5 Recipes For Real Students

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

When I left for university I was gifted approximately 7 ‘student cookbooks’ (this isn’t hate against the people who gave me them, I am very thankful for any gifts I receive). They all said the same thing: cooking whilst at uni is key to saving money, socialising, and gaining skills in the kitchen. As a third-year student, I would agree to all of the above. However, these recipe books are jam packed full of unrealistic recipes. From quiche Lorraine to fancy vegan lasagnes, you are never going to cook any of this after you discover pesto pasta. Instead, I wanted to write a post with real recipes I use on a regular basis as a student!

1. Jambalaya

- This is the queen of cheap and easy meals. I wish I made this more in my early years because it is the perfect use-up dinner. It’s ideal for those nights when you are tempted to shove chicken nuggets and wedges into the oven as the preparation time is so small. Bypass your freezer and cook and quick, healthy, and tasty meal in minutes! 10/10 from me

Prep time: 5 mins max

Cooking time: 35-40 mins


- Rice

- Peppers

- Onions

- Paprika

- Stock cube (veg or chicken)

- Optional- Chorizo (or a vegan alternative)


- Brown off onions and peppers

- Fry chorizo (or alternative) for a short period of time

- Boil water, put stock cube in, mix until it disintegrates, pour into pan with rice

- Tip in ingredients from frying pan

- Put a lot of paprika in

- Leave to boil/simmer for 35-40 minutes (or until water disappears)

2. Pesto Pasta

- It would hardly be a student meal guide without mentioning the queen of dinners, pesto pasta. Without pesto pasta, I would be 20lbs lighter, but also sadder. This glorious combination brings joy to student houses up and down the nation, and deservedly so, it’s incredible. A jar of pesto is dirt cheap at any supermarket and you can do anything with it. This is my official pesto pasta recipe; however, you can add or take away anything to it if you feel like changing it up, I won’t be offended.

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins


- Pasta

- Pesto

- Onions

- Chicken (or alternative)

- Bacon (or alternative)

- Spinach

- Mushrooms

- Pepper

- Oregano

- Garlic


- Pop pasta in water to boil

- Fry chicken and bacon

- Brown off onions then add in mushrooms and peppers (finely chopped)- add oregano and garlic whilst frying

- Drain pasta then add all cooked ingredients to pot

- Add 2 table spoons of pesto

- Mix together until everything is coated with pesto

3. Bangers and mash

- When I think of holy meals, this comes to mind. It takes slightly more work, as there are multiple timing situations going on, but it’s still super easy. This is the basic recipe but you can do so much more to it: add some broccoli or carrots on the side, maybe add a cheeky Yorkshire pudding, or even make an onion gravy. No matter what you do, this meal is glorious.

Prep time: 5 mins max

Cooking time: 30 mins


- Sausages (or veggie alternative)

- Gravy granules

- Baby potatoes

- Milk

- Butter


- Set oven to 180 degrees

- Peel and chop potatoes in half

- Fill pan with water, set to boil and pour potatoes in

- Put sausages in roasting dish and put in oven for 15-20 mins

- Boil water in measuring jug and mix gravy granules in

- Pour gravy into roasting tin and cook with sausages for 5-10 mins

- Drain potatoes once soft

- Mash potatoes with small amounts of milk and butter (just enough to make it smooth)

4. Pizza Quesadillas

- Fun fact about me: I love a wrap. Wraps are incredible, literally anything and everything goes on a wrap. I discovered this recipe last year and concluded that it is THE meal. For lunch it’s good on its own, however some cheeky wedges and salad are the perfect accompaniment for a dinner.

Prep time: 30 seconds

Cooking time: 5-10 mins


- Wraps

- Tinned tomatoes

- Mozzarella (however much you want)

- Oregano

- Garlic


- Break up tinned tomatoes in heated pan until smooth, add oregano and garlic

- Pour tomatoes over half of wrap and add some chopped mozzarella

- Cover side with food by the dry side of the wrap and put in frying pan, regularly turning until cheese is fully melted

5. Macaroni Cheese

- A staple student experience, you can never go wrong with macaroni cheese. A white sauce often scares off a lot of people as it’s easy to get wrong, the key is to never stop whisking (even when you think it’s okay). This is a basic macaroni cheese recipe, I also enjoy adding some veggies or meat if I’m feeling adventurous. A favourite of mine is adding chicken and leaks, mushrooms are also a good addition.

Prep Time: 2 mins

Cooking time: 20-25 mins


- 1 Cup of milk (I use US measurements)

- Tablespoon of butter

- 2 tablespoons of flour

- Cheese

- Macaroni


- Boil water and put macaroni in pan to cook

- Melt butter

- Add the flour and milk (gradually) whilst whisking until there are no bumps

- Leave to boil then simmer- constantly whisk so it doesn’t become lumpy

- Add cheese

- Drain and add pasta to sauce

- Optional: put into roasting tray and put cheese on top, grill for 10 mins max

I’m not saying that I am against a cheeky frozen chicken piece, but cooking is a great social and life skill to learn whilst at university. Meal planning, prepping, and budgeting are great ways to stay organised. I hope this article proved that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and precise, some of these recipes take minutes and are delicious!

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