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Common ready-meals that are super quick (and cheaper) to make yourself

By Julia Molloy
Common ready-meals that are super quick (and cheaper) to make yourself

That age-old assumption that students can’t or won’t cook simply shouldn’t be true anymore. We all know the health issues concerning ready meals, and the horsemeat scandal is surely enough to put anyone off buying ready-made Spag-Bol.

Even if you’re a novice cook, however, these five simple meals can be tackled at lightning speed and without eating into your overdraft (no pun intended)!

Spaghetti Bolognese

Making your own Bolognese is easier and significantly cheaper than buying a ready meal. All you need to do is fry some onion and mince in a little oil, then add a Bolognese sauce that you can buy from your local supermarket. Serve with spaghetti and there you have it.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not give making your own sauce a go? Check out this Jamie Oliver recipe to get started.


Instead of getting a takeaway full of stodgy saturated fat, try cooking up your own. Supermarkets sell all manner of curry pastes these days, meaning that you can choose exactly how much heat you want and what meat and vegetables you want to have.

My personal favourite is a green Thai curry. Simply seal a chicken breast cut into pieces in a frying pan and add some mushrooms. Add the curry paste according to pack instructions and add around 100ml of coconut milk per person. Thicken the sauce with a couple of teaspoons of corn flour dissolved in water and simmer until the meat is cooked through. Serve with rice.

Stir Fry

Gone are the days of Pot Noodle – no student should be without the ability to make a good stir fry! This versatile dish lets you pack in as much as veg as you want into a single dish, as well as your choice of meat.

A tasty sauce can easily be created by mixing light soy sauce, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, honey, and olive oil together, with some water to loosen it a bit. Simply fry everything for 3 minutes (fry meat a little longer), add the sauce and serve with noodles or rice.


Casseroles come in all shapes and sizes, and even though they take slightly longer to cook than your average ready meal, it’s so easy and tasty that it’s worth the extra wait. Once you’ve browned the onion and meat, put all your ingredients into a casserole dish, add plenty of stock and seasoning, then bung it in the oven.

If you’re looking for a different take on this staple, why not have a look at this recipe for a sausage and bean casserole? Everything is cooked on the hob, and there are plenty of spices that will keep your taste buds satisfied.

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza might be a big event at my house, but it’s something that you can easily recreate on your own – and it’ll taste much nicer and fresher than bought ones!

Pizza bases are readily available at the supermarket, and the sauce is made from store-cupboard ingredients: tin tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and seasoning. Add your choice of toppings to the pizza and put in the oven.

You can also make the sauce in large batches and freeze it in portions to save time later, or you could serve it with pasta if you want to mix things up.

Now that you’re armed with these basic recipes, your flatmates will be begging you to cook for them! Have you got more tips on cheap and easy-to-make dishes?

Share them by commenting below or tweet a few photos!

Julia Molloy is a student at Lancaster University who enjoys cooking for her flatmates. She recommends the GKBC Academy.

Tagged: university, tips, students, new, health, free, cooking, cheap

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