Student Advice Service – Money Matters

News from the Student Advice Service at the University of Brighton

Money Week day 1 – cooking and eating well on a tight budget

Welcome to Money Week! To kickstart our week-long campaign of positive money messages, today’s blogs is all about cooking well on a budget, so we have some delicious easy and affordable recipes which we have been tried and tested by the Student Advice team.

The weekly shop can be financially draining and daunting especially if you’re a novice in the kitchen. It’s easy to pick frozen pizzas or ready meals and think that they’re helping you save, but the reality is quite different and you can actually make savings just by planning your meals in advance and only buying what you need and sharing things likes herbs and spices with the people you live with.

In terms of portion sizes, try applying the ‘handful’ rule – grab a handful of each ingredient and see whether or not you think it’s enough. You’ll want to group things like fruit and veg or salad together, the same goes for carbs or protein. One handful of each could be enough for a serving, or if it doesn’t look like enough to you, pile your handful, or make it fit the palm of your hand if you think it’s too much.

Mushroomy Couscous (1 portion)

  • 1 handful of Mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1/3 of a Red Onion
  • 1 handful of Spinach
  • 1 handful of Couscous
  • 1-2 cloves of Garlic
  • A splash of Olive Oil
  • A glug of water (half a mug?)
  • A pinch of Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A pinch of Chili Flakes (optional)
  • Chopped or dried Parsley (optional)
  1. Rinse the mushrooms and peel the onion and garlic
  2. Roughly chop all the veg and garlic veg. If you chop into small pieces it will cook quicker and therefore cost less. If you don’t like red onion, try shallots or standard brown onion
  3. Splash some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and add your garlic, onion, and chilli flakes if you have them. When you can start to smell the onions and garlic cooking, or the onion is starting to become translucent, add the mushrooms. When frying mushrooms, it can be tempting to add more oil as they tend to suck it all up, but don’t worry, when mushrooms are properly cooked they release more liquid.
  4. When the mushrooms look browned, soft and glossy, they are probably cooked. Add the dry couscous and mix it up in the pan so it clings to the mushrooms or red onion. After a couple of seconds, add the water. Remember, you’re not making a soup, and while you can always add more water if you need to, it’s a lot harder to take it out. Now would also be a good time to season your dish, a pinch of salt and pepper is all you need and should be absorbed by the couscous as it soaks into the water.
  5. While the couscous is soaking up the water, add your spinach. You can chop it up or add it whole into the pan. If you add it whole, you want it to wilt and become soft in the water before it’s ready. You can also optionally add some frozen peas now if you have them
  6. Cook the dish until all of the water has been soaked up by the couscous and voila! You can serve it as is, or you can optionally chop some parsley to mix in or garnish the dish with. You have now cooked a delicious, healthy, and quick lunch or dinner for around about £1.

The important thing about this recipe is you can add or subtract ingredients however you choose, eat warm or cold. Eating sustainably isn’t about buying the cheapest ingredients, its about planning your meals and portions, and making simple taste great. Here are some links with extra affordable and easy recipes for the rest of the week, most of which can be adapted to your diet. Enjoy!

Red Lentil & Mandarin Curry

Creamy Gnocchi Bake with Broccoli, Cheddar and Spinach

Quick & spicy nasi goreng recipe

Spicy chicken, rice and peas 

Crustless quiche

Sausage casserole

Make sure you checkout our quiz and spending diary and follow what other universities are doing to support students during money week: #nsmw22

Student Advice Service

budget mealscooking

Helen Abrahams • February 21, 2022

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