Around this time of the year a lot of family members are coming to visit just to see how you’re getting on and see to what the university is like. My brother paid me a visit this week; he got to have a little look around the campus but unfortunately didn’t stay long enough for me to cook for him. I don’t know about you, but the majority of my family members assume that because I am a student that I eat terribly; for example ready meals, takeaways and beans on toast, every night. Although I do eat those things on occasion, I prefer to cook myself a nice meal. So when family members do come to visit I like to try to dazzle them with my culinary skills. The main meals that I would recommend to make that don’t require too much effort yet will still impress them are these:
1. Pasta Bake
This is a beautifully easy dish. Pasta is always a winner with my family. You also have the option to make it just for vegetarians so you can pack it full of vegetables to prove that you eat very healthily and that you are making sure that you are getting your five-a-day.
For this you have so many options. I always like to use Patak’s or whatever the cheaper supermarket equivalent is to it. From this you can get a range of spice and flavours. You also have the options of meat or you can choose to go veggie. You can never go wrong with a classic chicken tikka masala if in doubt. The last one I tried was the Rogan Josh, which was lovely. The great thing about a curry is the additional things that can be added: the poppadums, naan bread, samosas etc.; I could go on for ages. This makes the meal bigger and shows the effort that has gone into it, even if it was just working your timings very well with the oven.
3. Shepherd’s Pie
I chose this as a good meal to do as it can be left in the oven or you could have made the mince filling on another occasion and only had to defrost it. I find that this meal is a big hit with the grandparents; mine haven’t quite got around to spices or foreign food at all so sometimes a classic British meal is a winner. It always reminds me of home too.
4. Stir fry
This is another good one that can be really cheap – you can add loads of vegetables to it to bulk it up if you haven’t got much meat. It can be served with either noodles or egg fried rice. Similar to the curry, the stir fry also has the added bonus of being able to have lots of additions to it, such as prawn crackers, spring rolls, fortune cookies. The plates can fill up quickly.
5. Chicken & Pesto
Although pesto is always thought to be expensive, it can be a pretty reasonable price from Aldi or you might be lucky and get it on offer – or maybe you’re prepared to pay a little bit extra just to treat your family. This is another meal that can be served with lots of vegetables such as peppers and beans. It can also be served with potatoes, rice or pasta; whatever you have the most of in your cupboards.
Edited by Luisa Parnell