Tinned Tomatoes: The Backbone of Student Cooking

Manjula Simon

When you’re a student, chances are the meals you cook are cheap, easy and quick because if you’re trying to balance all your work along with some sort of a social life no one wants to be spending hours in the kitchen using ingredients you can’t afford or have never heard of. Among the typical university food staples such as pasta and frozen vegetables, tinned tomatoes are a basic cupboard essential that can be used in so many different recipes.

Tinned tomatoes can be bought at any supermarket, the cheapest being Tesco or Asda at just 28p per 400g tin and when you think about how many meals can be made with this ingredient it is definitely cost effective. The affordable price of the ingredient combined with their versatility is why they are so popular within student cooking and therefore the reason why, in pretty much any student’s food cupboard, you will find these.

Tinned tomatoes are such a good staple for your kitchen because their shelf life is so long, this was especially helpful during lockdown and will be for any future lockdowns. Due to their simplicity all the meals you can make using them don’t taste the same, especially when you can buy some tinned tomatoes that come with herbs, chilli or garlic.

As a base for so many different meals, you can tailor your recipes to your preferred flavours. If you like spicy food, a basic curry using tinned tomatoes is easy and quick, and you can add spices like garam masala, cumin, ground coriander and ginger. If you prefer Italian food, bolognese is a great recipe to go with and can be eaten with spaghetti or in a lasagne, and by adding different herbs you make it more authentic.

I’m sure many students already know the variety of recipes you can make with this amazing ingredient, but in case you don’t here is an easy and cheap recipe that is based around tinned tomatoes.


This is a very basic bolognese recipe that you can adjust to make your own, be that by adding different herbs such as rosemary or anything else. This can easily be made in bulk that can be frozen and goes great with spaghetti, a jacket potato or in a shepherd’s pie.


  • 500g Mince (beef, turkey, Quorn, soya or other vegan alternatives)
  • 2x400g Tinned Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 300ml of stock
  • 1 tbsp of Olive oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Any of your favourite vegetables (mushrooms and peppers work well)
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs (or basil/thyme/oregano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Chop up your onion, garlic and your chosen vegetables.
  2. Put the oil in a pan on high heat with your onions and garlic cloves and fry until they begin going brown. If adding vegetables, add them now until they start to soften.
  3. Add your tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, herbs, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer for around 20-30 mins making sure to stir occasionally.
  4. If eating with pasta or a jacket potato serve with grated cheese for extra flavour and enjoy!


You can’t argue against the fact that tinned tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods and they really are perfect for student cooking. Make sure you’ve always got a couple of tins in your cupboard so anytime you’re stuck for meal ideas you have always got recipes under your belt.

Manjula Simon

Featured image courtesy of Alice Nott

Image one courtesy of Krista Stucchio via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes made to this image. 

For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.  For more from Impact Food follow @impactmagfood on Instagram!


Leave a Reply