It is essential when moving away to university and living in student accommodation for the first time that you have a few recipes up your sleeve.

Cheap student meals that are easy to prepare, simple to cook, and packed full of nutrients will go a long way to helping you save money on groceries without wasting food.

We know how difficult it can be at first when living as a student, especially if you have not cooked much before. So, to help you out, we’ve put together a list of some student meals that you can make from scratch.

Whether they are to feed just you or a group of friends, these 6 options are versatile to suit your busy needs.

1. Veggie Quesadillas

vegetarian quesadilla

@stiritupstaug – Instagram

Quesadillas are versatile and offer great comfort. They are also a fantastic way to pack in veggies without it overwhelming the dish.

This veggie quesadilla is a Jamie Oliver recipe that serves six people and is incredibly easy to prepare and cook, using loads of different vegetables, such as leeks, peppers, and carrot, though you can use whatever type and quantity of vegetables that you want and like.


  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • 3 leeks
  • 3 peppers
  • A large carrot
  • 140g of Red Leicester or Cheddar cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 fresh chilli
  • 120g natural yoghurt
  • 200g tub of houmous
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A few sprigs of your herb of choice (mint, parsley etc.)
  • Optional chipotle chilli sauce


  • Begin the process by peeling off the outer layers of the leeks and chopping the tender inner part.
  • Wash and grate the carrot.
  • Deseed and chop the peppers.
  • Mix all the vegetables together in a big bowl, grate in the cheese and add some of the fresh herbs if you choose to include them.
  • Scatter the veg and cheese across four tortillas and then put the remaining tortillas over the top.
  • Fry the quesadillas, one at a time, in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat for 5 minutes, until they are golden, and the cheese has melted. Turn them over halfway through.
  • Add half a tablespoon of the olive oil and a squeeze of the lemon to the houmous.
  • Slice the quesadillas into wedges and serve with the houmous, yoghurt and chilli.

2. Baked Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes

@madame_minima – Instagram

A baked potato is a super easy meal to cook from scratch. They are filling, offer you great versatility and they don’t take long to prepare.

With this recipe though, the white potato is substituted for a sweet potato, adding a vibrant angle to the classic dish, and offering a healthy boost to your mealtime. This recipe serves two people, so a potato each!


  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • Half a lemon
  • 80g natural yoghurt (fat-free optional)
  • Olive oil
  • A carrot
  • 6 radishes
  • A raw beetroot
  • A small red onion
  • An apple
  • A small pinch of ground cumin
  • A small pinch of ground turmeric
  • 35g rocket
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Optional maple syrup


  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Rub the sweet potatoes with some olive oil and then pinch sea salt and black pepper over the top.
  • Roast in the oven on a baking tray for around 40 minutes, and then use a fork to prick the potato to check they are cooked through. Then cook in the microwave for around 10 minutes or until tender.
  • Grate the lemon zest into a bowl and mix in the yoghurt, cumin, and turmeric.
  • Scrub the carrot, beetroot, radishes, core the apple and peel the onion. Coarsely grate by hand and put into the bowl.
  • Mix the vegetable mix with lemon juice, a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Toast the seeds in the frying pan for a couple of minutes before the potatoes are ready to eat. Add a tablespoon of maple syrup and let it bubble until it thickens, pour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, and leave to cool.
  • Cut a cross in the top of the sweet potato, break open with a fork and spoon over the spiced yoghurt, the salad, and the seeds. Scatter some rocket over the top.

3. Veggie Chilli

cheap student meals

@wholefood.reallife – Instagram

A chilli is one of the all-time classic recipes that you must learn if you’re going to uni!

It is really easy to make, can feed thousands of people and you can put whatever you want in it to pack a punch.

For this chilli, we’ve gone with the veggie alternative, and it serves 4 people.

This is a great way to easily cook up a big feast for friends after a hard day at university.


  • Sweet potatoes (500g)
  • Olive oil
  • One onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A teaspoon of ground cumin
  • A teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • 2 tins of kidney or chickpea beans (400g per tin)
  • 2 tins of plum tomatoes (400g per tin)
  • Lemon juice
  • Bunch of fresh coriander


  • Preheat the oven to 200c
  • Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small chunks
  • Place on a baking tray and add a pinch of cinnamon, cumin, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss them together to coat everything.
  • Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are golden and tender.
  • Roughly chop the onion, halve, and deseed the peppers and finely slice the garlic.
  • Chop the coriander stalks and deseed and chop the chillies.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and peppers to a medium-high heat pan with two tablespoons of oil and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chillies, spices, and coriander stalks, cook for another 10 minutes, and allow to caramelise, and then add the beans and tomatoes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a medium-low heat. Leave this to thicken over 30 minutes before stirring the sweet potato and coriander leaves through the chilli.
  • Squeeze the lemon over the top and serve with yoghurt or soured cream, rice, guacamole, or maybe tortilla chips.

4. Creamy Chicken Pasta

cheap student meals

@1001flavour – Instagram

Another recipe that is easy to cook from scratch and is fab to have on hand is defo this creamy chicken pasta. It tastes insane and only takes 30 minutes to cook…what more could you want? PS, this dish serves two people.

Think about this recipe as the same as a traditional filling for a chicken pie, but with pasta instead of the pastry casing.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can use leftover chicken from your Sunday roast dinner, giving you all the more reason to cook in your student kitchen!


  • 180g pasta
  • 150g roast chicken, shredded
  • A tablespoon of plain flour
  • A knob of butter
  • 8 large chestnut mushrooms
  • Half a bunch of spring onions
  • One and a half tablespoon single cream
  • Salt and pepper


  • Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling, salted water until tender.
  • Toss the chicken, flour, salt, and pepper together. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until it begins to froth.
  • At this point add the spring onions and mushrooms, frying them for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and add the chicken, stir together, and add chicken stock. Bubble and then turn down the heat, stirring in the cream once the chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir the pasta into the sauce, adding some leftover pasta water slowly until it has reached a consistency that you want.

5. Vegetable Halloumi Traybake with Tzatziki

halloumi traybake

@olivemagazine – Instagram

Traybakes are another super flexible dish to add to your cooking arsenal.

This veggie tray bake is a fantastic choice after a busy day of uni ‘cos it’s so easy to prepare. If you’ve ever cooked with the squeaky cheese God, halloumi, you’ll understand.

Even better, you should be able to make this recipe for just £1 per portion if you are clever with how you buy the ingredients.

This recipe serves two people, but you can easily tweak the recipe list if you are cooking for more people.


  • 300g of new potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • A teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 160g radishes
  • A red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 110g halloumi
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the tzatziki

  • A quarter of a cucumber, grated onto a tea tower with water squeezed out
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of dried mint


  • Preheat the oven to 220c.
  • Tip the potatoes into a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
  • Whisk together some vinegar with olive oil, garlic, and oregano, before adding the vegetables and the halloumi into the bowl and combining everything together well.
  • Add everything to the tray with the potatoes, stirring together again and return to the oven for 25 minutes until everything is softening yet crisping around the edges.
  • To make the tzatziki, put the cucumber into a bowl, add the yoghurt, garlic, and mint, stirring thoroughly to combine the mixture before adding a drizzle of olive oil over the top before serving.
  • Serve on a plate with tzatziki on the side.

6. Sausage Ragu

cheap student eats

@bbcgoodfood – Instagram

Another cheap student meal that you can cook easily from scratch and feed a big group of friends or portion out and freeze for later in the week or month.

This sausage ragu with pasta is very yummy and, in some ways, tastes even better when it’s been allowed to settle in the fridge for a day or two.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large, crushed garlic cloves
  • Quarter of a teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • Two tins of chopped tomatoes (400g each tin)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 6 pork sausages
  • 1 zested lemon
  • 350g rigatoni pasta
  • Parmesan to grate to your taste


  • Fry the onion and salt in a saucepan over a medium heat, using two tablespoons of oil. This should only take about 7-8 minutes. Then add in the rosemary, garlic, and chilli, cooking for one minute more.
  • At this point, tip in the tomatoes and the sugar, simmering for 20 minutes.
  • Take the remaining oil and heat over a medium heat. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the 6 sausages and break them up with a wooden spoon.
  • Cook these for 5-7 minutes until it has turned golden.
  • Add in the sauce with the lemon zest and the milk, simmer for 5 minutes.
  • If you wish to freeze portions for future meals, leave it to cool completely before transferring to freezer proof bags.
  • Take the pasta and cook based on the instructions on the packet.
  • Drain and toss the pasta with the sauce.
  • Scatter the parsley leaves over the top and add as much parmesan as you like for your own personal taste.

Learning how to cook is an integral part of growing up. Moving away from home and living in student accommodation will lead to you developing those personal skills that matter as you move into adulthood. You’ll learn how to budget and pay bills, how to shop for groceries effectively and the longer you go, the greater number of cheap student meals you can add to your recipe book. We’ve listed some great meals here that are easy to make from scratch, are nutritious, and can be portioned out to serve up a feast to friends or freeze for your own personal taste later in the week or month. You can see there are some great veggie meals alongside the meat dishes.