Just about everyone can cook, even those who think they can’t. It takes a little practice, and there might be a few culinary disasters along the way, but with some perseverance you’ll soon be cooking up a storm. Making meals for yourself can be a cheap, easy, and healthy way of eating - here are some super simple recipes to get you started.
We’ve chosen recipes that cater to various dietary requirements and each uses simple, easily acquired ingredients that won’t cost the world. For most recipes, you’ll also need salt, pepper and olive oil.
Prawn Linguine (serves 2)
Ingredients: 1 onion (chopped), 2-3 garlic cloves (crushed), one fresh chilli (finely chopped), raw peeled prawns 150g, 400g tomato passata, 150g linguine, 1 tbsp dried parsley, ½ a lemon.
- Heat 1tsp of olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the onion until soft, around two minutes. Add the crushed garlic and chilli (remove chilli seeds if you don’t like spicy food).
- Add the tomato passata and stir well. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Cook the linguine in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain once cooked.
- Stir the prawns and parsley into the tomato sauce and cook until the prawns are pink.
- Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Add the cooked linguine, toss and serve.
Alterations: Swap out the prawns for Quorn chicken pieces or a similar vegetarian/vegan substitute.
Baked potato (serves 2) (vegan)
Ingredients: 2 large potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edward or Marfona are all good types for baking), margarine, olive oil, salt.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Wash and dry the potatoes. Prick them with a fork in several places. Pour some olive oil onto the potato and rub it in. Rub in some sea salt so it sticks to the oil. Place on an oven shelf and bake for 1½ hours until golden brown and crispy.
- Make a cross in the centre of each potato. Add butter, salt, pepper and your choice of filling.
Alterations: For fillings, just about everything goes: cheese, beans, grilled vegetables, tuna, salsa and more.
Mushroom risotto (serves 4) (vegetarian)
Ingredients: 1 onion (finely chopped), 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped), 150g Arborio rice, 250g mushrooms (chopped), 500 ml vegetable stock, 50g parmesan cheese (grated), 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp dried parsley
- Fry the onions in olive oil over a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic, butter and rice and stir well for one minute. Add the mushrooms and stir well.
- In the meantime, prepare the stock as per packet instructions. Add a third of the stock to the pan and turn up to medium-high. Stir well and gradually add more stock once the pan runs out.
- Once all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is soft and creamy, stir in the parmesan and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Alterations: Add peas and goats cheese just after you add the last of the stock. If you want meat too, add some cooked ham with the parmesan and parsley.
Chickpea curry (serves 2) (vegan)
Ingredients: 1 onion (chopped), 1 garlic clove (crushed) ½ tsp cumin powder, ¼ tsp coriander powder, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ¼ tsp red chilli powder, 1 tomato (chopped), 400g tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 5cm/2in piece root ginger (grated), pinch of garam masala. Serve on rice or with pitta.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan/wok and fry the onions and garlic until the onions are brown.
- Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilli powders and ¼ tsp of salt. Mix for a minute and add the tomato. Cook until the sauce thickens.
- Add 4 tbsp of water and stir. Stir in the chickpeas and mash a few for texture. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the ginger and pinch of garam masala. Cook for one more minute and serve with rice or pitta.
Alterations: Add creamed coconut (50g), one fresh chilli, and 1tbsp of tomato puree for a richer curry sauce.
Pancakes (serves 3-4) (vegetarian)
Ingredients: 135g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp vanilla essence (optional) 2 tbsp caster sugar, 130ml milk, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 2 tbsp melted butter
- Sift the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and ½ tsp salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Melt the butter and whisk in.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth batter and let stand for a few minutes.
- Heat some more butter in the pan, add a ladleful of batter to the pan. When the top bubbles, turn over the pancake and cook until both sides are golden brown. Repeat.
Alterations: For toppings, try maple syrup, Nutella, honey, fresh fruit, yoghurt, and more.