Adapting Classic Student Recipes

Photography by Hannah Penwright

Loaded Nachos

Words by Indigo Jones

The entire definition of student cooking is making hearty meals on a budget, and living in Cardiff adds an extra challenge- working around what ingredients are available from our beloved Cathays’ Lidl. Student cooking can often be disappointing and colourless, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Alas, if you too are a student on a budget but do not want to be restricted by traditional student meals which remind you of dense school dinners, I’ve got an idea for you.

One of the first meals I learnt to cook in university was of course a vegetarian bean chili, it’s an easy meal, the ingredients are cheap and it leaves you with plenty of leftovers for the coming week. But I found that eating chilli day after day became rather repetitive, so instead I began making the pub favourite- loaded nachos. It’s simple: layer nachos in a baking tray, add your chilli and cheese (or a cheese alternative to make it vegan) and put it in the oven to heat through. My favourite addition to loaded nachos will always be plenty of guac, salsa and sour cream, and if you are partial to a bit of heat don’t be shy with the jalapeños. This adds a bit of colour to your often lifeless student chilli. 

Ingredients for the chilli:

  • 1 tin of kidney beans (400g)
  • 1 tin of black beans (400g)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 pepper (colour optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin


  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapeños
  • Tortillas
  • Plenty of cheese

Peanut Butter Noodles

Words by Elizabeth Mendleton

What university meal is simpler and more classic than the instant noodle? From Super to Pot, there is no student that can’t master this dish (I hope).

I love Asian food and one of my favourite flavours is the nutty and sweet taste of Satay Chicken or Pad Thai, but with a student budget and lack of kitchen space there are easier ways to achieve this without nipping to the Chinese takeaway or becoming a Teppanyaki master overnight. You can upgrade your instant noodle or ramen, (flavour permitting) by adding peanut butter for this satay-esque twist. If you want to go all out, adding any combination of soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, garlic, and honey to the peanut butter concoction will upgrade it ten-fold. Add some spring onions and coriander on top and these additions can make it into a proper meal that’s a little less sad. This adaptation works best with milder flavours such as chicken or vegetable, and of course using plain noodles too! This hack is so versatile and adjustable to your flavour preferences and effort you put into your cooking, from upping your pot-noodle game to prepping some fancy-ish noodles from scratch!


  • Your choice of noodle/ instant noodle/ ramen
  • 3 tbsp. peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)


  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1-2 tbsp. sriracha
  • Spring onion and coriander to top

Spicy Baked Beans

Words by Zahra Nadeem Ahmed

The easiest, laziest and classically ‘student’ meal I frequently prepare at uni is beans on toast. After a long night at the library or as a quick bite between lectures; beans on toast is a guaranteed cheap and tasty meal. However, having been apart from my mother’s wonderfully prepared curries for months on end means sometimes plain beans on toast just won’t cut it. After rustling through my cupboards and experimenting with a few different ingredients, I believe I have come up with a brilliant Asian twist to jazz up this typical student grub!

First, you will need to grab that lonely onion at the back of your fridge and chop half into small pieces. Collect any pot, pan, wok and put it on the hob with some oil. Chuck in the onion on medium heat and sprinkle in the secret ingredient…curry powder (trust me it will taste amazing). Then open any can of baked beans you can find and let it heat up for 5 minutes. In the meantime, toast and butter two pieces of bread and once the beans have heated up pour it on top. For some extra substance and if I am feeling boujee, I will sprinkle some grated cheese and chilli flakes on top but this is completely optional.


  • 1-2 slices of bread
  • Light spread of butter
  • Tin of Baked Beans
  • Half an onion
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Oil

Ultimate Mac and Cheese

By Harriet Lowbridge

When I think about the ‘typical’ student foods, I think about the stereotypical meals. The stir fry. The bowl of cereal for dinner. The plate of plain pasta (yes, I know you lot are out there). But when it comes to uni life, I think we should be enjoying ourselves, so I think it’s time to dig into my ultimate mac and cheese.

To make it, preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Cut the chorizo into coins and cook on a medium heat until browned, keeping the oil. Boil the pasta until al dente. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on a low heat. Gradually stir in one tablespoon at a time of plain flour, until it looks like a dry-ish paste, happening around 3-6 tablespoons. Turn off the heat and gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture is runny like single cream. Next mix in the seasonings and salt and pepper. Return to a low heat and gradually add in your cheese, leaving the mozzarella for last. Place your pasta into a big Pyrex dish and mix in your chorizo and oils, and then add the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the leftover cheese and grate the bread on top. Cook in the oven until the top looks golden and crispy.


  • 350g pasta- any pasta will do
  • 4 tbsp of salted butter
  • Plain flour (see the recipe for the amount)
  • Whole milk (see recipe)
  • Cheese- Any type, any amount. I personally use a dinner plate full of cheddar, red leicester and 100g wet mozzarella.
  • 200-250g chorizo
  • 1 or 2 slices of bread (or panko breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Large handful of chives