The inspiration behind this blog comes from my sister who is in her first year at University. Last week I received a WhatsApp:
…..I was wondering if you had some time if you could think of any recipes someone could make with only a toaster, microwave, kettle and a toastie maker? We have very limited means of cooking here at uni but we have to make our own lunches every day…..
It’s not just students who will find this post useful; these recipes are ideal for preparation when space or equipment is limited. Whether it’s a kitchen at work, in a caravan on the road, when your oven is broken at home or while you’re away for work in a hotel use these as you SOS recipes. Relying on ready-made sandwiches and soups soon gets very tiring (and expensive) and really there’s no need to with such a variety of recipes at your very fingertips.
Starting university is a huge change in people’s lives, which throws up lots of challenges to overcome. For many it’s their first time living away from home, a new city, new people and lots of responsibilities all mixed with a party atmosphere. You’re eager to impress and make new friends as well as get to grips with your studies. Potentially this could be the first time you’ve been expected to shop and cook for yourself and really manage your own money – many students rely on fat and sugar laden fast food and ready meals to get them through. Not only is this really expensive but coupled with the late nights and sugar filled booze this can really take its toll on our bodies.
While we want to have fun and fit in it’s really important to remember that our bodies can only do so much. There’s no magic formula, we will only get back what we put it. If we can do one thing it’s feed our bodies with the right fuels to help cope with the mental and physical demands of student life. You don’t need to be the next Nigella or Jamie Oliver just try and eat lots of fresh veg, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains and leave the take aways for the occasional treat. You’ll get a lot more out of your university experience and be much better equipped to cope with the demands of student life too!
When I was a student we used to take it in turns to cook each night, usually something like a pasta bake, curry, chilli, fajitas or a big fish pie. It’s much cheaper to cook a recipe for 4-5 than make a portion for one plus you’re less likely to have food waste. It also means you get a few nights off each week, you’ll stay motivated to cook and are much less likely to reach for those convenience foods!
My sister was after some ideas for quick meals, and these make ideal lunches or breakfasts (lets be honest when you’re a student both tend to merge into one meal). I’ve created a recipe for each piece of essential kitchen kit; the toaster, kettle, microwave and toastie maker. Each base recipe can be varied too, swap the duck for chicken, prawns or tofu in the noodle pots. Add a variety of fillings to your omelettes, stuff the pittas with any number of fillings, try sliced banana and Nutella for an amazing breakfast. The kitchen is your oyster!
Want to extend your repertoire even more? I recommend a slow cooker. You can pick one up really cheaply and with just a single plug socket you can create some amazing meals that can simmer away while you’re in lectures. They’re great for big batches of Bolognese, soups, chilli and stews – just chuck in all your ingredients, choose the correct setting and let it do its thing. It couldn’t be simpler.
KETTLE: Sticky Duck Noodle Pots
Ready in 5 minutes
½ 130g pack aromatic Hoisin duck (Tesco sell these, ready cooked shredded duck)
1 bundle (1/4 pack) Mama instant rice noodles
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 sachets miso soup paste or half a chicken or veg stock pot (the gel ones)
1/3 bag stir-fry veg
Take a 550ml tuppawear pot with a lid (ours is from Tesco) or use an empty jar with a lid and put the miso soup paste or stock pot at the bottom, next add the sweet chilli and soy. Top with noodles, veg and then mix the duck with half the hoisin sauce that it comes with in the pack and put this in next. Boil a kettle and pour water into the jar until everything is covered. Screw on the lid and leave for 5 minutes. Shake well so that everything is combined then remove the lid and eat!
TOASTIE MAKER: Frittata Baguette.
Makes 1 Really Big Sandwich
Ready in 15 minutes
My toastie maker was a Russell and Hobbs one with normal sized plates, not deep fill. If yours is deep fill then you may need to use more mix.
1 tbsp Grated cheese
2 slices ham, finely chopped
1 Tomato’s, 1/2 sliced and the other 1/2 cut into quarters, seeds scraped out and diced (the seeds will make the eggs a little watery)
1 ciababba or crusty baguette, sliced open
1 tbsp mayonnaise or soft butter, for spreading
Handful salad leaves
Beat the eggs and milk in a with some salt and pepper until well combined. Turn on the toastie maker and give it a good spray with the oil on the top and bottom plates so it’s coated well, this will make it easy to remove the omelette.
When the toaster is hot (the light is green) pour the eggs in, stop just before you reach the top as once you add the fillings it will rise. Add the ham, tomato and finally the cheese. Close the lid and cook for 3-4 mins (you’ll know it’s cooked when it has risen up and turned golden) then open and use a spatula to gently remove the frittata.
Halve the baguette and spread with the mayonnaise or butter. Add the leaves, sliced tomato and hot frittata and serve immediately with ketchup or brown sauce.
TOASTER: Pitta Pizza Pockets
Makes 2 Pittas
2 round pita breads
2 tbsp tomato & basil pasta sauce or passata
pinch dried oregano
100g grated mozzarella
few slices pepperoni or salami or ham (or for veggie use roasted peppers or sun blush tomatoes)
Salad to serve
Carefully use a knife to cut around the pita breads, leaving one side in tact. Spoon and spread half the sauce into each one, sprinkle with oregano then add the cheese and meat or veg.
Press together to seal and put in the toaster, sealed side at the bottom. Toast for 3-4 minutes until the outside is golden and the cheese is melted. Serve with salad.
MICROWAVE: Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarb
3 tbsp buttermilk (or use regular milk mixed with ½ tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
3 tbsp chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb and a pinch of salt in a microwave proof mug and mix well with a fork until combined. Add the buttermilk or milk, oil and mix again then stir in the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
Microwave on high for 90 seconds if your microwave is 900W or 2 minutes if its 700-800W then allow to stand for 2 minutes before eating!