3 super-simple recipes for skint and starving students

Just started a new term at agriculture college or university? Top farm chef Philippa Vine shares some incredibly simple ideas for cooking meals in big batches or with your mates that are big on flavour, but won’t bust your average student’s skinny budget.

See also: The world’s top agricultural universities in 2018

Pasta with mushroom & bacon

Serves 4

Bacon and mushroom pasta by Philippa Vine


  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 340g dried pasta
  • 250ml single cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a little oil in a wide saucepan and cook the bacon pieces until just beginning to crisp.
  2. Add the mushrooms, stirring over a high heat for a few minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for couple more minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan with plenty of boiling water, with a little salt until just tender. Drain the pasta well.
  4. Add the cream to the mushroom and bacon mixture, bring to the boil and then stir into the hot pasta.
  5. Season with plenty of black pepper and taste for seasoning.

Sausage and vegetable tray bake

Serves 4

Sausage traybake by Philippa Vine


  • 12 pork sausages
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 aubergine, cut into slices
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 2 red peppers, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (180C for a fan oven or gas mark 6).
  2. Put all the other ingredients in a large roasting tin, toss with a good splash of olive oil, the smoked paprika and salt and pepper.
  3. Put into the oven and roast for about 45-50 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  4. If browning too quickly, just cover with kitchen foil, but make sure the sausages go golden and are cooked thoroughly.

7 foodie tips for students seeking culinary contentment

1. The big chill

It’s amazing how much you can freeze, so small containers – or better still bags, as they take up less space – mean you can defrost a spare portion when you need it (not everything freezes, so just check it’s OK before bunging it in).

2. Be social, save dosh

You might struggle to rustle up a nice meal for £2.50, but get three friends round and the four of you might well be able to club together to buy ingredients and enjoy a meal for £10 or less.

3. Be social media

The internet is awash with recipes for all tastes, budgets and occasions. There’s plenty of stuff specifically aimed at students, too, so it’s ideal if you’re ever in need of inspiration.

4. Resist the takeaway

Ok, there are times when nothing else will hit the spot. A hangover cure pizza or end-of-exams curry is more than fair enough, but don’t forget to view takeaways as a treat because they are a sure-fire way of burning through cash.

5. Buy in bulk

Basic staples that you’re sure you’ll ultimately use work out cheaper if you get them in larger, rather than smaller, quantities. It’s simple maths really. Penne, anyone?

6. Bargain hunter

We all love a bargain and there are some huge savings to be had if you seek out your local supermarket’s reduced to clear isle. Bask in the golden glow of the yellow stickers and load up on discounted grub for the freezer. You’ll never want to pay full price again.

7. Kitted out

One deep, non-stick frying pan can be incredibly useful, but don’t spend unnecessarily on items such as glasses that will inevitably get broken. Basic pint glasses will do the job.

When it comes to stuff you can share, such as tin openers, maybe you could split the cost with housemates and buy a communal one.

See also: More scrumptious farmer recipes

Chocolate brownies

Makes about 15

Chocolate brownies by Philippa Vine


  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate 
  • 140g butter
  • 220g caster sugar 
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 85g plain flour 
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


  1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C for a fan oven or gas mark 4).
  2. Line a 20cm square shallow baking tin with baking parchment.
  3. Put the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until melted. Wait for a couple of minutes to cool down and then beat in the rest of the ingredients until well mixed. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until just cooked.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin and, when completely cold, cut into squares to make about 15 individual brownies.

Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen

Philippa Vine runs the Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen cookery school in East Sussex.

A champion of local and seasonal food, this one-time MasterChef contestant has contributed many recipes to Farmers Weekly over the past 20 years.

She hosts a range of courses at Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen at Bates Green Farm, home of the Arlington Bluebell Walk.

It is based in a converted grain store on the farm where her husband Michael is a fifth-generation farmer, keeping sheep, cattle and poultry.

Originally launched as a small diversification, the cookery school has expanded and now draws people from far and wide, attracted by Philippa’s rustic style of cooking and the informal, fun approach she brings to the courses.

“I’m more of a home cook than a chef – just someone who loves British food and wants to tell the story of its journey from the farm to the plate,” she says.