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Top of the class: student recipes


‘Easy recipes for home leavers’ is the subtitle of the latest cookbook to be added to ckbk, Sophie Grigson’s Students’ Cookbook. While tastes and preferences may vary – mince or lentils? eggs or aquafaba? – a student menu needs easy, thrifty, healthy, fun dishes using simple techniques. ckbk is full of confidence-boosting recipes for those who may be cooking for themselves for the first time.

Know a student heading off to college? Why not send them a gift subscription to ckbk with 25% off!

Saving lecturing for lectures, we have curated a route through some of the easiest and tastiest dishes that ckbk has to offer the student cook. First class.


Putting the fresh into freshers

Sophie Grigson’s book was first published as part of the now-legendary Sainsbury’s Cookbook Series. This timeless, helpful volume is packed with essential dishes for the novice cook, including a glossary of kitchen techniques, and no-nonsense advice on planning, shopping and preparing ingredients. Standard crowd-pleasing fayre such as Baked Potatoes, Hasselback Potatoes, Glamorgan Sausages, Fried Noodles, Lentil Salad, Ratatouille, and pasta including Spaghetti Carbonara and Macaroni Cheese all await.

Some of the more unusual dishes are equally as easy, such as Cheese Strata, basically a savoury bread and butter pudding. Or try Fish with Citrus Fruit en Papillote (a delicious parcel of fish), Trout Plaki (a Greek dish of fish baked in a garlicky tomato sauce) or Bobotie (a South African dish that perks up mince with curry powder). Grigson has some handy advice for cooking for a crowd: “Above all don't be over-ambitious: remember that the main point of the event is to get together and enjoy each other's company.”

French Bread Pizzas, Chicken Cassoulet and Vegetable Couscous are all on Grigson’s menu for hosting, and depending on your budget the ckbk Chicken Tray Bakes collection also has more options for easy entertaining.

Thrifty student classics

Michele Cranston’s book A Simple Table is full of easy, yet impressive dishes to try, including the student staple, Chilli con Carne. A tradition of Cranston’s is to serve her chilli in a cup at parties – an helpful hack if your student kitchen is short of plates! (For a vegan alternative, try Sue Quinn’s Smoky Three Bean Chilli.) Lentils might be a bit of a student cliché, but they are cheap, nutritious and surprisingly versatile. Try the ckbk Luxurious Lentils collection for some ideas, or for a deep-dive into the merits of the mighty lentil, we recommend Ghillie Basan’s The Lentil Cookbook.

Soup is kind on the wallet and can be a useful way to use up leftovers, or random bits of veg lurking in the fridge. There are five ckbk books specialising in soup available – from the esteemed Cordon Bleu Home Collection to Lindsey Bareham’s Good Soup Book, another title from the Sainsbury’s Cookbook Series. With a homemade loaf of bread and a salad, a hearty soup goes a long way in a student house. Try the ckbk 12 Simple Breads for Beginners collection for some enticing ideas, including (appropriately) Lesson 1: Your First Loaf of Bread from former science teacher, now baking guru, Josey Baker. 

Bread in a tin

Lesson 1: Your First Loaf of Bread from Josey Baker Bread. Baker says: “Don’t be a weenie; you have everything you need to do this. You don’t need any fancy anything—just flour, water, yeast, and salt.”


You can do it

Canned food is your friend and it’s worth stocking your store-cupboard up with some staples at the start of term. Canned tomatoes are useful for so many dishes. Along with tinned anchovies, add them to Valentina Harris’s La Puttanesca pasta. There are even more ideas in the ckbk 16 Ways with Canned Tomatoes collection. Tinned chickpeas are a great addition to curry – Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa Spinach and Chickpea Curry we’re looking at you – or stir some into a salad, such as Prue and Peta Leith’s delicious vegetarian salad.


Spinach and Chickpea Curry by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa from Taste Tibet.


Nisha Katona’s Oozy Tuna and Apple Pasta Bake is one to bookmark for making the most of tinned food. Katona says: “this recipe breathes new life into canned tuna, canned tomatoes and dry pasta, making it a great option when the fridge is bare”. An ode to tinned sweetcorn, Lucy Cufflin’s Sweetcorn Fritters is another one to go to back to.

Cooking for one

Signe Johansen’s Solo celebrates the wholesome joy of cooking for one. In the book she writes about how cooking is “an act of kindness to yourself, that nourishes both mind and body”, a rallying cry to get us all making more of an effort when no one else is watching.


Johansen continues with some helpful advice for the novice cook: “a good cook always has a well-stocked store-cupboard or larder (or whatever you want to call it). Why? It means you can grab ingredients on the run – perhaps a source of protein and greens or herbs – and cook something simple using a handful of condiments, spices, pastes. In other words: the odds and sods you have already in the kitchen.”

Her book’s “one pan wonders” include Simple Roasted Salmon, Baked Sweet Potato with Feta, Herbs and Tomatoes and Roast Cauliflower with Chilli, Garlic and Thyme, as well as weeknight suppers like Baba Ganoush and Tabbouleh. While tinned fish takes centre stage in Spicy, Garlicky, Lemony, Herby Sardines on Toast.

There are so many mouth-watering dishes to discover on ckbk, whatever your tastes or indeed your budget. Head to the homepage of the website and search for your favorite recipe, ingredient, style of dish or cooking technique to start your ckbk journey. Don’t forget to share your cookery experiences with other members of the ckbk community with our star ratings, reviews, questions and answers, and private notes.

A selection of ckbk’s student-friendly recipes

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