Making them yourself is also a lot cheaper than buying frozen chips etc. (Also, before you say it, yes I am aware that I lay my recipes out like a primary school cookbook but I’m trying to make it as user friendly as possible).

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (duh)
  • Oil (I used sunflower but vegetable works well too)
  • Herbs and Spices – mixed herbs, garlic salt, paprika, cajun spice (if you like them a little hotter), any other seasonings you fancy, this combo usually goes down pretty well :))

Equipment:

  • Chopping board (it’s cleaner)
  • Knife (don’t cut your fingers off plz)
  • Pastry brush (not compulsory, you could just pour it but a brush gives a more even coating)
  • Cup (for mixing the spices)
  • Baking tray or roasting tin

Method

1) Cut up potatoes. I recommend slicing (about ½ an inch thick) then cutting those slices into wedges.

2) Transfer wedges onto baking tray. Spread them as evenly as possible, minimal overlaps/layers.

3) Fill a mug about 1/3 full with oil (you can add more if you need to). I don’t measure my herbs and spices I just kind of know what looks right after a little trial and error. Add them to the cup and mix thoroughly.

4) Pour/ paint the oil mix onto the wedges and bake. They take about 40 minutes at gas mark 5 (I don’t know what that is in Celsius, that is what google is for)

5) Enjoy (I hope)

Recipe 2: Upside-down pizza

@marjonuniCooking week: day 3: Upside-down pizza ##recipes ##uk ##uni ##lockdown ##marjon ##upthejons♬ On Top Of The World – Imagine Dragons

When you break this dish down, it’s not exactly like a pizza but it’s pretty dang good, and you can use a jar sauce to make it that much faster and easier.

Ingredients:

  • Mini meatballs
  • Bolognese sauce (jar or make your own)
  • Ciabatta
  • Cheese
  • Plain flour

Equipment:

  • Chopping board
  • Bread knife
  • Frying pan
  • Bowl
  • Serving spoon

Method:

1) (Optional) Coat the meatballs with flour. This will give them a crispy coating which tastes great.

2) Pop the meatballs in a pan over a medium heat. Stir regularly until cooked through and crispy.

3) Add your sauce. I used 2 small jars of sauce but you’ll know how much you like.

4) Allow to simmer for 10 minutes until sauce warmed through.

5) Whilst the sauce is simmering, cut ½ inch thick slices of ciabatta. I used 2.5 rolls but you may need less or more, depending on the size of your pan.

6) Once the sauce is warm, turn off the hob and lay your ciabatta over the top before covering with cheese.

7) Put under a medium grill until the cheese is melted and browning slightly.

8) Enjoy :))

Recipe 3: Spanish chicken

@marjonuniCooking week: day 2: Spanish Chicken ##recipes ##uk ##uni ##lockdown ##marjon ##upthejons♬ Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa

This one is best made as a sharing dish but you could make it and have it for a few meals if you popped the rest in a Tupperware in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (1 breast per person)
  • Chorizo (1/4 sausage per person)
  • New potatoes
  • Vegetables (my sister is fussy so we’ve used cauliflower and carrot but most veg would work well, peppers especially).

Equipment:

  • Chopping boards (preferably separate for meat and veg, but if not, clean it in between)
  • Knife
  • Roasting tin

Method

1) Chop and line the tin with any vegetables and the potatoes.

2) Chop the chicken and lay it evenly over the top.

3) Slide the chorizo and lay it evenly over the top.

4) Put in pre-heated oven at about gas mark 5-6 (google it).

5) Stir every 20 minutes or so. It takes roughly 1.5 hours total.

6) Enjoy :))

Recipe 4: Chewy golden cookies

@marjonuniCooking week: day 4: Chewy Golden Cookies ##recipes ##uk ##uni ##lockdown ##marjon ##upthejons ##cookies♬ Lemons – Demo – Brye

I’ve pinched this recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks. These cookies are LUSH and the batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days so you could just bake a few at a time so they’re always fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter (you’ll want sticks, not spreadable)
  • 250g soft light brown sugar
  • 350g golden syrup (super difficult to weigh, sorry in advance)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 250g oats

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Scales
  • Teaspoon measure
  • Teaspoons (for portioning)
  • Wooden spoon or silicone spatula
  • Baking tray
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Spatula

Method

1) Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 (google it).

2) Mix the butter, sugar, golden syrup and egg whites in a bowl until thoroughly combined (it goes a light toffee colour).

3) Gradually add the flour and oats until fully combined (flour pockets in cookies are gross).

4) Line a baking tray and line up small balls of mixture down the tray, leaving room for spreading.

5) Bake for about 12 minutes, turning half way through.

6) Carefully transfer to a cooling rack (use a spatula) and cool until warm (not scalding) and enjoy (they’re just as good cold though).

Recipe 5: Mini chocolate chip cookies

@marjonuniCooking week: day 5: Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies ##recipes ##uk ##uni ##lockdown ##marjon ##upthejons ##cookies♬ original sound – marjonuni

These don’t have to be mini but the mixture goes a lot further if they are. This dough also keeps for a couple of days in the fridge if you want to keep making them fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter (again, stick not tub)
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 80g white caster sugar (using the two types of sugar creates the chewy centre and crispy edge)
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 225g plain flour
  • 200g chocolate chunks (I use a mix of milk and dark but feel free to use any combination you like. And to add more chunks if that’s how you like your cookies)

Equipment:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Scales
  • Teaspoon measure
  • Teaspoons (for portioning)
  • Wooden spoon or silicone spatula
  • Baking tray
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Chopping board and knife (if you’re chopping your own chocolate)
  • Spatula

Method

1) Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (google it).

2) Cream together the butter and both sugars (will go pale with minimal to no grains).

3) Add egg and vanilla and mix (add a spoonful of flower to prevent egg curdling if necessary).

4) Fold in the flour (I’m AWFUL at explaining folding in flour, so please google it if you’re unsure).

5) Chop up your chocolate (if necessary) and add it to the mix, folding until evenly through the mixture.

6) Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper and line up your cookies on the tray. I use about a tsp of mix for mini ones, but the size is up to you :))

7) Pop in the oven for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

8) Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool until warm (not scalding) and then enjoy (but they’re pretty good cold too).

Thank you to first year journalism student Georgia Large for these recipes and videos.

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