Ready meals and takeaways come with the territory of being a student at university. You turn up to univeristy with a brand new set of cooking utensils only to end up using them once and resorting to takeaways and a pot noodle 5 days a week. Cooking your meals for yourself can seem like a lot of effort when you’re a student, especially when you think spending a fortune on fresh ingredients just isn’t worth it when you’re a student on a budget. But cooking healthy meals doesn’t have to be expensive! Are you a student looking for some cheap but healthy meals ideas? Be inspired by some of these easy vegetarian recipes for students!

Quick & Spicy Nasi Goreng

Serves: 1

Level: Easy

Cook time: 15 mins


2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 carrot grated

½ small savoy cabbage

175 g cooked brown rice

1 tbsp vegetarian ‘fish’ sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 egg

Hot siracha chilli sauce

Heat oil in a wok/frying pan over a high heat and soften and caramelise onions, then add garlic for 1 minute. Toss in the carrot and cabbage and cook down for 2 minutes. Add in the rice and stir until warmed through. Pour in the vege fish sauce and soy sauce (acts as your salt but may add more). Fry an egg in the centre of the wok until white it set. Serve over a large bowl and top with as much siracha as you dare! And there you have a quick and easy vegetarian meal for students cooking solo!

Caponata Pasta (the best pastas are vegetarian!)

Serves: 4

Level: Easy

Cook time: 20 mins


4 tbsp of olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

4 garlic cloves finely sliced

250 g Mediterranean veg mix (pre-cooked/canned or jarred)

400 g can chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp of capers

350 g rigatoni, penne or short pasta

Bunch of basil Parmesan to serve

If you’re looking for a substantial meal to cook for you and all your housemates, try this cheap vegetarian recipe for 4 students! In a pan heat the oil and caramelise the onions then add the garlic for another 2 minutes. Add in all the vegetables, tomatoes and capers. Season with salt and pepper and simmer (covered) for 10 mins. In the meantime, boil your water for your pasta, salt the water and cook pasta for no more than 10 minutes to achieve the ‘al dente’ result. Drain the pasta and add to sauce in the pan. Stir for 2 minutes and shred parmesan over it. Buon appetito!

Caponata Pasta

Roasted Broccoli, Puy Lentils and Tahini Yoghurt

Serves: 2

Level: Easy

Cook time: 40 mins


1 broccoli head cut into florettes

3 tbsp of olive oil

2 tsp of smoked paprika

250 g of ready cooked lentils

2 tbsp of tahini

1 garlic clove crushed

1 lemon zested and juiced

100 g Greek yoghurt

Small pack of fresh parsley roughly chopped

30 g of almonds roughly chopped

A great side dish or salad base for vegetarian students looking for cheap recipes! Rub broccoli pieces in a mixture of oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roast in over set to 200 °C for 30 minutes. Then add the lentils to the dish and sprinkle over 2 tbsp of water and cook for another 5 minutes. Separately mix tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice into the yoghurt. Season to taste and drizzle over vegetables and top with almonds for crunch.

Ratatouille (French Veggie One Pot Wonder!)

Serves: 2

Level: Easy

Cook time: 40 mins


1 Aubergine

2 courgettes

2 red peppers

 4 large ripe tomatoes

3 tbsp of olive oil

Small bunch of basil ripped up

½ an onion peeled and thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp of vinegar

1 tsp of sugar

As seen in the movie, a vegetarian ratatouille is perfect for students looking for cheap vegetarian recipes! Cut aubergines and courgettes into 1.5 cm chunks and slices. Cut peppers into bite size chunks after removing inner membrane and seeds. Quarter the large tomatoes and scape away the seeds. Set a pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil and brown aubergines until soft then set aside. Next fry courgettes in another tbsp of oil and then set aside. Repeat for peppers. Cook down onions and then add garlic and add the vinegar, sugar and the tomatoes followed by the ripped-up basil leaves. Return all vegetables to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Add salt and pepper to your liking and bon apétit!


Curried Tofu Wraps

Serves: 4

Level: Easy

Cook time: 30 mins


½ red cabbage shredded

4 heaped tbsp of dairy-free yoghurt

3 tbsp of mint sauce

3 x 200 g packs of tofu cut into 15 cubes each

2 tbsp of tandoori curry paste

2 tbsp oil

2 onions sliced

2 large garlic gloves sliced

8 chapatis/ wraps of your choosing

2 limes cut into quarters

Mix the cabbage, yoghurt and mint sauce and season. Toss the tofu in tandoori paste with 1 tbsp of oil and fry. It in batches in a pan until golden. In the remaining oil, cook down the onions and garlic for 8-10 mins or until softened. Then mix in the tofu to season it. Warm the chapatis/ wraps and top with cabbage, then tofu and squeeze over some lime…Mmmm, all done!

And there you have 5 of the best cheap vegetarian recipes for students!

This blog was written by Isabella Impavido, at the University of Nottingham.

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