Cooking: Recipes on a student budget

Many students have never cooked a meal in their life before they get to uni. Cooking food from scratch and on budget is often daunting and most students resort to unhealthy microwave meals. But there is help at hand! There are loads of student cookbooks available to help you.

Below you will find some videos of recipes from UJS and the Jewish Princesses (you can also see their YouTube channel here).
Below are three quick and easy recipes courtesy of Amanda Popeck’s The Cooking Club that anyone can make from a few basic ingredients. They can be prepared in a hurry or in advance so that when you come back to your halls you will know that something tasty is waiting for you. For more information contact or call 07976 275013.

Recipe 1: Quick and easy rich tomato soup - Serves 4

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp oil from Sunblush tomatoes
  • ½ small jar of sundried tomato paste
  • 2 large cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
  • 10-12 Sunblush tomatoes drained and roughly chopped
  • 3 x 400g cans of good quality plum tomatoes
  • 500ml of vegetable stock (made from boiled water and 2-3 desert spoons of Telma or Osem parev soup powder)
  • Sugar to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
  • 142ml pot of soured cream or crème fraiche
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar to taste - optional
  • Plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper.


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent, but not brown – be careful not to burn at this stage or it will taste bitter.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes, Sunblush tomatoes and tomato paste, stock, sugar, seasoning and chopped basil leaves and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Whizz with a blender gradually adding half the cream as you go.
  5. Adjust the seasoning adding more sugar as necessary – tinned tomatoes
  6. can be quite acidic so the sugar can balance this nicely.
  7. Serve in a bowl and add a swirl of basil pesto if liked, a little dollop of sour cream and a scattering of fresh basil.
  8. Serve with nice hot crusty bread.

Final notes

This soup is great for a quick lunch in between lectures or as a starter before dinner. If using before a meaty meal, obviously leave out the soured cream or crème fraiche and just add a bit more stock to make the soup not quite so thick. You may need a little more sugar too to balance the flavours.

Recipe 2: Tasty one-pot chicken, potato and herb bake - Serves 2

  • 4-6 skinless, boned chicken thighs (often sold in a pack)
  • 10-12 Sunblush tomatoes in herbed olive oil (can use sundried too)
  • 10-12 black olives (can be tinned or in flavored oil – which are nicer)
  • 3-4 teaspoonfuls of sundried tomato paste
  • Small jar of tomato and herb pasta sauce
  • 1 medium onion peeled
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 6-8 small new potatoes – washed but not peeled
  • Some fresh basil, thyme and rosemary or packet of mixed dried herbs
  • Set oven to about 200°C or gas mark 7.


  1. Wash the chicken thighs and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Place one piece of sundried tomato and one olive inside each thigh and roll up again.
  3. Place all the thighs side by side in a baking or roasting pan, lined with foil (to save on washing up). Season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cut the onion in half and then slice each half into four thick slices lengthways.
  5. Push these slices in between the thighs too.
  6. Slice the garlic cloves finely and also push in between the chicken pieces.
  7. Cut the small potatoes in half and again scatter between the other ingredients in the pan.
  8. Sprinkle with some of the fresh or dried herbs and add the black olives.
  9. Pour over the sauce and add some dollops of sundried tomato paste.
  10. Pour just a little of the flavored olive oil over the top of the dish.
  11. Put the roasting dish in the oven and cook for around 45 minutes-1 hour.
  12. Check from time to time and if it is getting too burnt on top, cover with foil, but you want the potatoes to get nice and brown. You can add a little splash of water if the sauce looks too thick.
Final notes

You can serve this dish with some freshly cooked pasta or rice if you want, but as it contains potatoes all it really needs is some green vegetables like broccoli or mange tout or a salad – and that’s dinner sorted! This dish freezes really well so you can eat half and freeze the rest for another meal – if it lasts that long.

Recipe 3: Really easy stand-by chocolate puff pastry dessert

  • 125g (4½ oz) luxury Belgian plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg beaten for glazing
  • Handful of chopped pecans or almonds (optional)
  • Sprinkle of Demerara sugar
  • Vanilla parev or dairy ice-cream and icing sugar to serve.


  1. Set your oven to 200°C (gas mark 6).
  2. Dust your worktop surface with a little flour and lay out pastry.
  3. Cut out discs to desired size – using a small plate or saucer is good.
  4. Place half the discs on a baking sheet covered with silicon paper.
  5. Sprinkle over equal amounts of chocolate and nuts if used on each disc leaving a border of about 1cm.
  6. Brush the rim with a little beaten egg.
  7. Top with other disc of pastry and press down the edges well to seal.
  8. If you are feeling really artistic you can make a fluted edge with one of your knuckles.
  9. Make a small slit in the middle of the top layer to let out the steam and sprinkle with a little Demerara sugar.
  10. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve with scoop of ice cream.