Home cooking

Easy meals to master at home

Ten easy meals that are ready to eat within 30 minutes. So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy some good food while you binge watch your favourite series.

Balanced meals are the cornerstone in looking after your health (both mentally and physically). So close just eat, fire up the oven and give one of our ten recipes a go. 

Veggie, vegan, or eco? No sweat, just replace the meat. Most of the recipes can be adapted to include more beans and pulses and less meat. Cannellini beans, lentils and chickpeas are all a great source of protein and are filling too. 

Let us know how your recipes went by tagging us @portsmouthsu on your social media.

A classic if ever there was one. It’s a well-known fact that pasta normally makes up a good deal of the student diet. But really good spag bol isn’t fast food, it’s good, tasty and easy to make. You can make a big batch and freeze portions to have easy meals to grab throughout the month. 

How do I make it? 
Peel and dice an onion and crush two cloves of garlic - if you don’t have fresh garlic, the easy stuff from a jar or garlic salt will work just fine. Fry them in a splash of oil until they’re soft and slightly translucent. Add 500g of mince, whichever meat or meat alternative you prefer, and cook until brown, then drain off the excess liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes, crumble in an oxo cube, a generous handful of sliced mushrooms and stir. Simmer (on a low heat) for 30 minutes and serve with cooked pasta. 

A few stops away from the Italian bolognese is it’s distant cousin, chilli con carne. Put it in a slow cooker and let it do the magic for you throughout the day, or create it in 30 minutes for a delicious meal. Also, if you’re feeling a little lazy (or thrifty) buy a ready-made spice mix, otherwise chilli powder, paprika and cumin will be good for the party in your saucepan. 

How do I make it? 
Peel and dice an onion, crush two cloves of garlic - if you don’t have fresh garlic, the easy stuff from a jar or garlic salt will work just fine - and fry in a splash of oil. Add 500g of mince (or meat alternative), fry until brown and drain off the excess liquid. Add two teaspoons (the small one) each of chilli powder, cumin and paprika along with 150ml of water, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of drained red kidney beans, a tin of drained sweetcorn and simmer for 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

A great recipe for a cold night to warm up with. This simple recipe is filling and easy to make, but if you feel like you’re missing out on some meat, throw in some stripped cooked chicken breast for the perfect carnivore accompaniment.  

How do I make it?
Chop one large onion, two celery sticks, two carrots and a handful of new potatoes into chunks and fry in a saucepan with crushed garlic and two tablespoons (the big one) of oil. Fry everything until it starts to soften and colour a little, then add salt and pepper to taste. Add a crumbled stock cube, a litre of water and 150g of long grain rice. Simmer for twenty minutes and then serve. 

So, cottage pie is only a cottage pie if you’re using beef mince. With lamb it’s a shepard’s pie and the vegetarian version is a greengrocer’s pie (stay with us). But whatever you call it, it’s a tasty treat that can be made for the whole house or split into portions to enjoy another night. 

How do I make it?
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, or gas mark 6. Peel, chop and boil three large potatoes until soft. Then drain and mash with butter, salt and pepper - don’t forget to taste your mash, that’s how you’ll know if you need to adjust the seasoning. Peel and chop an onion, fry in a splash of oil until soft. Then add 500g of mince and dry until brown. Drain off the liquid and add salt, pepper, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a crumbled oxo (though if you’re feeling lazy you can always pick up a spice mix) and a handful of frozen peas. Cook for a couple of minutes and then transfer into an ovenproof dish. Allow the mince to cool slightly and then spoon the mash on top, don’t worry about making it smooth. Now bake in the oven for 20 minutes. You can also serve with boiled green veg as a side. 

Stir fry is another student staple, easy and quick in the pan and on the plate. You can substitute the meat for another, or substitute with vegetables. It’s easy to adjust to your own tastes whether you prefer a good kick of spice or a more mellow meal. If you’re feeling lazy, you can get straight to wok noodles that you can add straight to the pan, but if you’ve already got noodles in the cupboard, just add them to some boiling water when you start cooking. 

How do I make it? 
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add 500g of mince, cook until brown. While the meat is cooking, add your noodles to a bowl or jug and boil the kettle, add the hot water and set aside for 5-10 minutes for the noodles to soften. Add a stir fry vegetable bag - or if you haven’t got one, slice half a bell pepper, carrot, a drained tin of sweetcorn and beansprouts - with a small piece of ginger (or one teaspoon of ginger paste), two crushed garlic cloves and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce and a tablespoon of water. Cook until the sauce coats everything and serve.

No seriously, don’t close the window. Whether you love or loathe pineapple on pizza, give this pasta dish a go. It’s as indulgent as a pizza and pasta, but takes less than half an hour to make and is far easier on your wallet. Give it a go, you’ll thank us later. 

How do I make it?
Now I’ve got you onboard, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 6. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook 250g of pasta according to the instructions. While your pasta is cooking, fry three slices of bacon in a separate pan and then once it’s cooked, chop roughly. Now chop three slices of thick sliced ham, adding that and a small can of pineapple chunks to the pan before cooking for 2-3 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the pan alongside a tin of chopped tomatoes and the bacon. Stir through a generous handful of shredded or grated mozzarella and then transfer into a large oven dish. Cook for 20 minutes and serve.  

It’s a mouthful, yes, but a tasty one. If you’re vegetarian, leave out the chorizo or go for a meat alternative version for an extra kick. 

How do I make it?
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, gas mark 5. Peel and chop an onion, one red pepper, one chilli and two cloves of garlic, then fry for 5 minutes. Add one chopped chorizo ring and fry for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, one teaspoon of cumin and one teaspoon of paprika. Add a can of chopped tomatoes and let simmer for a couple of minutes. With a spoon, create five separate wells big enough for a cracked egg (make sure that they’re not touching). Crack one egg into each indent. Sprinkle over a small handful of feta cheese. Now place the frying pan into the oven to cook for 20 minutes and then serve. 

Fancy a takeaway but worried about the wallet? We’ve got you covered, this curry recipe is easy to make, affordable and versatile. If you’re doing a vegetarian version there are plenty of alternatives you can use, like potatoes, butternut squash or chickpeas for some bulk. If you’d prefer a creamier curry though, swap out the balti paste for korma and the tinned tomatoes for coconut milk. 

How do I make it?
Peel and dice an onion and fry in a splash of oil. Add half a jar of curry paste and fry with the onion for a few minutes. Add 500g of diced chicken and/or vegetables and fry for five minutes. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and 200ml of vegetable stock, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and then cook for 20 minutes. Serve with rice, naan, or whichever side you prefer. 

A different type of curry to the traditional Indian one most of us know. But Thai curry is light, tasty and surprisingly easy to make with a jar of curry paste (don’t worry about making your own unless you’re feeling adventurous). If you’re after a vegetarian alternative, try using quartered new potatoes. 

How do I make it? 
Fry 500g of chicken breast in a splash of oil until brown (or if you’re using potatoes, par-boil). Add chopped vegetables (broccoli, green beans and baby corn work really well) and fry for a few minutes. Add a jar of curry paste, a tin of coconut milk, stir and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with noodles or rice. 

A people pleaser, for yourself or for large gatherings. All the cooking happens in one large pan, and you can use the microwave to soften your tortilla wraps. Plus you can get ready made seasoning packs or make your own, it’s really up to you. 

How do I make them?
Peel and slice an onion, deseed and slice a red and green pepper and fry until soft. Remove from the pan, then throw in 500g of thinly sliced chicken breast. Fry until browned, then add the onions and peppers. Sprinkle over one teaspoon each of chilli powder, cumin, paprika and garlic powder. Add a tablespoon of water and fry until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with wraps, sour cream, olives, grated cheese and salad leaves (or whatever sides you prefer). It’s the perfect party food. 


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