Okay, so I'm guessing there are a few of you (at least) who are heading off to University in the next couple of weeks, and I've been saying I'm going to make this thread for a while now. I'm going to have a run down of the meals I eat most most at university, with estimated costs and a simple recipe. They may not be meals to your liking, and they may not be necessarily be the “proper” way to do it, but they are the way that I do it, and the way that I like it, and I've not yet had any complaints P:
I can't speak for the rest of the world when I estimate prices, so this will be most accurate for British students, but even so you should be able to get an idea of what's cheap and what's not, although I don't know much about food prices abroad.
I'm a keen believer in cooking nearly all of your meals yourself; it's cheaper than ready meals or going out, you can be a lot more choosy with what you want to cook, and if you do it right you can eat pretty healthily too. I think fruit and vegetables are an important aspect of healthy eating, but they can be difficult to 'embrace' as a student, but I'll cover that in a little while!
Okay, first things first... if you want to start cooking for yourself properly, you're going to need more than a single saucepan. You don't need a lot, but a few key bits of kitchen ware to have are:
Saucepan – medium size, non-stick. You can get non non-stick if you like, but the price difference is so minimal (if there even is a difference) that you might as well get non-stick. It means just that, your food won't stick to your pan. It makes cooking (and washing up) so much easier, I don't really see why any student would choose non non-stick. You will use this mostly for boiling pasta/vegetables/rice/noodles. Frying pan – again, fair size and non-stick. Even if you get a non non-stick saucepan, make sure you get a non-stick frying pan, or you'll spend most of your cooking time trying to pry burnt bits of food off the bottom of your frying pan. You will use this mostly for frying (of course), but it's your key piece of kit when it comes to a lot of dishes. Without a frying pan you will struggle. Knives – you don't need a massive fancy set, just a couple. If you're on a really small budget you could probably get away with one vegetable knife, but I would recommend at least 2 knives; a vegetable knife (quite small) and a chef knife (I don't know a whole lot about knives, but to me this is just a medium size, regular knife). Your vegetable knife will be for cutting vegetables (surprisingly!) and your chef knife will be for pretty much everything else, cutting meat/fish for example. [3rd and 6th in this picture]
(If you're gonna be buying unsliced bread then a bread knife is necessary, but unsliced bread is nearly always more expensive than sliced, so not that many students will buy it)
Chopping board – accompanying the knives should be a chopping board. You can pick these up for very cheap. It could be recommended that you have at least 2, one that you only prepare vegetables on, and one that you only prepare meat on, but if you're confident in your own hygiene practices then you can happily get away with one. If you're not too sure, just grab a couple, like I said they're very cheap! Baking dish – should be made of Pyrex/strengthened glass or some sort of stoneware. I don't know much about stoneware so I would recommend Pyrex/glass dishes. If you're planning to cook mostly for yourself then you don't need a big one, a smaller version of something like this (http://www.kitchenetc.com/images/products/shprodde/178233.jpg) would be fine. You'll use this for dishes like shepherd's pie/toad in the hole. Tupperware – little plastic boxes for storing your leftovers in. If I make a chilli con carne I normally get 3 or 4 portions out of it, so I tend to separate it into my tupperware and store it in the fridge/freezer for a later date. Tupperware is pretty cheap, so I would recommend having a few little boxes in your kitchen. They normally come in sets of three or so, just get medium size ones and you're good to go. But just before you buy double check it's freezer safe – some of the really cheap brands aren't always, and whilst it won't do you any damage, it'll be a waste of a box, so just make sure it's freezer safe. Colander – used for draining pasta/vegetables, very useful. You don't have to have one, but I would recommend it. Jug – unless you're a pro liquid estimator, jugs are pretty important Cheese grater – if you want grated cheese (or anything else) with a meal, you're gonna need a grater Spatula – this is pretty much a necessity, as you will use it for most dishes. I'm not quite sure if spatula is the right word, but I mean one in the pic. Without one, you could struggle. I have quite a few utensils but this one I use the most, for sure. Wooden spoon – another piece of essential kit. Wooden spoons you'll use for making sauces, stirring, and if you do any baking then you'll definitely want one! Tin opener – I don't think I need to explain why this is important... Bottle opener – same as above Vegetable peeler – If you're confident with a knife you can skip the peeler, but they make potatoes etc. so much easier, I highly recommend you own one. Scissors – you don't have to have a pair of dedicated kitchen scissors, but they are very handy to have. Whether you're cutting sausages, green beans or pizza (oh yes!) they are always useful.
Those are probably the main essential you'll need, but there are some others that you might find useful:
'Tweezers' – I don't know what else to call them, but they look like giant plastic tweezers. These are perfect for things like bacon and sausages, or anything else that you need to grab and turn. Not a necessity, but they do make life a lot easier sometimes. Ladle – if you're making soup (or serving punch!) then you'll probably want a ladle, it's the best thing for serving liquid. Slotted spoon – for lifting food out of boiling water and onto a plate. Personally I prefer to use a colander, but this could be easier for some people. Pizza wheel – student favourite! Scales - if you're not too sure about measurements
Now that may sound like a lot of stuff, but once you start cooking you'll realise it really isn't. It's very easy to pick up cheap kitchen stuff from a lot of shops, and I think Wilkinsons is my recommended choice for most stuff. They're cheap, and they have a lot of the stuff you'll need. Most pans don't cost you more than a couple of quid, and the same for things like chopping boards and tupperware.
However, before I came to university I went to Ikea with my dad, and we bought one of these StartBoxs they do. It contained pretty much everything I needed to start at uni, and more. There's some stuff I haven't used, but most of it I have, and I think it's a great thing for starting out in the kitchen. It was about £60 when we bought it, but I don't know if that's changed now. If your budget can stretch to it then I really recommend it. Here is what it contains:
I nearly forgot, oven gloves are also very important!
And a potato masher!
Right, that's basic equipment sorted (and I don't need to tell you that you also need cutlery and crockery, but that's entirely your choice), so some basic cooking tips to accompany it!
1. Do not use metal utensils on non-stick pans
It scratches them, the non-stick coating comes off and then you end up with a rusting, useless pan. The best thing you can do to avoid this is to buy silicone/plastic utensils. The ones I got in my Ikea StartBox are a hard plastic, so I'm still fairly gentle with them, but try your best to avoid metal utensils. Also, if you are going to buy metal utensils, don't buy ones that are just a single piece of metal, make sure there is a handle, otherwise the heat of your cooking will travel up and reach your hand. Silicone is really becoming very popular in cooking, and even cheap places normally sell it.
2. Do not (under any circumstances) put metal in the microwave
I apologise if this sounds condescending, but it is very important that you never do this.
3. Don't leave cooking unattended
As you get more confident you might be able to leave your food for short whiles whilst you do something else, but when you're starting out I don't recommend leaving your food unattended for any time. Obviously if you're baking potatoes and they need to be in the oven for over an hour you don't have to camp out in front of oven to keep an eye on them. But if you're cooking pasta, or sauces, of spaghetti bolognese I wouldn't recommend leaving it, you don't know how quickly you could burn (and ruin) your food.
Basic cooking tips covered, now here are some basic food tips
1. Do not underestimate the power of the value price food
For my first year and a half of university I had it stuck in my head that all value food was evil and full of rubbish and only if I had no other choice would I choose it. But then I actually tried some, and was pleasantly surprised. Even if the difference between a regular and value piece of food is less than 50p or so, you'd be very surprised at how much you start saving when you substitute some foods for the value equivalent. There are some things that I will still not buy value, as the quality difference is very noticeable, but there are a few good things that I no longer see the point in spending extra money on, when the value version is just fine.
Also please note that I am talking mostly about ASDA and Sainsbury's value products here, as these were the two supermarkets available to me in Preston. I can't speak for Tesco or Morrisons, though I've often been told that Morrisons value range is very good.
Good things to buy at value price
Tinned tomatoes - you will use these in a lot of dishes, you can get them in cartons instead of cans for even cheaper
Bell peppers - Sainsbury's do a little bag of mixed peppers for £1.35, great value
Fruit – ASDA and Sainsbury's both do a lot of fruit bags for value price, bags of oranges/bananas/apples for cheap
Bacon – ASDA do little bags of “bacon bits” and Sainsbury's sell “cooking bacon”, both are perfectly fine if you're adding bacon to a dish, or you don't mind having smaller bits on your plate with a fry up, and it's so much cheaper
Mince (fresh) – You can often get little boxes of fresh mince at a value price, but they will be slightly more tough than the more expensive ones. But if you're not too fussed, then buy cheap mince by all means
Mince (frozen) – ASDA do bags of mince for 90p (454g). Now, the mince is pork 80% and beef 20%, but the taste difference is minimal, and the price saving is significant, so don't exclude this possibility. It also has no rubbish preservatives or “fillers”, which is great for this price
Things I wouldn't recommend buying cheap
Sausages – awful meat content, filled with rubbish and taste bad too
Pasta – it's so cheap anyway, there's no need to buy value pasta, which tends to have a weird consistency and cooks oddly too
Canned/ready meals - things like meatballs and gravy in a can. It's full of absolute rubbish, tastes awful and you get no nutrition from it
2. Fruit and vegetables
Your best friend, and worst enemy. Fruit and veg is important in eating healthily, but there are some pretty bad points that accompany it. This is how I generally combat these problems:
Problem: It's expensive
Solution: Buy value, buy frozen
As mentioned above, a lot of supermarkets sell value bags of fruit. ASDA often have bags of apples/bananas for £1. If you're not too fussed about Fairtrade/organic produce then buy these value bags, the there's next to no difference in quality (unless you've previously been a super organic person) and the money you can save is substantial. With vegetables it's a fairly similar deal, value bags of onions, peppers, potatoes are all fine for your cooking. If you have enough freezer space you can also consider buying frozen veg, things like chopped peppers and mushrooms are great to have in the freezer, as they can be expensive to buy fresh and don't keep for that long in the fridge.
Problem: It goes off too soon
Solution: Don't buy it before you need it, and buy less
One of my biggest waste problems was that when I bought fruit or vegetables (although fruit is the worst offender) it would be past its best before I'd eaten it. Or I'd buy a bag of bananas and then forget about them, then rediscover them a week later, and they're not suitable to eat – a complete waste of money. Waste is very important as a student, you want as absolutely little of it as possible. The easiest way to combat waste is to plan roughly when you're going to cook, and buy your ingredients as close to that time as possible. There is no point in buying mushrooms on a Wednesday for a spaghetti bolognese you want to cook the following Monday, buy them as close to the cooking time as possible. Obviously this can get tricky if you can only go shopping on certain days, but try your best to work around this, as it really helps to minimize waste. And as for fruit, if you find buying a bag of apples is pointless because you'll eat 2 then forget about them, when you next go shopping just buy 2 apples. There is no point in buying more than you realistically think you'll eat, because it'll just get wasted, and waste is bad.
Meat is a great addition to a lot of meals, and whilst it's not recommended to have a diet high in red meats, I think in moderation it's tasty and enjoyable. And if you do it right, it doesn't have to be too expensive, just don't expecting to be eating steak every week.
Most meals that use mince ask for beef mince. You can use lamb or pork if you wish, but beef is your regular type of mince. Like I said in the value section, you can buy cheap mince if you don't mind a bit of extra chew, or a mince that's primarily pork. If you want to treat yourself then you can buy a nice quality mince, you probably will notice the difference, but as a student generally value mince is fine.
Other kinds of beef (steak etc.) I always find to be too expensive for me. Occasionally I get some beef strips to put in a stir fry, but generally it's too expensive for me to buy otherwise.
I don't cook many dishes with unprocessed pork, but bacon is a great thing to add to a lot of dishes (and can be bought cheap) and sausages are in a couple of the recipes I'm going to share with you, and they are hearty and filling foods, especially in winter. Just remember, buy cheap bacon, but don't buy cheap sausages!
Chicken can be great to cook with, it's very versatile and is a nice white meat, full of protein but not too fatty. Although fresh is getting more and more expensive, you can normally buy bags of frozen chicken fillets for £3-£4 for 6 or so pieces. Frozen chicken is my recommendation, as you get much more for your money versus fresh.
4. Canned food
Your saviour. Whilst I wouldn't recommend buying canned meals (meatballs in gravy, chicken in a white sauce), there are a lot of canned goods that can be great for using with cooking. They tend to be fairly cheap, and they last (pretty much) forever, so canned goods are always great. Soup is a great tinned food to keep, as is baked beans. If you're not that hungry, or don't feel up to cooking, you can still have a relatively filling meal, very easily and cheaply.
5. Frozen food
Frozen food is great. It's normally cheaper than fresh, and it keeps for much longer. Again, I wouldn't recommend buying Ready Meals and rubbish like that, but there are far too many good frozen products to try and list here. I'm sure you understand why frozen is good P:
This is likely to be your staple food as a student. It's cheap, versatile and easy to cook with. There are so many possibilities with pasta you would have to be an extremely fussy eater not to find at least a couple of dishes you like. Personally, I love pasta, and as you will see it features a lot in my meals.
Okay so I think that's enough tips and stuff, now it's time for some actual recipes!
I'm gonna start with the easiest ones, and whilst nothing here I would consider difficult, the ones that you might need a little more cooking experience with I shall leave 'til the end. I hope you find at least a few meals that you like!
And a few basic recipe techniques just in case anyone really isn't familiar with cooking at all
1. Boil the kettle with enough water to fill 2/3rds of the pan
2. Turn the heat on and wait until your water is at a rolling boil (big bubbles are “rolling” in it)
3. Add the pasta, and remember portion sizes differ greatly, but generally it's between 50g – 100g per person.
4. Turn the hob down so that the pasta is simmering in the pan (little bubbles) and leave for somewhere between 5 – 12 minutes (completely depends on the type of pasta your cooking). But remember, even the times stated on the packet are an estimate, the best way to see if your pasta is cooked is to grab a bit out (using a spoon/spatula!) and testing it yourself, you should know the consistency of cooked pasta.
5. To drain, pour into colander (normally placed in your sink), shake it around a bit to get off the excess water, then either serve onto plates or put back into the pan (depending on the dish)
Making mashed potato
1. Peel and chop your potatoes into half-egg (?) size pieces
2. Place into a pan of cold water, and turn the heat on
3. Keep an eye on the potatoes (as they have a tendency to over boil, messing up your hob) and make sure they get to a simmering stage (small bubbles)
4. Keep them simmering for about 15-20 minutes. Sometimes less, again you should test whether they're cooked or not by tasting
5. Once they're cooked, drain them in the colander then return them to the pan
What you now add to the potatoes is completely up to you. Some people mash their potatoes without any additional ingredients, but a lot of people like to add at least a little bit of butter. Butter is nice to add, especially if it's salted. Milk is also nice, but be very careful when you're adding it and don't pour in too much, otherwise you'll end up with soggy mash, and that's never nice. Salt and pepper can be added, as can various herbs. Cheese can be nice, depending on what dish you're having the mash with, garlic adds a lot of flavour, and even chopped bacon can be added.
But for a very simple mash, just add a knob of butter and mash away!
Mashed potato takes quite a lot of time and effort to prepare, so I tend to make 1.5kg worth of it at a time, then divide into portions and freeze what I'm not using that day. To freeze I just put into freezer bags and whap them in, to defrost I take them out of the freezer and into the fridge 24 hours before I want it. If you're good at estimating portions then you can make the mash just as and when you need it, but the option to cook in bulk and freeze is always there.
Browning mince means to cook it most of the way through. When you first put the mince into the pan it will be pink/red, but as it starts to cook it will go brown. Cooking mince is very easy. If you have a non stick pan you shouldn't need any oil, just pop the mince in and keep it moving in the pan with your spatula. A lot of juices often come out of mince, but these will evaporate as you keep cooking.
Browning onions means the same thing, to lightly cook them.
Probably the easiest meal here, although it is certainly not the quickest. If you're a baked potato purist then you can cook them in the oven, for roughly an hour and a half (depending on the size) after pricking the skin and putting a little olive oil on the skin (makes it nice and crispy), but if you don't want to wait that long (or spend that much on gas for a single meal) then microwave them. Although it depends on the size of the potato, generally they go in the microwave for ~10 minutes.
1. Wash (but don't peel!) the potato, and prick all over with a fork – this allows the steam to escape the inner potato and helps it cook
2. Wrap in wet kitchen paper, just one sheet and place on a microwavable plate
3. Set timer for 10 minutes, and that's it!
However, if you like your potatoes to have a little crispy skin then you can put them into the oven for an additional 15 minutes to crispen it up, adding some olive oil (and possibly sea salt) before you put it in. I tend to put them straight on the wire rack in the oven, not needing a tray or foil or anything.
4. Serving your potato is up to you. Generally it is cut twice, once lengthways and once sideways so it opens up into 4 little parts.
At its simplest you can just add a little bit of butter and eat it like that, but some popular baked potato fillings are:
Chilli con carne
I like to serve mine with a little salad on the side, generally lettuce and some cucumber, but again this is up to you. A baked potato costs between 10p – 30p, your filling will change the approximate meal price, but generally it's a very cheap way to eat.
Between 30p - £1.00 per meal (tuna is expensive)
Pesto pasta with bacon and cheese
This is very easy to cook, and some could argue it's not really proper cooking as it's just adding sauce and bacon to pasta, but still! I think it's absolutely delicious, very filling and very easy. Yours probably won't look quite as smart as this pic, but you get the idea!
Pasta - £1.20 for 1kg
Pesto (green preferably for this recipe) - £1.00 per pot
Slice or two of bacon (value bacon is perfect for this sort of dish) - £1.00 for 670g
Little bit of grated cheese (optional) - £1.80 for 330g
1.Boil the pasta
2.Fry the bacon in the frying pan
3.Cut the bacon into strips/pieces, roughly 1cmx2cm
4.Grate the cheese, the pile should be a little smaller than an egg
5.Once cooked, drain the pasta in the colander and return to the pan
6.Add your green pesto, about a desert-spoonful
7.Add your bacon and cheese
8.Stir thoroughly to make sure it covers all the pasta
Very easy, pretty quick and very tasty.
~70p per meal
You can also buy other types of pesto, there are red pepper pestos, tomato pestos, many different types. They taste great with pasta on its own, but I nearly always like to add a little cheese. Have a play, see what you like! I also like to add spinach to my green pesto dishes, as it shrinks down into nothing and you can hardly taste it, and it is good for you, but this might not appeal to everybody.
Pasta with tuna/cheese sauce
I say tuna/cheese because the basic recipe for the sauce is the same, you just add one or the other at the end.
Pasta - £1.20 for 1kg
1 tin tuna - £3 for 5 tins
OR cheese (cubed) about the size of a credit card, ¾ inch thick - £1.80 for 330g
Plain flour - 58p for 1.5kg
Butter/oil - £1.58 for 1ltr (sunflower oil)
Milk - 89p for 2 pints
1. Put pasta on to boil
2. Using your saucepan use either oil drained from a can of tuna in oil, or about a tablespoon of butter/oil for the cheese sauce
3. Add little spoons of flour to the heated oil, mixing very smoothly (with your wooden spoon) as you go. Add heaped teaspoons at a time
4. Once the flour started to take up all of the oil start to add a litle milk, again add it little by little
[What you're actually making here is a roux, a simple base sauce. It might take a little practice when you first start out to get the amounts right, but once you've cracked it it's a great base sauce to know]
5. Keep gradually adding milk (and possibly some flour) until you have a nice creamy sauce
6. Add your tin of tuna/cheese cubes and continue to stir on heat until you have a smooth tuna/cheese sauce
7. Add herbs/salt and pepper as you wish
8. Drain the pasta and pour into dishes, cover with sauce and serve!
Probably not the most interesting dish in the world, but once you've got the hang of making a roux, it's easy (and fairly quick) to make and pretty tasty. I like to have peas if I make the tuna sauce (probably because I love peas) and it's a good way to get some vegetables into the dish, but the cheese sauce you could also use with cauliflower and potatoes. A good thing to know!
~75p (with cheese) ~£1.05 (tuna)
Also, tins of tuna can be quite expensive, but always keep an eye out for the offers. In ASDA they seem to switch between offereing tuna in brine for £3 or tuna in oil for £3, when the rest of the time it's about £5 or £6 for 5 cans. If it's not on offer, then I would buy it, just because >£1 a tin is quite steep!
New potatoes and tuna sauce
Using the same recipe for the tuna sauce above, instead of servng it with pasta, you can put it over new potatoes in a baking dish, cover with breadcrumbs and bake! Very tasty. I tend to use tinned new potatoes for this, as they're very cheap and can sit in your cupboard for ages without going off.
1 (maybe 2) cans of new potatoes - 49p per medium can
1 tin of tuna (preferably in oil, but brine is okay) - £3 for 5 tins
Flour - 59p for 1.5kg
Milk - 89p for 2 pints
Butter (if tuna is in brine) - £1.10 for 250g
Breadcrumbs (store bought or home made) - 75p for tub
1. Open can of new potatoes and cut into slices between 7 – 10mm thick (approximately! It doesn't really matter how thick or thin you have them, but this is roughly how thick I have them)
2. Lay the potatoes across the bottom of your baking dish, and depending on the size of your baking dish you might need two cans (but then you'll also get a lot more servings from it), but make sure the potatoes evenly cover the bottom of the dish
3. Cover with the tuna sauce you made (same recipe as above)
4. Cover with breadcrumbs (either store bought or home made, or you could substitute for crushed up plain flavour crisps!)
5. Put in the oven at about 180'C for 15 minutes or so. Canned new potatoes will already have been cooked, so all you're doing by putting it in the oven is making sure that everything is heated through, you don't need to worry about making sure it's cooked. But if you use fresh new potatoes, boil them and let them cool before slicing, because just putting raw potatoes in a baking dish for 15 mins probably won't cook them P:
6. Serve up with peas, brocolli or some other veg that you like – easy peasy!
If you have enough money to buy a small baking dish, then I would probably recommend it for this dish, as whilst you can make a large portion of this meal it doesn't freeze too well (unlike shepherd's pie) so I would recommend you refridgerate it after cooking and try to consume within 2 days. But then unless you really like tuna and potatoes you probably don't want to eat this for 3 days straight. So if you could get a small dish maybe 30cm x 40cm it would be best for this particular meal, as you can just make a (large) single serving easily.
~£1.40 per meal (could be split into 2 portions though)
Bangers and mash with onion gravy
A classic British food, very hearty and filling, great in winter!
3 sausages (per person) - £2.99 for 12 sausages
Portion of mash (per person) - 97p for 2kg potatoes
1 onion - £1.50 for 1kg
Gravy granules - 98p for tub
Stock cube (I like to put beef stock in my gravy) - 84p for 10 cubes
1. If you're cooking your mash from the start then you want to do this first, as it's more time consuming, then once the potatoes are simmering start cooking your sausages
2. Cook your sausages, and contrary to what some might believe, it is not hard. The key to cooked through (but not burnt black) sausages is to just keep turning them. They need a lot of attention to make sure you keep turning them and they don't burn, but it pays off when you have a well cooked sausage. If you're grilling your sausages, first prick them with a fork to make sure the skins don't pop, and place them on a wire rack above a baking tray (to catch the fat). Alternatively you can fry them, but you do not need any oil in your pan if they're non stick, as once they start to cook fat starts leaking out of them from all angles, and that's what they'll continue to cook in. But you always need to prick your sausages before cooking them, regardless of your method.
3. Once your sausages and mash are nearly finished cooking, start on the gravy. Chop an onion (size is up to you, I like to cut them into quite thin strips for onion gravy), but a dab of butter in your saucepan and lightly brown the onions.
4. Once the onions are browned briefly remove them from your pan and make up your gravy according to the instructions (I just guestimate it, but if you really have no idea then try the instructions first time around), add the beef stock (if it's a cube I just crumble it over the top), add the onions back to the pan and mix through, keeping on a low heat until ready to serve.
5. To serve put enough mash on your plate, pop your sausages on top (or on the side, it's not like it affects the taste) and cover with your onion gravy!
This is another dish I tend to have peas with, but the choice is yours whether you want to add more veg or not. ~£1.15 per
~£1.15 per meal
Leek and potato soup
Soup is incredibly easy to make, and there are so many different types, it's great to experiment with. Leek and potato is a very easy soup, and one of my favourites, and you will get a lot of portions for very cheap!
2 leeks - ~£1.15 for 2 leeks
3 - 4 fair sized potatoes - 97p for 2kg
Clove of garlic - 30p for a bulb
Onion (optional) - £1.50 for 1kg
Butter - £1.10 for 250g
Milk - 89p for 2 pints
1. Rinse the leeks until a cold tap until clean (depending on where you buy them, there may still be bits of earth on them) and peel away the top layer (or two) of skin, so it's nice and fresh underneath. To cut the leeks, you can either cut them just horizontally so you end up with lots of leek 'rings', or what I like to do is run your knife vertically from one end to the other, the roll the leek 90' over and make the same vertical cut, so you've cut the leeks into quarter circles, then chop horizontally to get the slices. Remember not to chop the entire leek, as the leafy ends tend not to be too tasty.
Actually this lady explains it better [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm6XG...ailpage#t=42s]
2. Chop your onion, crush your garlic, put a knob of butter of in your pan (I would recommend purchasing a large saucepan if you plan to make soup, as it's not worth your while to make soup in single size portions), add leeks, onion and garlic and lightly brown – it should already smell delicious at this point!
3. Turns your pan down to a low heat and let your leeks and onions continue to soften as you peel and chop your potatoes, although if it takes you a long time to peel potatoes maybe you'd be better off peeling them before starting with your leeks. (I like to save my clean potato peelings, drizzle a little olive oil and salt and pepper over them, put them on a baking tray and cook in the oven for ~20 mins, they make a tasty, crispy little snack, and it doesn't waste the potato skins!)
4. Make ~1 pint of vegetable stock, using either cubes or liquid, add your potatoes to the pan and pour the stock over. You want to just about cover the potatoes, if 1 pint doesn't cover it I normally just add a little water from the kettle.
5. Bring the soup up to a near boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, the potatoes should be soaking up most of that stock nicely.
6. Once the potatoes are cooked (taste one!) grab your potato masher and gently mash your soup - you're not actually trying to mash, just gently crush and mix. Hopefully your soup will have a lovely consistency by now, I often find by the time I've done my “mashing” it's a bit too thick for my liking, so I add a little bit of milk until it's just right. Serve in a bowl with some nice buttered bread on the side, job done!
~£2.30 for 4 servings
~57p per meal
Okay that's all for another day, that's 7 recipes down, still got 11 to go. Still to come is:
Chili con carne
Toad in the hole
Thai green curry
Home made pizza
but my hand and eyes hurt right now P: