Student Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas

Cooking at home (instead of relying on takeaways all the time) is a great way for students to save money and eat healthier food as well. Here are some budget-friendly recipes for inspiration.

As a student it can be tempting to just stick to takeaways and Tesco meal deals for your meals, however, the costs of takeaways and eating out can all add up and end up being seriously expensive! Besides from the cost of eating takeaways regularly, this also not a very healthy way to live. That’s why it’s a good idea to make your own meals with food you buy from the shop.

If you’re not much of a cooking expert then don’t worry, in this guide, we’ve prepared some meal ideas that are both easy to make and are budget friendly!

Budgeting at university

Budgeting can be a challenge whilst at university and we have already provided some useful tips to help with this in a previous blog post.

For the majority of students, there won’t be a lot of income to cover all the necessities, so it’s important to know how to make your money last.

Students will have a lot of necessary expenses to deal with, such as utility bills and rent as well as course related purchases like books and stationary. All of this needs to be considered as well as the cost of things such as nights out and other leisure-related activities such as trips to the cinema.

One way for a university student to make their money go further is to be proactive when it comes to cooking at home. Eating out all the time can be really expensive, which is why being able to make your own meals can be a great way of saving money and allow you to save for other activities.

It’s important to stay well fed whilst at university to ensure you have enough energy for your studies. Take a look at some of our meal ideas for how you can ensure you stay well fed on a budget.

Mac ‘n’ cheese

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Macaroni – 300g
  • Semi skimmed milk – 700ml
  • Soft cheese – 100g
  • Grated mature cheddar – 200g
  • Emmental – 100g
  • Grated parmesan – 50g

To make mac ‘n’ cheese, start by pouring the milk into a pan and bringing it to simmer. Next, add the macaroni and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the pasta is almost cooked. Then, add in the soft cheese and the grated cheeses and stir until it’s all melted. You can then add any seasoning you wish or other ingredients such as salsa or bacon. It really is as simple as that! An absolute staple for a lot of students, mac ‘n’ cheese is a classic meal that can be eaten at any time of day (or night!)

Cheese omelette

Cheese omelette

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • Cheddar cheese – 10g
  • Large free-range eggs – 2
  • Olive oil

Omelettes are incredibly easy to make and are a good meal option for any time of the day. First, crack the two large eggs into a mixing bowl and add in salt and pepper or any seasoning you want. Beat the eggs with a fork until fully combined. Add ½ a tablespoon of oil to a pan and heat up before adding in the beaten eggs. Once the omelette starts to cook, add the cheese on top and continue to cook until the underneath is golden brown.

Pork stir fry noodles

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Egg noodles – 100g
  • Pork strips – 300g
  • Cornflour – 1 tablespoon
  • Spring onions – 4, shredded
  • Beansprouts – 50g
  • Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons
  • Chilli sauce – 2 tablespoons

Start by chopping up the spring onions and any other vegetables you will be adding to the stir fry. Next add some oil to a frying pan or wok and ensure you cook the noodles well. Add in the chopped-up vegetables and add in the beansprouts. Finally, add in the pork along with the sauces and toss until everything is cooked. Remember, you can always add in other ingredients to spice up your stir fry or replace the pork with a vegan alternative.

Roasted aubergine & tomato curry

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Baby aubergines – 600g
  • Can of chopped tomatoes – 400ml
  • Onions – 2
  • Garlic cloves – 2
  • Coconut milk – 400ml
  • Coriander – ½ a small pack
  • Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  • Rice

Aubergine & tomato curry is a vegan friendly meal option that is simple to make and delicious to eat! Start by seasoning the aubergines, adding a bit of oil and roasting them for 20 minutes until they are dark golden and soft. Next, chop the onions and add them to an oiled pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes and add the garlic and other spices. Then, add in the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and aubergines and bring them to simmer. Let them simmer for around 20 minutes before adding any final seasoning. Serve with rice or naan and enjoy a delicious home-made curry!

Margherita pizza

Homemade pizza

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Plain flour – 200g
  • Packet easy-blend dried yeast – 7g
  • Mozzarella – 100g
  • Passata – 85ml
  • Grated parmesan – 2 tablespoons
  • Basil – a handful

Who doesn’t love pizza? With this simple recipe, you can make your own homemade pizza – which is cheap and easy to do! First, mix the flour and yeast in a bowl and add in ¼ teaspoon of salt and a full teaspoon of sugar. Add in 125ml of warm water and stir until the mixture is smooth. Knead the mixture until it becomes doughy and press into an oiled tray. Next, spread the passata over the dough and add the basil, seasoning and the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked and enjoy your pizza!

Spaghetti carbonara

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • Spaghetti – 300g
  • Parmesan – 50g
  • Eggs – 3
  • Bacon lardons – 1 pack (optional)
  • Cherry tomatoes – half a pack
  • Garlic cloves – 2

Carbonara is another classic meal that is a really easy and quick dish to make. First, add half of your tomatoes and a crushed garlic clove into a baking tray with some olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes before adding in the rest of the tomatoes and then roast for an additional 5 minutes. Whilst roasting this, boil the spaghetti so it is ready at the same time. If you’re adding bacon, fry it in a pan until it turns golden and crispy. Slice the remaining garlic clove and add it into the frying pan along with the eggs and cheese. Next, fry the spaghetti, egg mixture and bacon all together in a frying pan. Add the remaining tomatoes and the roasted juices from the tray to finish off.

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Spaghetti carbonara