Students’ Cheap Eats

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With college grants being cut in this year’s budget, college registration fees rising and average rents increasing in Dublin, students either have to budget or go hungry.

While cheap instant noodles, sliced pans, ketchup pasta and frozen pizza will do for some, there’s plenty of advice out there for those with a hunger for good food at good prices. Whether you’re heading away from your parents to go to college for the first time or you’re living at home, cooking is easy and can be cost effective with some forward planning.

First you’ll need to kit yourself out with some kitchen essentials. You’re far more likely to cook once you don’t have to chop all your veg with a blunt knife on a chipped plate. Dublin blogger Adam who runs has a section dedicated to student food. He advises you to “pop down to Ikea, it’ll cost about €100 for everything to kit out a kitchen”. He has compiled a list of all the equipment you need: frying pan, one large pot, one small pot, colander or sieve, mixing bowls, whisk, roasting tin, baking tray, bottle opener, tin opener, peeler, spatula, wooden spoon, grater, good cook’s knife, bread knife, measuring jug and two chopping boards.

You will also need to stock up on some essentials: oil, salt and pepper, vinegar, flour, sugar, tinned tomatoes, dried pasta, rice, noodles, stock cubes, and condiments. A small selection of dried herbs and spices are also great to add flavour to a meal. Choose ones that pop up on your favourite recipes again and again, and don’t be afraid to substitute one spice for another.

There’s 21 meals in a week, so put together a plan for each one. Lunch can often be leftovers from dinners. A bag of porridge can last you weeks and costs next to nothing. A full chicken often costs little more than just two breasts and can cover several meals, including a stock for a leftover chicken noodle soup, or cheap carrot and coriander soup.

Take inspiration from a young single mother living in England who just over a year ago began a blog about feeding herself and her young son for £15 a week. Before this she was at her lowest when at breakfast she let herself go hungry and fed her son a Weetabix mushed up with water. She then went to the supermarket, bought one of everything in the budget range and made a plan of what to cook. She has since signed a book deal with Penguin and has a video blog on the Guardian website:

Her recipes are extremely low budget and healthy, meals will cost you next to nothing once you’ve a well-stocked cupboard. She prices each meal by how much you will use of something, so a bag of flour will be spread across many meals or a teaspoon of cumin will cost only a few cents.

If you must eat out, or have a hangover that means you can’t face cooking, then check out this blog for suggestions on where to eat a decent meal for a fiver:

Also worth checking out for some money-saving tips is the recently launched

By Emma Dwyer