Student – How to eat cheaply!

I know better than anyone what it feels like to be a broke student. The amount of times I’ve hit the bottom of my overdraft is quite scary. Then the student loan comes in, and I think I’m rich – for about two weeks.

If you’re on this website, it’s probably because you’re looking for a new recipe to try out,  or you’re interested in how companies in your area give back to their communities. This article won’t help you with either of those things. However, if you’re looking for help on making delicious food with a small budget, you have come to the right place.

Let’s start with the obvious. Ready meals are not cheap. Even if they’re frozen! The price says 3 for £6 at ASDA so you think, what a bargain! But the portions are small, and that’s only going to last you three dinners! Also, if we’re being honest, cheap ready meals from ASDA do not taste good and definitely aren’t good for you, no matter what they put on the label. The salt and preservatives stuffed into one of them almost gives me a heart attack by looking at it, and I haven’t taken a bite yet! That’s not to say I’ve never eaten one. In my first year of uni I had more ready meals than I could count on four, maybe five hands! And how did I feel after eating them? Gross, undernourished and hungry! Ready meals are the easiest things to cook. It’d be pretty hard to do it wrong, but is it worth it?

As long as you have the basics in your fridge and cupboards, you can make a nutritious and delicious meal for just as cheap as a ready meal. When I say the basics, I’m talking flour, salt, pepper, stock cubes, garlic and tomato puree and milk etc. These are the basics for a lot of meals! The initial cost will be slightly higher to buy these items, but as soon as you have them they should last you a long time! I’m still on the same bag of flour I bought in September!

Soon, you’ll find that your weekly shop really goes down in price. Have a look at some of the recipes on this website for some cheap, and easy meals with bare minimum ingredients. Some that I would recommend would be Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chicken Curry and Lasagne. Imagine being able to say that you can cook these dishes from scratch! It’s a lot easier than it sounds, trust me.

Chicken & Mushroom Curry – Quick & Easy to Make

Chicken and Mushroom Curry is a quick and easy dish to make.  It is a favourite of my daughters’ and made in one pan – so less washing up!  It’s delicious served with rice and/or poppadoms and mango chutney.  I use brown rice because I prefer it, but it can be served with long grain rice or even pasta.

chicken and mushroom curry served with brown rice and mango chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 Small Chopped Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Chicken Oxo Cube
  • 60g Raisins
  • 1 dsp Jam
  • Seasoning
  • 2 Raw Diced Chicken Breast
  • 120g Chopped Mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 300ml Milk
  • 300ml Water
  • 200g Brown Rice

ingredients for chicken and mushroom curry

Method

1  Place the oil in a pan over a moderately high temperature, & when hot, add the chopped onion, garlic, tomato puree, oxo cube, raisins & jam.

cooking a chicken curry 1

2  After 2 minutes, add the diced chicken breast & cook until the chicken shows no sign of pink flesh.

3  Add the mushrooms.

4  Stir in the plain flour.

cooking a chicken curry 2

5  Add the milk & water, stirring well.

6  Simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

cooking a chicken curry 3

7  In a separate saucepan boil a litre of water. Add the rice & continue to cook for 20 minutes & then drain.

This recipe for Chicken & Mushroom Curry serves two, so is simple to adapt for a single person or a family.  As both my daughters are students, I often make the curry in bulk and freeze it in individual portions for them to reheat at university. Having said that, they often use this recipe (sometimes adapting it to use the ingredients they have) and make chicken curry themselves.

For an even simpler recipe for chicken curry for one, click here

Christmas Buffet – liven up your buffet table

A Christmas Buffet should look colourful and appetising. Whenever I plan a buffet I recall the adage “you eat with your eyes first” and try to make sure that the food is presented in an eye catching manner. I also experiment and try at least one new dish to keep my buffet exciting. Although mince pies are delicious how many of us get fed up with them before Christmas Day is here? I prefer to exclude the classic Christmas dishes from my buffets.  Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is a variety of foods – so not too much bread or pastry. Here are a few items taken from my latest Christmas buffet.

Christmas Fruit Tree

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Camembert – Pan Fried to set your Taste Buds Watering

Camembert is a delicious soft and creamy cheese. It was first made in the late eighteenth century in Camembert, Normandy – hence its name! When camembert is fried in breadcrumbs the exterior is crispy, but when you cut into it the middle oozes out onto your plate. It is an easy dish to make as a starter that’s guaranteed to please your guests – just serve with redcurrant sauce and a small side salad. I must confess to sometimes serving pan fried camembert as a main course for my family, I simply increase the amount of salad and serve with fresh crusty bread.  Here’s how I make the dish for two people.

pan fried camembert served with redcurrant sauce

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Hunger in the UK – 15 Ways Caterers and Food Bloggers Can Help

Hunger is a craving or need that most people experience, often on a daily basis.  For the majority of people in the UK this need is satisfied pretty quickly with a snack or a meal. Indeed we, as caterers and food bloggers, like to exploit this craving by creating delicious meals and sharing our favourite recipes.  Tragically there is a growing number of people in the UK, including children, who experience hunger on a daily basis – but they do not have the luxury of being able to eat when they are hungry. Parents go without food so that their children can eat. Children go to bed hungry. They go to school hungry.  The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world yet we have people faced with the choice between hunger or the indignity of asking for help from charities.  What can we do to help?

blog on hunger in the uk and how caterers and bloggers can help

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Austerity Makes You Fat

Why am I writing about austerity on a food blog?  Aren’t food blogs for foodies and people who love cooking?  Shouldn’t I just stick to sharing recipes and giving culinary tips? Perhaps – but austerity affects a lot of people and eating healthily and exercising is something we all need to do.  According to new reports, almost half of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted. A record number of primary school children are leaving school severely obese – more than 22,000 children!  Is it possible that austerity is responsible for this trend?

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Food Blog – Relaunching after an Eight Month Break

I’m sorry guys. I abandoned my food blog. I find it hard to believe that it’s been eight months since I last posted on my blog. It wasn’t intentional. Whenever I write my dogs lay by my feet, and sadly I lost my two Labradors within the space of a couple of weeks – Sasha aged 11 years and Holly who was only 5. I simply lost my motivation to write. I’m sure my fellow dog lovers will understand, but I am conscious of the fact that others have far greater losses to bear – so please accept my apologies.

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