Cooking can be both time-consuming and budget-destroying, especially for students, and the temptation to just order in or buy ready meals can be hard to resist. Never fear, I have the solution. Two words: Batch Cooking. By making food in bulk, one evening of cooking can turn into two, four, or even six meals; the only thing you have to do is heat it up. Here are 8 easy batch cooking ideas for students to take advantage of, that will hopefully make cooking less painful.
Cooking Ideas for Students
This traditional vegetable stew is super easy to make and incredibly healthy too. You do have to spend some time chopping up all the ingredients, but then you just chuck them in the pot, simple right? This dish is extremely versatile, so you can change up the recipe each time you make it until you find your favourite. It can be eaten on its own or with accompaniments, such as rice or mashed potatoes, so although you’re eating the same ratatouille, each dish is unique. If you have a blender, you could even blend your ratatouille and make a sauce to go on pasta (just remember to remove the bouquet garni beforehand if you use one, learnt that the hard way).
Lasagne is a warm comforting dish. It’s perfect for when it’s cold out or pouring with rain and can be made in an hour. It is easy to assemble with its simple layered structure of pasta sheets and can be adapted to meet your dietary requirements. Whether you want to fill it with meat, vegetables, meat substitutes, or even more pasta, lasagne’s there ready and waiting. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, you just bung it in the oven. Due to its flat shape lasagne is also easy to store in the fridge or freezer for you to enjoy another day.
One of my favourite meals to make is a good curry, really flavoursome and useful for students who only have a hob in their accommodation as it doesn’t necessarily need to be cooked in the oven. However, the recipe I favour is a tray bake; you just mix all the ingredients together and place it in the oven, you don’t even have to cook the chicken first, it goes in raw. Of course, you don’t have to make a chicken recipe, like the other dishes in this list, curry is incredibly versatile and can be made with a variety of meats, fish, and veg. One curry I’ve had success with is actually made with sweet potatoes and spinach. Whatever suits you.
Soup is an excellent choice if you fancy a lighter dinner or lunch. Making soup is a great way to get the most out of the leftovers in your fridge, so you get a good meal and waste less food. Super easy and super healthy, soup is a great way to get creative and experiment while also getting your five a day. If you don’t have a blender and are put off by how much they can cost, don’t worry; there are actually many affordable blenders out there, such as hand-held blenders, it’s not as expensive as it seems. Do make sure to let the soup cool before blending it though, the consequences could be disastrous!
Another dish that, like lasagne, is very easy to store. Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie is a classic UK creation developed in the 18th century. It is a hearty dish that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Potato is the star of this meal, but you can fill the pie with a variety of things; while traditionally made with beef or lamb, you can also fill it with vegetable, lentils, Quorn, etc. Cottage/Shepherd’s Pie goes well with almost any kind of vegetable you can think of and really fills you up, so is a great choice if you’re particularly hungry or know you won’t be eating for a while.
I don’t know what it is about pasta bakes but there’s something nostalgic about them, and they’re one of my top batch cooking ideas for students that I recommend. They’re very straightforward to make and some of the recipes take just 30 minutes. That’s half an hour of work to get half a week’s worth of meals (or more). Pasta Bakes can be really fun too, a little like soups you can often incorporate leftover vegetables or meat into the dish, so it doesn’t go to waste. While my favourite might be macaroni cheese, there are endless possibilities.
Another classic for batch cooking, Chilli con carne or veggie chilli, is one of those recipes that stands the test of time. Chilli is great on its own or served with rice, guacamole, or if you’re feeling cheeky add some tortilla chips for that extra salty crunch. Again, another easy-going recipe with cooking times varying between 20 minutes and an hour, and most of that time is just letting it simmer as it does its thing. Make sure to taste test as you add the chillies/chilli powder though, don’t want to spend time making a wonderful chilli only to take a bite and have it blow your head off!
Granola is perfect for a healthy start to the day or as a snack while you’re on the go. It might not be the most obvious food that comes to mind when thinking of batch cooking ideas for students, but it’s dead simple, can be made in bulk, and it’s vegan, gluten free, and dairy free. All you need to get started is an oven and an airtight container. You can test out all different kinds of combinations of nuts, fruits, and seeds, and can get more elaborate as you become more confident. Perfect on its own, with milk, or yoghurt, you can even add granola to muffins and other baked goods. You can take your time deciding how you’re going to enjoy it as granola can last up to 3 weeks, a perfect option for batch cooking.
Cooking Ideas for Students Conclusion: Batch Cooking is the Best
So, there they are. 8 ideas to get you started in the marvellous world of batch cooking. It’s time effective, cost effective, and delicious. Particularly for students, it can take some of the weight off your shoulders as you no longer have to think about where your next meal’s coming from or what you’re gonna make, it’s all been taken care of in advance.