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Nine store cupboard staples to take to uni

Whether you arrive as budding chef or kitchen novice, university will teach you a lot about cooking on a budget. These handy tips will make sure you stock up on all the right student staples – and give you the know-how to make the most of them.

  1. Oats

    Oats are cheap to buy in bulk, yet open the doorway to endless breakfast possibilities. Mix up your own muesli, make your own healthy granola, cook up a hearty bowl of porridge, get ahead with some yogurt-soaked overnight oats, or even bake up a batch of flapjacks to fuel you through the day. 

  2. Pesto

    One of the quickest ways to add flavour to a bowl of pasta is with a dollop of pesto, simply stir through while hot for dinner or leave to cool as a pasta salad for lunch. You could also try spreading pesto in a sarnie, swirling into hot soups, spooning onto jacket potatoes, drizzling over salads, or making a pesto-topped pizza for a weekend treat. If you have time, try making your own homemade pesto with this easy recipe (just remember to store fresh pesto in the fridge). To get the most out of this handy little jar, take a look at our Make the most of green pesto tips, then get cooking!

  3. Pulses

    Stocking up on pulses, such as lentils and beans, means that you can bulk out your meals easily and cheaply – making more expensive meats and fresh vegetables go further. Tinned pulses don't need to be soaked or pre-cooked, so are great for chucking into a spicy chilli, blitzing into veggie burgers or mixing into salads. For a tasty snack to share, give these nachos with spicy pinto beans a go.

  4. Eggs

    Eggs are often seen as the starting point for mastering basic cooking skills as they're so versatile. Start simple with boiled, poached, fried or scrambled eggs with toast for breakfast, then try baking hearty frittatas and perfect omelettes for lunch. Also essential for baking, it's always good to have a pack of eggs on standby. Cookies are a simple and delicious baking recipe to begin with, so take a look at our 10 Best Cookie Recipes for inspiration or impress your housemates at breakfast with this bubble and squeak with poached egg recipe - ready in just 30 minutes!

  5. Tomatoes

    Chopped, passata and purée – having all three in your cupboard is a must. You'll need these for your favourite pasta sauces, to make a classic lasagne or Bolognese, or for something like this hearty chicken and tomato curry. For a near-instant dinner, spread tomato purée onto a tortilla or pitta, add cheese and you’ve got yourself a cheat's pizza.

  6. Coconut milk

    Curries, desserts and even smoothies can benefit from the creamy taste of coconut, especially if looking for dairy-free alternatives. If you have any leftover from your recipes, you can freeze it ready for another time. Try adding a tin to this speedy Thai green curry or if feeling adventurous, learn how to make your own Thai green curry paste from scratch.

    Coconut milk
  7. Soy sauce

    Mastering the art of a stir-fry is a student staple. Chop and chuck all your ingredients into a wok, cook until tender and season with soy sauce. Try this speedy prawn noodle stir fry to get you started. Another delicious, soy-based recipe is Bang Bang Chicken noodle stir-fry, packed with lots of veg and masses of flavour from garlic, chilli, soy and lime - ready to enjoy in just 35 minutes! Or why not have a go at this sticky soy and rum-glazed salmon with wedges and chilli greens, great for the barbecue or treating Dad on Father’s Day.

    Soy sauce
  8. Chickpeas

    Studying hard and need something to perk you up? Try blitzing a can of chickpeas into houmous. It only takes a few minutes and is perfect for dunking chopped carrots or crunchy tortilla chips. If you're after something a little more substantial, try pan-frying this simple mackerel with citrus chickpeas, served with a fresh and zesty chickpea salad, or for a self-serving party treat that'll have your guests talking, this recipe for spiced, honey-roast chickpeas and seeds is ready in only 30 minutes!

  9. Chocolate

    Perhaps not a staple, but as much as uni is about powering through your studies, it's also about sharing delicious meals with your housemates. Having some dark chocolate or cocoa powder in the cupbaord means you can whip up a sweet treat or dessert when you have something to celebrate. This no-bake chocolate fridge cake is a doddle to make or use the microwave for these super-quick chocolate brownies. For a cosy night in front of the telly, try the ultimate homemade hot chocolate