Best student recipes: quick and easy meal ideas for university

Heading off to university for the first time? Kick-start the new term with a first-class repertoire of recipes

one pan roast dinner
From speedy noodles to one-pan roast dinners Credit: Haarala Hamilton

This month, under normal circumstances, hundreds of thousands of young adults around the country would be arriving at their university accommodation, armed with a few posters and a box of Ikea saucepans optimistically given by parents hoping they might inspire something a little more wholesome for dinner than toast.

The pandemic has changed the way in which everything operates this year, including freshers’ week. In a survey conducted by Universities UK, 87 per cent of universities planned to provide face-to-face teaching, as well as sporting and wellbeing activities. But with many freshers’ events taking place in a virtual capacity, “bubbles” of students living and studying together, and drastically reduced class sizes, the set-up will look very different to anything uni-goers have experienced before.

There is one constant, however; the need to cook and look after oneself. Nailing a few basic recipes not only gives a strong sense of satisfaction and will undoubtedly be better brain food than Pot Noodles, but it’s also a great way to integrate yourself into a new friendship (and coronavirus) bubble.

Start simple with a curry, noodle dish, roast dinner and kebab (all certified student favourites), and see where you go from there. You may find that those Ikea saucepans come in mighty handy after all.

Essential reading list

The best cookbooks to give new students

Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson (Chatto and Windus, £26)

Save Nigella’s How to Eat for a 21st-birthday present; Express is far more user-friendly, with speedy suppers and genius desserts. Cooking from it is the best way to ensure harmony among housemates.

The Art fof the Larder by Claire Thomson (Quadrille, £25)

This book is a saviour for those with limited fridge space; its pages focus on meals made from store-cupboard stalwarts such as chickpeas, rice, polenta and spices.

One Pound Meals by Miguel Barclay (Headline, £16,99)

Barclay’s debut book does exactly what it says on the tin; quick, easy dishes at £1 per portion. Indispensable for budget-friendly dinner parties as well as everyday meals.

Solo by Signe Johansen (Bluebird, £16.99)

Inspired toast-toppers, single-serve pasta dishes and a few sweet treats make this the perfect little book for those opting for studio flats.

Eat by Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate, £26)

Slater is renowned for his ability to create beautiful plates of food from a handful of ingredients; Eat is packed with more than 600 of them, and will inspire cooks for life.