Student life can be hectic, and it can sometimes feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cook healthy meals from scratch.
I’m a firm believer that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be all fancy and time-consuming. It’s all about a balance of eating nutritiously, but also on a budget (which applies to both money and time!)
Don’t get me wrong, challenging yourself and cooking something a bit extra is great but for a busy student, not necessarily sustainable.
Here are 5 of my all-time favourite Uni-life meals:
The great thing about a stir fries is that you can put pretty much anything in them, so they’re a perfect option for all that leftover veg hanging about in the fridge.
To make a stir fry nice and balanced without too much effort, I try to incorporate a good protein source (for me this would usually be Quorn Pieces, tofu, beans or even cheese) and plenty of veg, and serve it up with a carb like rice or noodles.
I actually shied away from stir fries for a while because whenever I made them they were kind of bland, and making a sauce seemed like too much effort. However, I recently discovered stir fry sauce packets which are like 50p for supermarkets own (one packet is enough for 2 stir fries). They are life-changing and can turn a pretty boring meal into something amazing in literally 30 seconds…sweet and sour is my absolute fave!
I’ve seen a few versions of this recipe banded about so I think it’s quite a popular dish, but it’s super deserving of that reputation! This is one of my favourite staple meals, and chickpeas are a great source of veggie/vegan protein, so it really is an absolute winner.
To make it, all you need is a red pepper, a tin of chickpeas, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a red onion. Fry the red onion and sliced pepper in olive oil (or whatever you want to use). Once they’ve been frying a few minutes, add the drained chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and simmer until everything is cooked! It honestly could not be easier, and this will make 2-3 portions, so you’re sorted for a few days. I usually serve this with pasta but it’s actually decent with rice as well.
Sandwich (Yes, really)
I know you’re probably thinking this is the most boring/obvious thing ever, but the humble sandwich has a lot more to offer than you might think. The combo possibilities are endless! Stick with the same principle as the stir fry – make sure your sandwich includes protein (think meat, egg, falafel) and veggies (or salad).
I’ve recently discovered Quorn chicken/ham slices and they’re amazing! Meat substitutes are getting so much better and tasting more and more like the real thing. Quorn’s bacon rashers are also amazing for a hot sandwich.
Switching up your bread can also make things more interesting – try a wrap or bagel for a change; you might be surprised as to what a difference it makes.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing more comforting than spag bol, is there? What’s even better is that this all-time favourite of mine is super easy, and pretty cheap to make. I’m going to talk through the vegetarian version because that’s what I make myself, but it’s easy enough to substitute in meat.
All you need is a tin of chopped tomatoes, some Quorn Mince, a red onion, a handful of mushrooms, a carrot and some spinach to make 2-3 portions. Fry your onion and carrot for a few minutes in some olive oil before adding the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have pretty much cooked, slosh in your chopped tomatoes and mince, add some basil if you’re feeling fancy and let everything simmer for a while. When the mince is piping hot, add the spinach and once it’s wilted you’re done (I always forget this step)! I like to serve my Bolognese with tagliatelle, but go for whatever floats your boat.
This is something I literally threw together once using random leftovers in my fridge and ended up creating something incredible (if I do say so myself). This is great if you want something nice and light, but also satisfying and surprisingly filling.
It’s also the world’s easiest thing to put together. Halloumi and olives are your main ingredients and the salad can be anything you want, although I like to use spinach, tomato, cucumber and spring onion.
Just chop up all your salad, fry 75g (a big chunk, basically) of halloumi, and chop in half 10 black olives. Just use olives from a jar, they taste just the same and are way cheaper than the ones you get in the fridge section (and last longer). Then you basically just chuck it all on a plate and you’re done. Told you it was simple.
I love this salad so much because I really like salty food, but I will warn you that if salt isn’t your thing, the halloumi and olive combo probably isn’t going to do much for you.
So there we have it! 5 easy-peasy meals that even the busiest of students can rustle up. Let me know if you try any of them, and please send me your own Uni favourites – I’m always looking for new meal inspo!