15 Essential Meals You Need To Try

Up and down the country freshers just like you are moving into halls of residence, uni flats and shared houses, and getting very darn excited – as well they should. Just one question though – what the heck are you going to eat?

Some of you will have chosen catered halls, but what about you lot checking into non-catered flats and houses? Well, you might think you’re fine, but Pot Noodles will start to lose their appeal after the first fortnight, trust us.

So what then? Well, there’s no need to fear because Whatuni is here, coming to your culinary rescue with a selection of essential student recipes that are quick, cheap and easy to make. And tasty, obviously.

You’re going to want to try these…

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

That’s spaghetti with garlic and oil, to you and me. This simple dish has been an Italian staple for years, and who are we to argue with the people who invented pizza, pasta and pretty much everything else that’s great about the world of food?

As well as being super delicious and super cheap, spaghetti with oil is also supremely easy to make. Just boil your spaghetti in a saucepan, drain, and toss in a bowl with olive oil and chopped cooked garlic until evenly coated.

Top with a shake of dried basil or mixed herbs, or – for a kick of spice – chilli flakes. To take it to the next level, add some grated cheese and blast in the microwave to melt it.

Naan Bread Pizzas

Dominos has come to the rescue of many a hungry student before, but you should really try making your own. Our pizza recipe comes with a twist – instead of going to all the time and effort of making your own dough, you can use a naan bread instead!

Simply spread a naan with tomato sauce (the kind out of a jar, not Heinz), sprinkle over grated cheese – or mozzarella for a more authentic experience – and add the topping of your choice. Then pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and you’re done!

Ironed Cheese And Ham Toastie

When it comes to classic comfort food, there’s not much that can beat the humble cheese and ham toastie. If you haven’t got a sandwich toaster or a grill though, don’t worry, because you can try this ingenious toastie hack instead…

Simply make a regular cheese and ham sandwich, then wrap it in tin foil, place on top of an ironing board or sturdy text book and press lightly on each side with a hot iron. Presto chango – your sandwich is now a toastie!


Rice is a student staple – at least one of your hallmates is sure to arrive with a big enough bag to last the whole year. They always do. You don’t have to just have boring boiled rice to keep to your budget, though – not when you could be having yummy risotto instead.

You can combine rice with almost anything to make risotto, from peas and green beans for a colourful summer dish to mushrooms or – if you’re feeling extravagant – chicken or even prawns. Or you can just keep it simple and go for plain risotto, with a pinch of parmesan cheese.

Beery Chips

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everything can be made better with beer. So next time you’re cleaning up the morning after the night before (and let’s face it, that’s going to be quite often) don’t throw out those half drunk bottles of beer – use them to pep up your chips instead.

Slice a potato into chips, soak them in a bowl of beer for 15 – 20 minutes, then cook in the oven on a baking tray until golden. 

Home Made Burgers

The student’s desire for junk food is a strong one, but you can’t pop out to Burger King every time the urge strikes. Frozen burgers can be of questionable quality when it to comes to the budget brands, but thankfully it’s just as cheap and easy to make your own at home.

Minced beef is the most affordable kind of meat, and it’s often on the reduced counter at the end of the day to boot. So grab yourself a pack of fresh mince, mould into burger patty shapes (adding some chopped onion for good measure is a popular option) and pop under the grill into the smell becomes irresistible.

Serve in a bun with a slice of Dairylea, and beery chips. Click here for a recipe.

French Onion Soup

Ooh la la! Time for another recipe that sounds like it should be hard and is actually anything but. Onions are uber cheap and four will make a good couple of servings of this tasty, filling soup. Simply chop and fry your onions and leave them simmering in vegetable stock (about 80p for ten cubes) for 20 minutes, then stir and serve.

For additional French sophistication, add a glug of leftover white wine and top with melted cheese and croutons. Click here for a recipe.

Potato Pan Fry

This dish takes you back to the continent, this time via Spain and some traditional tapas. Potato pan fry is a rustic dish once favoured by peasants (making it perfect for budget conscious students). Even better, it utilises ingredients you should by now already have in the cupboard: potatoes, onions and vegetable stock.

Cut potatoes into rounds and fry in a pan with some butter, adding onions (red or white will do) and, if you like, some peppers too. Simmer in vegetable stock for 20 minutes and serve straight away. It’s basically the ultimate winter comfort food. Click here for a recipe.


Just like your mum used to make, an omelette is a quick and easy meal and – best of all – a one or two egg omelette can be made for the price of… well, one or two eggs. Just whisk your eggs together with a bit of water and a pinch of salt to taste.

Pour the mixture into a hot frying pan, then once it’s nearly solid fold it in half to form the classic omelette shape. The best thing about omelettes is you can add pretty much any extra ingredients you want. You could try mixing in some cheese (can you tell we like cheese here at Whatuni?), ham, mushrooms, tomatoes – the possibilities are endless!

Microwave Cake in A Mug

If you have a sweet tooth don’t despair, we wouldn’t leave you without a cake to finish. Plus you can make this one in a mug! Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and chocolate powder with an egg and a little oil, pour into a mug and cook on high in the microwave for two minutes. You’re welcome.

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