Lockdown Recipes: Stir Fry Saviour

This is the latest in our series of stress-busting, low cost recipes – perfect for the lockdown, but hopefully also for students on a budget in halls when normal life eventually resumes… Today we have one of our own students contributing.

Hi I’m Emma. I’m a third year history student at the University of Northampton, and my current area is study in life in the eighteenth century. I love to cook when I’m stressed out, so I’ve tried my fair share of recipes.


Having been a student for the last 3 years, I’ve spent my fair share of time searching for cheap and easy meals to make whilst on a student budget, which are still fresh. One of my favourites is a stir fry, a recipe for which is below.

This recipe had been adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe and feeds 2 people. Feel free to switch the chicken for a different meat or a meat substitute, or change the veggies to suit your taste.


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic clove, chopped (or 2 tsp of tubed ‘ squeezy’ garlic)
  • 500g chicken breast, chopped into cubes
  • 1 red pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (Dark of you want a stronger flavour)
  • 60g of other vegetables (this could be green beans, mangetout, sugar snap peas or anything that suits your preference)
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • Noodles (I use ready-to-wok noodles for convenience)


  • Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. If your pan is non-stick, make sure its covered fully as this will helped when it comes to washing up
  • Add your chicken to the pan, and cook until browned all over. The smaller the pieces of chicken, the quicker these will cook
  • Add your thinly sliced pepper to the pan, and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  • Add the soy sauce, chicken stock and your other vegetables to the stir fry. Continue to cook until the chicken is fully cooked, the flesh being white and its juices running clear.
  • Add cooked noodles to the mixture and stir to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!!


This recipe comes in £2.18 per person, so is fantastic when you need a cheap and quick dinner.


Recipes: Tuna Pasta

Following on from Drew’s soup here are a few of my store-cupboard favourites, beginning with Tuna Pasta. No pictures because I’m not cooking this tonight (actually I’m writing this while cooking something else).

I was given this recipe by a mate of mine from southern Italy in halls at university as an undergraduate. I was in self catered halls which was very popular with foreign students because they suspected, correctly of course, that the catering at British universities would be pretty dodgy and they wanted to cook for themselves. It has become my go-to recipe and I always have the ingredients ready in the cupboard.

The sauce serves about 4 people


80g per person of pasta (you can use anything but spaghetti, fusili or orichietta works best)

I can of Tuna Steak (this doesn’t work with fresh tuna)

1 400g can of plum tonatoes

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 brown onion

2 cloves of garlic

dried oregano

salt and pepper to season


  1. Chop the onions into small cubes and crush or chop the garlic
  2. Heat a medium sized saucepan on a medium heat and add the olive oil
  3. Gently fry the onions for 5 minutes until translucent
  4. Add the garlic for 2 minutes more
  5. Add the tuna, turn up the heat, add the oregano and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly
  6. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Boil your pasta according to pack instructions, drain partially and reserve some of the pasta water
  9. Combine the sauce and the pasta and put in some water
  10. Add a small amount of parmesan (this works for fish dishes in small volumes, acting as a seasoning rather than a cheese flavour)
  11. Serve with some homemade garlic bread (lots of recipes online). If you have the funds try it with a soft red such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais

This is the basic recipe but you can add other ingredients such as black olives, anchovies, mushrooms etc into the sauce

Enjoy! more to follow…

Comfort food always helps in a crisis, so here’s a very cheap recipe to keep you going.


Hello everyone.

As we struggle with the uncertainty and disruption to normal life that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought I thought it might be nice to share some basic ways to cope with isolation and a reduction in social interactions.

I am staying at home as much as possible but have stocked up (sensibly, not by panic buying) on the basics for everyday life. I love to cook and have been cooking since my teens but I recognise that quite a few of my students either don’t cook or can’t cook. When you are relying on takeaways and ready meals a crisis like this can look even more daunting.

So, starting today I thought I’d post a series of simple meals that anyone can make (so long as they’ve access to a kitchen that is!). If anyone else from the History team at Northampton wants to get involved and post their own recipes, the more the merrier! Who knows by the end of the crisis we might have enough for our own recipe book 🙂

Today’s is one of the simplest soups know to mankind – leek and potato. It is tasty, healthy, and super easy to make. It will take you 30-45 minutes so within an hour you’ve got a great healthy (and very cheap) lunch or light supper.

Drew’s Leek and potato soup 


You will need: 

One gas or electric hob ring.

A largish saucepan.

a chopping board and sharp knife.

A blender if possible (stick blenders like this one are ideal). NB don’t worry if you can’t blend your soup, it’s lovely as it is. IMG_2961

1 large leek

1 medium sized onion

1 large or 2 medium sized potatoes

About 1 litre of vegetable stock (made by adding boiling water to a veggie stock cube) – you can use chicken stock if you prefer but it won’t be vegan or veggie.

About a tablespoon of olive oil (you can use sunflower or vegetable oil just as well) and/or a large knob of butter. (Butter will make this richer but its not vegan).

Salt and pepper and (if possible) a bay leaf or two (these are easy to get from the shops and last for ages so they won’t go off).

Wash your hands !!!

Ok, to start with peel and roughly chop your onion . It doesn’t have to be too fine. Then slice the leek lengthways and separate the layers. You can now wash it under the tap holding on to the end where the root is. Make sure you get all the dirt out.

Now chop the leek in to slices about 1cm think. Again, don’t be too worried about perfection here!


Finally peel and chop the potato (above) into 1-2cm sized pieces.



You’re now ready to cook. 

Hate the oil and/or butter in the saucepan and quickly add your onion. Don’t have the heat too high, you want to gently soften the onion not burn it. When it is beginning to look a little translucent add the leeks. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until the leeks look nice and soft and have reduced down in the pan. Stir them from time to time so they don’t burn.

Now add the chopped potatoes, stir so everything gets nicely mixed together and pour in the stock.


Add some salt (a large pinch should do it), a grind of black pepper, and a bay leaf or two.


Bring to a gentle boil, turn the hurt down and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

The idea is to make sure everything is cooked, the leeks and onion are soft, and the potato is beginning to break up. Test it with a spoon (right). IMG_2962

The soup is now pretty much ready to eat. You can taste it (be careful it will be very hot – potato really retains its heat – so wait a few minutes) and add some more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

Take out the bay leaf (you can eat them but they aren’t nice to eat!)

At this point you can ladle it in bowls and eat but I prefer it blended so take it away from the heat, let it cool for five more minutes and attack it with a stick blender.

Be careful that the head of the blender is always under the liquid or you will pebbledash your kitchen (and yourself) with hot soup!

Once you’ve blended it for a few minutes it will be mostly smooth but check for escaped potato cubes. If you want to be really fancy you can pass it through a large sieve for super smoothness.


Now all you need is a bowl (or two or three if you are feeding others), a spoon, and perhaps some bread. This recipe will make enough for 3-4 hungry people so you can either eat seconds or let it cool, cover, and keep it in the fridge and have for lunch tomorrow or the next day.



oh, and when you’ve done…wash your hands again.