3 quick and easy meal ideas on a student budget

We understand that student budgets can be tight. That’s why Almero Student accommodation is truly all-inclusive, so you have a fixed cost which covers absolutely everything (even including television license). University is often the first time you’ll be managing your own budget, and the food shop can be surprisingly expensive, especially when cooking for the first time.

We’ve rounded up 3 of our favourite wallet-friendly dishes, which you can enjoy cooking in your student accommodation alone or for friends! The kitchen is often the heart of the home and getting comfortable feeding yourself and others is a great way to transform your home into your new natural habitat!

Lentil dahl sounds fancy but is super simple!

Image credit: simple-veganista.com

Batch cooking, or meal prep, is your budget friend. Why not cook a big portion of affordable, filling and nutritious dish, then freeze individual portions for an easy lunch? You could supplement with a side hummus, served with fresh veg batons, naan or pitta bread.

  • Per portion, cook 75g red lentils in 500ml of water with 1 peeled garlic clove for 20 minutes.

  • Remove the garlic clove, crush it, then stir it into the lentils with a knob of butter.

  • Season well, and simmer until thick.

  • Place 2 chopped carrots in a pan with enough water to cover, then simmer for 8-10 minutes until tender.

  • Drain, return to pan and toss with 1 tbsp of rapeseed, olive, coconut or vegetable oil and ½ tsp of garam masala. Tip this mixture into a hot frying pan.

  • Stir over heat until carrots brown slightly.

  • Spoon your lentils into a bowl, top with the carrots and an extra sprinkle of garam masala and a spoon of Greek yoghurt.

  • Freeze additional portions without yoghurt and add this once microwaved ready to eat!

Sweet potato offers a nutritious twist on a comfort classic

Image credit: bbcgoodfood.com

Before you reach for the warm hug of a baked potato, swap the standard for sweet! These orange fleshed beauties are full of nutrients and vitamins, offering a burst of energy without the starchy carbs of a white potato.

  • Heat oven to 200/180 fan. When hot, prick sweet potato with a sharp knife or skewer (so they don’t explode!) and bake for +/- 45 mins. Cooking time with vary by size, but you’re looking for it to be soft when squeezed!

  • Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the oven and leave them to crisp.

  • Heat 2 tbsp of any oil in a pan, add ½ a finely chopped onion and 1 crushed garlic close for 1 minute.

  • Add a small grated knob of ginger (full of flavour and very cheap!), and 1 tablespoon of curry paste (thai works well, but so does madras – have a look at what’s on offer!).

  • After another minute, add a knob of butter and a big handful of spinach. Stir until all wilted, then serve inside your sweet potato.

Nigella Lawson’s ultimate 10 minute dish

Image credit: Nigella.com

Looking for an indulgence which won’t make you feel gross? Need something which will instantly give that full and warm feeling? Look no further than the queen of taste’s divisive pasta dish…

  • Cook 100g spaghetti per person according to pack instructions, remembering to heavily salt the water.

  • Towards the end of pasta cooking time, (for one portion) melt 20g of unsalted butter in a small saucepan.

  • Once melted, add 1 tsp of Marmite (or Vegemite) and 1 tbsp of pasta cooking water to the butter. Mix until dissolved and combined.

  • Drain your spaghetti, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water by pouring it over a mug in the sink.

  • Return spaghetti to the cooking pan, and add the sauce mixture, stirring over a low heat. Add a splash of your reserved cooking water to combine, a little at a time to prevent it becoming too sloppy.

  • Serve with grated Grana Padano (a delicious and cheaper alternative to Parmesan!)

With one for the freezer, one to enjoy with friends, and one for when you’ve forgotten to schedule time for cooking we hope to have covered all bases here! Remember to keep a note of recipes you’ve made and loved, whether that’s an old school scrapbook or an online bookmark folder. Enjoy cooking in your student accommodation, making and eating food can really help housing to feel like home.