Three easy student meals from your leftovers

By the end of term, every student cupboard and fridge is a sorry sight. Filled with staple, persistent, and never-quite-as-useful-as-you-had-hoped food that forces you to make bizarre, adventurous, and often disgusting meals in a mad attempt not to waste anything.

So I’m here to help. Using my own miserable food supply and mediocre cooking skills, I have tried to come up with three simple and (hopefully) edible meals that are ideal for helping to get rid of those pesky items in time for the holidays.

This, sadly, is what I have to work with:

I have come up with three simple and edible meals, ideal for getting rid of those pesky items in time for the holidays.

* 5 (yes 5) cans of tinned tomatoes
* 1 hunk of cheese
* 1/2 bag of rice
* 1 colossal bag of pasta
* 4 cloves of garlic
* Half jar pesto
* 1 tin of baked beans
* 1 tin of tuna
* Chilli powder
* Herbs
* Frozen peas
* 1 accidental tin of chickpeas (I wanted lentils)


MEAL 1 – Chilli con Carne

A classic student meal that is quick, yummy, and uses up an impressive amount of leftover food. A particularly cunning move was replacing the standard kidney beans with the more commonly leftover baked beans. Success!

Gets rid of: 2 tins of tomatoes, 1 tin of beans, 1 clove of garlic, chilli powder, a pinch of herbs, rice and cheese
Extra purchases: Mincemeat, and an optional onion
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Fry your onion and garlic then add the mince to brown. Add tins of tomato, baked beans, herbs, salt and pepper if you have it, and a pinch of chilli powder. Leave boiling for about 20 mins to reduce down and thicken, then serve with cheese on top, accompanied by rice.

MEAL 2 – Chickpea Thai curry

An interesting meal choice perhaps, but I just really needed a way to get rid of those fucking chickpeas. It looked like sick, but tasted decent. To be honest, it would probably be better with lentils.

Gets rid of: Tinned tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas, rice, and peas.
Extra purchases: Thai curry paste, fresh coriander, an optional onion
Preparation time: 20 mins

Fry chopped onion, garlic and coriander. Add 3 tablespoons of curry paste, chickpeas, peas, and 500ml of boiled water. Simmer for a few minutes before adding a can of tomatoes. Reduce, then serve with rice.

Food - 3  meals from your cupboard leftovers starting supplies - Credit Alice ChildMEAL 3 – Tuna, cheese, pesto and peas pasta bake

The classic tuna pasta bake, but with added whatever-shit-you-have. Understandably, this recipe worried me, but it worked out surprisingly well.

Gets rid of: pasta, pesto, tuna, cheese, and peas
Extra purchases: none
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Mix tuna, pesto, some oil, grated cheese and peas in a bowl. Add cooked pasta to the mix then pour everything into a baking dish. Scatter with remaining cheese, and grill on high for 3-4 minutes.

It is a lot easier to use up leftovers than I thought. Especially considering how many yummy ideas it will give you. Here are three staple foods every student cupboard/fridge should have:

* Tinned tomatoes – used for the base of so many meals, and they are so cheap. Get some.
* Rice or pasta – everyone needs a cheap carb in their cupboard, and these two act as the main carb for all the meals in this article, but also make good side portions e.g. pasta salad lunches, rice with fajitas etc.
* Cream cheese – I cannot stress how useful this cheap addition to your fridge is. Use it to add moisture to any creamy pasta sauce (eg. pesto, mushroom, tomato), fill up sandwiches, stuff chicken breasts wrapped in bacon to retain their moisture, or fry with garlic or pesto for a simple sauce that accompanies both fish and chicken. The uses are endless.

Alice Child

Images: Christopher Thomond, Alice Child.


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