How to conquer the kitchen…student style!

By Elayna Hugh-Jones

One of the most exciting, or perhaps daunting – depends on your perspective, parts of moving away from home, is that you can eat whatever, and whenever, you want. Now, I understand that the freedom to eat chicken dippers and potato waffles every day may be very appealing to you, however, with this freedom comes great responsibility…to keep yourself healthy!

Don’t neglect your greens!

A lot of students tend to learn the hard way after weeks of beige dinners and Greggs’ sausage rolls, that this doesn’t quite cut it nutrition wise. Brain fog, headaches, bloating and extreme tiredness (I say extreme just because we’re Uni students so it’s all relative…) are just a few signs you’re probably not getting your greens. Remember that plate we all saw in primary school split into the different food groups? Yeah, that’s a real thing – and your plate should look like that as much as possible. You don’t need me to tell you that eating your greens is going to save you a lot of health issues down the line, but it’s also going to help your memory, improve your eye health and boost your immune system – which you’re gonna want when that fresher’s flu comes around.

The Powers of Protein

If you’re anything like me and are a frequent gym goer, vegetarian or you just check the amount of protein in everything for fun, then let me help you out. You may have thought chicken, beef, pork, etc when I mentioned protein, but come on, we can be more creative than that. Yoghurt, peas, lentils, peanut butter, milk, oats…the list goes on…are all super high protein foods and are very versatile. Eating around 1.2-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight is the sweet spot for most people, but people’s protein needs will vary, this is not a rule. Protein is gonna help you build lean muscle mass and produce less ghrelin (the hunger hormone) keeping you fuller for longer… which also means spending less on late night Tesco runs when the ice cream cravings hit. But enough of me being a green queen, lets get to the good stuff.

Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan!

If I could give you 1 tip for eating as a student, it’s to meal plan. I can’t stress this enough. I know it can seem easier to just grab something on your way home from that 5pm lecture, but meal planning is gonna save you a hell of a lot of time and money. For some people, cooking is a real chore, if that’s you then planning is a life saver. I personally spend 20 minutes on a Sunday deciding what I’m gonna eat for the week, head to Tesco, and I’m sorted for the week in less than an hour. Meal planning is totally personal though, all I recommend is that you do it!

Breakfast & Snacks

For breakfast I’m a stickler for protein oats, are we surprised? Or natural yoghurt and fruit, bagels, cereal…whatever’s gonna get you through that 9am. But my favourite part is the snacks. I don’t tend to plan this; I just allow myself a fiver on snacks for the week and see what looks good when I get there. A current favourite is making homemade tortilla chips and hummus – super easy, just sprinkle a wrap with some salt, drizzle of oil, cut into 6 segments and pop in the oven for a few mins. You wanna watch until they go slightly golden, they’re quite easily burnable so keep an eye on them!


I then think about lunches. Depending on how many days I need a packed lunch for Uni, in which case my go-to is Nigella’s peanut sesame noodles – no microwaaaaaveys necessary – I stick to the basics at lunch: eggs, soups, salads, sandwiches etc.

Sesame Peanut Noodles | Nigella's Recipes | Nigella Lawson
Nigella’s Sesame Peanut Noodles

Dinners (or “tea”)

Three dinners a week usually works for me, making 2 portions of each, and then just seeing what I fancy for dinner on Sunday – but this is completely personal preference. I’ve collated a list of all the meals I love cooking and chosen just a couple I think you’ll like.


This is a great veggie fajita recipe. Takes me about 20 minutes and I add chicken to mine too. I also make a guac on the side which requires an avocado, some oil, salt, pepper, little bit of lemon juice, garlic and coriander (if you’re not one of those people who absolutely despise it with a passion). Mix that all together and I guarantee it’s better than anything store-bought. You can even use the left-over wraps to make those tortilla chips!

The BEST Easy Chicken Fajitas -
My favourite Fajita Recipe!

Lemon and Rocket Linguine

This is a lemon and rocket linguine that needs 5 ingredients and even looks a little bit fancy if you sprinkle some rocket on top! A good one to make to impress!

Lemon linguine
Jamie Oliver’s Lemon and Rocket Linguine

Dan Dan Noodles

These Dan Dan noodles are an original Bosh! Recipe and are the best I’ve had. This is another veggie one but you can swap the plant mince for normal mince if you like.

Spicy Dan Dan Noodles (Vegan! 🌶) - YouTube
Bosh! Dan Dan noodles

Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

This is a great recipe for nailing a risotto, which is always good to have in the bag. I make this on a week when I know I’ll use the ingredients for another dinner or I make quite a few portions. I don’t buy a bottle of wine especially for this recipe…although it is a good excuse…so if I don’t have it I just use more stock instead. Once you’ve nailed a risotto you can get as creative as you like with it.

Chicken and mushroom risotto in a bowl with fork and napkin
BBC GoodFood Chicken and Mushroom Risotto

Be supermarket savvy!

My 2nd top tip is getting a free loyalty card for your chosen supermarket. I’m a proud Clubcard owner and I’m never going back. Usually about 1/3 of products have some sort of price reduction or deal – my flatmate basically does her shop with all Clubcard items, and I’ve never seen a weeks-worth of food done so cheaply. This week for example, I saved £5.40 with my Clubcard. Imagine that every 2 weeks or so. It really adds up. Not only can you save money, but you also get points with each shop that add up to vouchers. So when there’s no way of beating the late-night ice cream craving, you can go and get that cookie dough with your Clubcard points and it’s like it never happened!

Here I’ve just added a website with loads of quick, easy recipes with macros, portions, top tips and even videos on some recipes. 100% recommend taking a look on here!

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