Being able to cook is an important life skill; it teaches patience, how to follow instructions, how to learn from mistakes and how effort can produce rewards. Whether you want to teach your child some basic recipes, so they can fix themselves an after school snack, or you’re waving your child off to university, we hope the following recipes will help in inspiring your adolescent to learn how to cook some healthy and inexpensive meals.

—Emma Drake

Pasta Sauces

Creating a tomato sauce and a basic white sauce from scratch is a great culinary skill to perfect at a young age and will no doubt impress new friends at university! Both sauces can appear daunting to make but are in fact very simple to throw together, and they provide the basis for many classic dishes such as soups, curries, lasagne, eggplant parmesan, bolognese and casseroles. For an easy and delicious meal just pour a white or tomato sauce over some freshly cooked pasta and vegetables, sprinkle with cheese and voilà.

For variations on the white sauce recipe consider adding cheese for a yummy cheesy sauce, parsley, or even lemon and sugar to create an alternative to custard.

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Tomato Sauce

Making a homemade tomato sauce from scratch is surprisingly easy! Use it on pasta, pizza, and more. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 mins. Yield: 5-6 servings.

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Whitw sauce 1

White Sauce

This basic white sauce, also known as béchamel, is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.

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Helpful Tip

Consider buying your university student a blender. They are a useful tool to have on hand when creating healthy dishes and you can find options to suit all budgets.

Baked Potatoes

A student staple, the baked potato is a tasty, filling and affordable option. When eaten with the skin on, a baked potato offers vitamins C and B as well as a good amount of fibre. Choose from white, purple or sweet potatoes.

Great filling options include chilli, grated cheese, sour cream, ratatouille, tuna, bacon and baked beans.

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Baked Potatoes

A quick and appetising meal that will give you at least one of your five a day! Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

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Chilli Con Carne

This recipe is easy to make, delicious and ideal for a time-strapped student in search of a filling meal. Perfect for serving on top of a baked potato or with rice – add sour cream and avocado for an extra punch of flavour. Freeze any leftovers in individual portions to have throughout the week. For vegetarians, simply remove the mince or replace with a meat substitute such as Quorn.

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Chilli Con Carne

This comforting and filling recipe for Classic Chili Con Carne is a healthy and delicious meal. It’s great for freezing, as well as sharing with friends and family. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

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Teaching your teenager how to make a hearty bowl of soup using whatever vegetables they have in the fridge, or can find at the farmers market, is a brilliant and inexpensive way to help your children confidently feed themselves. Soups also freeze really well.

Vegetable soup

Vegetable Soup

Not only is this soup delicious but and it’s so easy to make. It just takes some chopping and a bit of simmering until you’ve got a soup everyone will love! Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Yield: 2 bowls of soup.

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Pea soup

Minted Pea & Spinach Soup

A simple soup that is big on flavour. It’s quick and easy to make and a guaranteed hit with family and friends. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

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Savoury & Sweet Pizzas

Cut down on takeaway bills by teaching your adolescent how to make pizzas from scratch. Making your own pizzas is a great way to spend an evening with friends – you can even turn it into a competition; the person with the most creative pizza wins!

To make things even easier, we have come up with a two-ingredient pizza dough base that even novice cooks will be able to master. Give it a go with both savoury and sweet toppings!

Helpful Tip

Use this Tomato Sauce Recipe for the base of your savoury pizza.

Pizza dough

Pizza Dough

Make your own foolproof pizza crusts or bases using just two ingredients- Self-rising flour and Greek yogurt! It is easy to adapt this recipe to for vegan and gluten-free friends. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 mins. Yield: 4 servings.

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Savoury Pizza

Use the dough ball recipe and tomato sauce recipe to help you make a delicious pizza in a flash. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10-20 minutes. Yield: 4 pizzas.

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Nutella pizza

Nutella Pizza

Nutella pizza is one of the most delicious things in this world and it is incredibly easy to make. Perfect for sharing with friends. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10-15 minutes. Yield: 4 pizzas.

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Sweet Treats

Help your university students impress their new friends with the ability to rustle up a few delicious treats. Try one of these simple desserts full of yummy but inexpensive ingredients.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

This no-fail recipe makes the best moist and tastiest banana bread you will find! Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 35-45 minutes.

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Healthier Flapjacks

A healthier but still delicious version of traditional flapjacks. Perfect for sharing with friends. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes. Yield: 12 slices.

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Essential Cooking & Shopping Tips

  • Twice a week chop up fruit and vegetables and store in a Tupperware container in the fridge. This is great for quick snacks or to add to a recipe when you’re in a rush or feeling lazy! Good options include onions, carrots, broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms and for fruit, strawberries, melon and pineapple.
  • Buy frozen vegetables; they have the same goodness as fresh vegetables but are often cheaper and avoid unnecessary waste. They are great for adding to pastas and stir fry dishes.
  • Go food shopping with friends so you can take advantage of BOGOF (Buy one get one free) deals in supermarkets – this is a great money saver.
  • Check out the local farmers market where you’ll probably be able to get some great deals on meat and vegetables.
  • Write a shopping list before venturing into the stores to reduce aimlessly strolling through every aisle and picking up items you don’t really need.

Helpful Tip

If your child is off to university in the UK and has shown an interest in cooking then consider a five day intensive course at a culinary school such as The Orchards School of Cookery. The course is designed to boost confidence and develop students’ culinary skills and knowledge of cooking, giving them the ability, inspiration and enthusiasm to whip up delicious, affordable meals for flatmates, family and friends. Prices start at £895.