The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Fitting the Student Budget – 4 meals that cost less than a Chesters

Save the pennies and your waistline…


A student budget doesn’t have to mean eating beans on toast for dinner everyday. There are plenty of flavourful meals you can create at home which are not only tastier but also cheaper than a Chesters. Shopping at Aldi or Lidl is one of the best ways to stick to your budget. Most of the prices you see below are from Lidl, although those from other stores are labelled.

1. Vegetable Stir Fry

Price break down:
Ready to Wok noodles                   28p
Stir Fry sauce sachet                       33p
Onions                                               8p each
Garlic                                                 6p for ¼ clove in Asda
Vegetables of your choice
E.g. ½ Broccoli                                50p
Bell Peppers                                     35p
Spring Onions                                 22p per half pack
TOTAL                                              £1.76

This low budget meal is the perfect way to spice up your student budget. In a pan, heat some sesame (or olive) oil and fry one chopped onion. Next, add some garlic and chillies for some fiery flavour. Chop and stir in the vegetables of your choice, for example bell peppers, broccoli, and spring onion. Once the vegetables are hot and a little chargrilled, add in a stir fry sauce sachet, for example the chow mein flavour. Spice with salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to get a flavour that beats even Chesters’ peri-salt. Finally, break up and add your noodles. Stir fry until the noodles are soft and covered in sauce. Voila!


2. Vegetarian Curry

Price break down:
Lloyd Grossman’s curry sauce         £1 in Sainsbury’s (2-3 servings)
2 Bell Peppers                                     70p
½ Broccoli                                           50p
1 small cup of Lentils                         15p/100g in Tesco
Red Kidney Beans                              30p
¼ clove Garlic                                    6p per ¼ in Asda
Red Onion                                           8p each in Lidl
Tinned tomatoes                                 29p in Lidl
TOTAL                                                  £3.08 for 2-3 servings, £1.02 per serving

With this recipe you can get the pleasures of the curry mile from the comfort of your own home. To begin, boil the kettle to cook your lentils. After rinsing off any debris, add one small cup of lentils to a saucepan, then add 3 cups of boiling water. Turn the hob onto a high heat and bring the lentils to boil. Then cover the lentils, reduce the heat, and simmer until they are tender (usually 15 or 20 minutes). During this time you can also cook your rice. Once the lentils are nearly cooked, using a separate pan, fry your diced onion in oil until soft (about 8 minutes) and then add the garlic. After 1 minute, add your bell peppers and broccoli and continue frying. Next, add the whole jar of sauce and reduce heat to simmer the curry. Drain and add the red kidney beans, then pour in ½  jar of tinned tomatoes. Let the curry cook on a low heat for another 10 minutes and serve with rice.


3. Fajitas

Price Breakdown:
Fajita Kit                                             £1.29 (3-4 servings)
2 Peppers                                            70p (35p each)
2 Red Onions                                     16p
Red Kidney Beans                             30p
(Chicken Breast                                 80p/breast)
TOTAL                                                 £2.45 Vegetarian for 3-4 servings, £3.25 with Chicken

This dish is perfect for a Mexican Night with your housemates, adding tequila and nachos for some flavorsome fun. Simply fry the onions, peppers ,and kidney beans with the flavoring provided in the pack, adding some chilli flakes if you can handle the spice. Serve with cheese, guacamole, and the salsa provided in the pack. Enjoy!


4. Pasta Bake

Price Breakdown:
250g Penne Pasta                              15p (30p for 500g)
1/2 Tin Chopped Tomatoes             15p (29p for whole tin)
1/2 Tin Sweetcorn                             20p (39p for whole tin)
1 Tin of Tuna                                       70p
1 Chopped Onion                               8p
100g grated cheddar cheese            48p (95p for 200g)
TOTAL                                                 £1.76

A classic student favourite, the pasta bake. This dish gives you all the carbs and cheese you need, whilst still sticking to your budget. Firstly, boil the kettle. Then fill a saucepan with the boiling water and add your pasta with a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, which usually takes 8-12 minutes. In a frying pan fry your chopped onion in oil until they are soft and golden. Next, add the tomatoes, sweetcorn, and tuna into the same pan and stir. Then drain the pasta and add the contents of the frying pan into the saucepan with the pasta. Stir to ensure all the pasta is coated. Next, put the mixture into a heatproof bowl, or deep baking tray, and cover in cheese, placing the tray under the grill. Take the tray out when the cheese is golden.

Happy Cooking!