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Budget Student Recipes

by Robyn Tichauer

One of the hardest parts about having to fend for yourself is having to cook for yourself. We give you easy and tasty student recipes that won’t break the budget.

You’ll figure this out for yourself pretty quickly, but you’re generally pretty spoilt living at home and not having to purchase your own groceries and cooking it. Once you’re in university and having to fend for yourself, you’ll realise that living on a budget is tough and eating 2-minute noodles at every meal is not ideal.

Here at EduConnect, we understand that. Which is why we set up a list of recipes for you to try out and indulge in. We make these recipes at the office, and believe us when we say: It’s fan-freaking-tastic.

Here are EduConnect’s original, all-time favourite recipes:

  • Basic Mince Mixture

This the mince mixture we’re talking about in all the recipes.


• One onion finely chopped

• 500g mince (or less if you’re one, or cook in bulk)

• 1 tin of chopped and peeled tomatoes

• Tomato paste • Salt and pepper

• Mixed herbs

• Sugar

Here’s how you make it:

  • Fry up the onion in some olive oil. Once cooked, add the mince and cook until brown
  • Add in the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs and sugar. Let it simmer a while. (Simmering is like little happy bubbles, boiling is big angry bubbles)
  • Taste to make sure the acid taste of the tomatoes is gone, if it isn’t, add more sugar.
  • Let it simmer until you’re ready to eat or to use as a filling.
  • Peanut Butter Bomb


Peanut butter. Need we say more? This is our homemade version of the infamous peanut butter bomb taking over smoothie menu’s and really hits the spot.


• 1 cut up banana

• 2 tbs plain yoghurt

• Heaped tbs peanut butter

• 300 ml milk


• 1 tsp coffee in a mug with hot water

• 1 scoop protein powder (for the gym junkies)

• 2-4 cubes of ice

Here’s how you make it:

Chuck it all into a blender and blitz until a smooth concoction appears. Enjoy the heavenly smells of peanut butter and coffee. Yum, it’s taste bud adventure.

  • Boerewors Pastry

It may sound a bit strange at first, but this is amazing. We can’t really describe the full extent of this awesome flavour, so try it yourself.


  • 1 pack boerewors or cheese grillers
  • 2 rolls of puff pastry (softened)
  • Caramelised onion
  • Sweet chilli cream cheese[/su_spoiler]

Here’s how you make it:

  • Preheat oven to 180.
  • Cook the boerewors in a pan or grill it (healthier option). Caramelise an onion (onion and butter until it goes a golden colour). Do not unroll the pastry, we’ll do that as you put the sausage in.
  • Guesstimate how much pastry you will need to completely wrap a sausage and onion, in the middle of your guesstimated size, smear on a thick layer on sweet chilli cream cheese.
  • Place the sausage on top of that and the onion around the sausage. Enclose the boerewors centre with the puff pastry. Do this until the pastry or boerewors is done. They can be any length, so long ones for the hungry or small ones for entertaining.
  • Bake them for about 20minutes. Just keep a close eye on them, they can turn on you in an instant and burn.


  • Couscous Chicken Salad

This recipe is super versatile. You can substitute the chicken with tuna or bacon and the veggies can also be switched and swapped.


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • Chicken
  • Tomatoes
  • Feta
  • Basil pesto
  • Rocket

Here’s how you make it:

  • You can pretty much chuck whatever you want to into a couscous salad. It just needs a few key ingredients to make it scrumptious.
  • Take 1 cup of couscous to two cups of boiling water (always use 2 to 1 ration of water and couscous). Mix them together in a bowl and wait for the water to be absorbed. It’s pretty quick.
  • Fry up the chicken or grill it. You can use bacon or tuna, whatever meat filler you’d like. Or leave meat out for a veggie friendly option.
  • Add basil pesto and feta to ensure top tasting salad. Tomatoes always add a fresh crunch and some rocket adds brilliant flavour. Add anything else you’d like.

Couscous salad is your cooking playground. Get creative.


  • Quiche

This was just recently introduced to us. There’s no turning back once you’ve tasted this.


  • 1 x puff pastry
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • half block of any cheese, grated(but cheddar works well for low budget)
  • whatever you want to put in (make sure it’s nothing too soggy)

Example: Mushrooms, bacon, veggies, ham, feta, tuna, baby marrow.

Here’s how you make it:

  • Beat eggs and milk and then pour over the ingredients in the pastry shell. Add more milk if needed. Cover with grated cheese.
  • Line a dish with the pastry, stab it a few times with a fork. (This makes sure no bubbles form)
  • Fry up the inner ingredients and leave until completely cold(put in frdge for best results)
  • Add the cold inner ingredients, drain it beforehand if there is a lot of liquid in the ingredients.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, keep an eye on it. The pastry must be crispy and brown and the cheese must be browned too.
  • Napoletana Pasta

The thought of this pasta makes my mouth water. This is a must try and will be a great hit if you have friends over for dinner.


  • Finely chopped onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • mixed herbs or thyme
  • Finely chopped Garlic
  • tomato paste
  • Fresh or canned tomato(more sauce) finely chopped
  • Bacon (leave out for a veggie option)
  • Mushroom
  • Butter
  • garlic
  • 100ml pouring cream
  • Pasta ( 1 packet for four people)

Here’s how you make it:

  • Fry up the finely chopped onion with a decent amount of olive oil. Immediately add salt and some mixed herbs (substitute for thyme for another yummy taste).
  • Once the onions have browned, add in the garlic and tomato paste. Let cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add fresh or canned tomatoes and let simmer.
  • In a separate pan fry up the diced bacon, when that’s cooked fry the mushrooms in butter, salt and garlic.
  • Add the bacon and mushrooms to the tomato mixture and let simmer.
  • 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, put the pasta on to cook and add in some pouring cream to the tomato sauce.
  • Butternut with Feta

(You can use pepper or squash as an alternative to butternut)

Butternut and feta always make a great combination. So we stuffed the feta into the butternut for a taste bud delight


  • 1 butternut (with the top cut off and the yucky seed part removed)
  • 2 blocks of feta
  • Mince mixture (optional, leave it out for a veggie friendly option)
  • Cheese grated on top

Here’s how you make it:

First thing’s first. Butternut does not come pre-chopped in packets. Our parents buy that because it’s easier than chopping up a butternut yourself. It’s a definite workout to peel and chop one. You can actually buy them whole.

  • Take your whole butternut and cut off the top. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy parts. (Try not to take too much of the butternut out).
  • The mince mixture is optional, you could just add a tomato based sauce if you want some extra flavour.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients into the centre of the butternut.
  • Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Wrap the whole thing in foil.
  • Pop into the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  • Wraps

We have this at least once a week. It’s easy to make, healthy and yummy. The best of all worlds.


  • Tortilla wrap or Roti (these come in fours or sixes, so it could be a few meals. Freeze them so that they don’t get stale)
  • Meat filling of choice. We usually make chicken.
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Jalapeno Humus or Sweet Chilli cream cheese
  • Grated cheese

Here’s how you make it:

  • This is a free for all to choose. All you need is a tortilla or roti and you can fill it with anything your heart desires and your stomach craves.
  • Heat the wrap up for 15 seconds. Spread your cream cheese or humus on. Then pile the rest of the fillings in.
  • If it doesn’t close, don’t worry. We can’t get it to close either. Just use a knife and fork.
  • Spicy Potatoes

These are amazing. It’s really easy to overeat on these.


  • Potatoes (2-3 per person)
  • Spice of choice: I use a little bit of cayenne pepper, potato or chicken spice.
  • Olive oil

Here’s how you make it:

  • Preheat the oven to 180.
  • Cut as many potatoes as you need into wedges, with the skin on.
  • Sprinkle with chicken/potato/roast spice, pepper and a little bit of cayenne pepper.
  • Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat all of the wedges and pop in the oven for about 45 minutes, depending on the amount and how crispy you like it.
  • Wrap Pizzas

A meal you could easily become addicted to.


One tortilla wrap for one person

  • Tomato paste
  • Cheddar cheese. The more the merrier.

You can use any toppings, here’s what EduConnect likes:

  • Bacon
  • Mushroom
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Chilli

Here’s how you make it:

  • Take wrap and put on metal tray, tomato paste along wrap.
  • Add a layer of cheddar cheese.
  • Put your chosen toppings on and finish it off with another layer of cheese.
  • Bake at 200 degrees for 10-15min. Keep an eye on it.

Yum-mo Recipes

Special Edition: Recipes from the lovely cook, Carina Truyts herself, taken from her student cookbook Yum-mo.  

  • Spaghetti carbonara

Feeds 4, 0r 3 ravenous people


  • 300g spaghetti
  • 1 packet (250g) bacon
  • 2 cups (500ml) grated Cheddar or Gouda cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Here’s how you make it:

  • To get the pasta going faster, pour a little water in a pot, get it going on the highest heat, and boil the kettle in the meantime. Once it’s boiled, add to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon (15ml) salt, and the spaghetti, pushing all the strands in once the bottom pieces have softened
  • Cut the bacon into pieces and trim off any excess fat (unless you like it). Place the bacon pieces in a cold non-stick frying pan, then bring up to high heat. Cook until done.
  • Make sure your cheese is grated, and whisk your eggs together.
  • When you strain it, leave about 1 tablespoon (15ml) water in the pot (this helps make it creamy).
  • Immediately add the whisked egg to the pasta, and stir. The hot pasta will cook the egg. Add the bacon, too, and then the cheese. Lastly add the parsley and season with loads of black pepper and salt. NB! You have to do this last part quickly, so that the eggs cook and the cheese melts. So have everything ready by the time the pasta is cooked.
  • Simple rosemary pork chops

Feeds 4-6


  • dash of oil for frying
  • few pork chops (1 per person should suffice)
  • 1-2 teaspoons (15-30ml) flour
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

Here’s how you make it:

  • Get a large non-stick frying pan hot over medium-high heat, and heat the oil. It’s essential that the pan is properly hot, otherwise the chops will just lie in the fat and become greasy.
  • Cut the fat off the chops. Place the flour, a bit of salt and pepper, and the rosemary on a plate. Dust the chops lightly in the flour mixture, and then shake off the excess flour.
  • As you dust them, place them straight onto the hot pan (try not do more than 2 at a time) and fry for about 3 minutes on each side. They should be nice and brown, and cooked through.
  • Test them by cutting through the meat to look inside. While some people don’t mind their pork chops a little pink, you might want to cook them all the way through.
  • Lovely served with a saucy couscous, or plain with mayonnaise and some steamed broccoli or green veg.
  • Chocolate mug of glory

A quickie dessert to satisfy your sweet cravings at 2am.

Serves 4


  • 1/4 cup (60ml) flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) cocoa powder – you can replace 7.5ml cocoa with coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) water -if you’re feeling adventurous you can swap half of the water with liquor
  • pinch of salt

Here’s how you make it:

  • Place all the ingredients in a mug or cereal bowl and stir really well, getting the bottom bits in. It helps if you do the dry ingredients first. The mixture should look like a thick chocolate paste.
  • Microwave the whole shebang at full power for about 1 minute. If your microwave is weak, it make take a few seconds longer, you’ll have to check. Eat immediately.

Here are some general tips to help you in the kitchen:

  • In case of a burn: immediately put the wounded area under cold, running water. For more severe burns apply lotion containing aloe vera  or go to the pharmacy so that they can advise you.
  • Keep an eye out for specials at all supermarkets, save coupons and get the benefit cards, like the Smart Shopper from Pick n Pay.
  • Freeze the bread you use for toast. Mind you, it’s tricky to finish a loaf of bread by yourself before it goes stale.
  • Invest in a decent quality non-stick pan. It’ll save you a lot of time washing it and extreme frustration.
  • Cook up a storm and divide it into portions to freeze so that you have meals you can warm up when things get busy.
  • Some basic spices you need that’ll make any meal a little more exciting: salt, pepper, origanum, paprika, mixed herbs, chicken spice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, fresh or dried garlic
  • Instead of opting for 2-min Noodles when you want a quick meal or are low on funds, stock up on eggs at the beginning of the month and make scrambled or fried eggs for a nutritious and quick meal.
  • For the health conscious: substitute butter or oil for spray-n-cook if you have a non-stick pan.
  • Buy long-life milk, it lasts longer and you can store it in the cupboard. That way you won’t have to rush off to the shop at 2am.
  • Below is an image with advice on where to store your fruit and veg for their best chances of lasting longer.


EduConnect 2cents

Now that you’ve been equipped with some basic meals you don’t need to overdo the 2-minute noodles. A great idea would be to go to Food Lover’s on a Wednesday. They have some cool R25 specials and the food you get could last for 2 weeks or more. The Internet is also packed with cheap recipes that are easy to make. Have fun with cooking and enjoy our EduConnecty recipes!

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