Feel like you’re spending half your student loan on takeaways and eating out? This student knows how to recreate your favourite dishes for a fraction of the cost.
Whether you’re struggling with deadlines, short on time, drunk, hungover or just fancy a treat, fast food can be a godsend. A quick bowl of ramen from Wagamama or a tasty chicken box from KFC can be a lot more appealing than cooking at home.
But it can also be expensive! While it’s, of course, okay to indulge every once in a while, it can create a serious dent in your student loan if you’re splurging on pricey food every week.
That’s how 24-year-old London Drama student Rob Eades, came to be known as the Lean Student Chef:
So Rob started cutting back on takeaways and creating his own ‘fast food’ at home for less than £2 per portion – including Southern fried chicken, fish and chips and fajitas.
So how does he do it so cheap? We caught up with Rob to find out exactly how you can make these takeaway classics for a fraction of the price, in your student kitchen and without even getting out of your pyjamas.
Eating on a student budget
There’s no greater feeling than tucking into your favourite meal as a reward for meeting that latest deadline. And while a Nando’s every now and then isn’t going to break the bank, it does all stack up.
It was a love of good food, but a need to save money, that led Rob to try and recreate his favourite restaurant and takeaway dishes at home using cheap ingredients.
It all starts with finding the ingredients in the first place. There are loads of nifty tricks you can use to save some money on your trip to the supermarket, but here are Rob’s top three to get you started:
- Buy in bulk – the more of anything you buy, the cheaper it will be.
- Look at frozen vegetables – they cost at most a third of their fresh counterparts and the nutritional benefits are still exactly the same.
- Always try to have one thing ready to eat in the fridge – this stops you from popping into Sainsbury’s Local on the way home to spend three quid on a single chicken breast.
Once you’ve sorted the ingredients you can start rustling up some quality takeaway replicas – because if Rob has proved anything, it’s that home-cooked dinners don’t have to be boring.
Finding the time to cook
The number one reason most students would give for not cooking proper meals at uni? They don’t have the time.
To be fair, deciding what food you want, buying it and then finding the time to cook it can seem like a drag when you’ve got deadlines and a stonking hangover.
But going that little bit further to cook a more elaborate meal, rather than your usual pesto-pasta combination, isn’t that difficult according to Rob.
So while we think we don’t have time, for just an extra 10 minutes a day you could be rustling up your very own Wagamama-style creation in that giant wok your parents bought for you.
It’s also likely that cooking the food yourself is way quicker than waiting around for takeaway delivery – plus, it’s impossible to concentrate on anything productive when you’re tracking your Domino’s on your phone.
Recreating fast-food classics
So now we’ve got the ingredients down, and found time to actually do some cooking, how do we go about making our favourite meals?
Rob has created a whole load of super easy and simple-to-follow recipes inspired by food from his favourite restaurants and takeaways.
Let’s face it, most students aren’t exactly Michelin-star chefs, and Rob admits he’s certainly no Gordon Ramsay, so his recipes stick to minimal ingredients and easy instructions.
Of course, these dishes aren’t going to be exact replicas of those you crave. But they will cost you a lot less, contain fewer calories and taste pretty good too.
Rob’s recipes have been a huge hit with students, and his blog has garnered such a following that he’s now able to make a bit of extra cash from it.
So if you’re looking for a way to save money on food without living on baked beans for a month, these five fakeaway recipes are a great way to start.
Wagamama-style speedy Chicken Ramen
Fakeaway: £1.96 per portion
When we asked Rob which of his fakeaways is closest to the real deal, he chose his chicken ramen.
Fresh chicken, veggies and noodles in a flavoured broth, it’s difficult to go wrong here.
You might not get the thrill of wondering who’s meal is going to come out first, but you do get some incredibly healthy fast food that you can whip up in super quick time.