Cheap & Easy Roast Dinner Ideas for Student Dinners

A roast chicken with orange slices around it

Are you even British if you don’t like a good roast? Chances are, you’ll be missing that routinely prepared Sunday roast being laid before you by your family. University is often the time when people learn how to feed themselves for the first time. This means that something as seemingly daunting as cooking a roast can be off putting. In reality, a roast dinner is very easy to make and the results are spectacular for student dinners. The cost can also be off putting by yourself; with others committed however, it actually works out to be surprisingly cheap. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like a Sunday roast with your mates, you won’t even speak to each other when it’s ready. This is a mixture of my own recipe and more established ones, so experiment and you could further improve the meal.


The Centrepiece

Chicken is delicious when roasted, and is the most cost effective meat to roast too. From retailers such as Aldi, you can get a large chicken for as little as £3.39 which provides enough meat to serve between 4 and 6. I’m going to be a pessimist and say it serves only 4 as then we can use the leftovers after.

The great thing about supermarket meat is that its normally clean and pre-prepared. In order to make it really tasty, we need to further prepare it:

  • Place the Chicken into a baking trey
  • Cut up some onions, lemons and garlic into large chunks
  • Stuff the lemon, garlic and onion inside the chicken until it’s full to the brim
  • Now Sprinkle an ample and even helping salt and pepper onto the outside of the chicken
  • Spread butter all over the skin, this will make it crispier and just better in every way
  • You can experiment further by adding spices like rosemary or thyme to the outer coating or stuffing if you want as well.

First of all, make sure the oven is fully pre-heated. Once you’ve done all this check the packaging of the chicken for cooking times and temperature. You’re going to want to add a couple of extra min to the cooking time to account for all the stuffing. Then simply follow the instructions to cook.

Price Count: Between £5.00 and £6.00 for everything

(£1.25£1.50 between 4 people)


Making the Roasties

The process of making roast potatoes can be really easy.  You can play it even easier and just get some readymade roast potatoes, which cost £2.00 from Sainsbury’s. Admittedly this is the path I take as making roast potatoes from scratch can be tricky. Making mash potato can be a great alternative, with a pack of 4 loose baking potatoes costing half the price at £1.00 from Sainsbury’s.  To make mash you only need to boil and mash with a little milk, it’s incredibly simple. Another alternative would be oven chips. I personally normally have some in the fridge so this saves me some money but for those who don’t a bag of chips can cost as little as £1.00 as well. Follow the instructions on the packets to cook, and you’re good to go. As with everything else, you’re going to have to coincide cooking times with the chicken as that is your main ingredient, so make a plan first.

Price Count: Between £1.00 and £2.00

(£0.25£0.50 between 4 people)


Get Some Green

Any roast is just wrong without a little bit of green on the plate. We’re students though, so I know to keep it minimal. Perhaps the simplest vegetable to make would be peas which you can boil from frozen. Tesco even do an ‘Everyday Value Garden Peas’ 900g bag for just £0.69. Carrots are also a staple of roast dinner and a pack will only set you back £0.45 for 1kg from Tesco too. Preparation for both of these vegetables is little more than boiling in a pot, although you may want to peel the carrots first. You don’t need both of these in a roast although they definitely bring something unique each.

Price Count: Between £0.45 and £1.14

(£0.11£0.29 between 4 people)


Finishing Touches

Gravy. It simply is just essential. Bisto Gravy is also the one to buy and at £1.25 for a near indefinite supply of gravy, it totally is worth it. Yorkshire puddings are life and probably the best part of any roast dinner. You can make them from scratch if you please but otherwise a pack of oven Yorkshires will set you back £0.50 for Sainsbury’s basics to £2.50 for aunt Bessie’s home bake variety. Decide for yourself how much Yorkshires really matter to you when choosing.

Price Count: Between £1.25 and £3.75

(£0.31£0.94 between 4 people)

Total Price Count of Meal: Minimum of £7.70 and a Maximum of £12.89

(£1.93£3.22 between 4 people)


The Aftermath

Once you’re satisfied by the glorious meal that you’ve just consumed, don’t stop there. That roast dinner has got more use in it still. If you have enough leftovers, for the love of god keep them. This is because bubble and squeak is as good, if not better than the roast itself. Essential it’s a chopped up roast cooked into a sort of omelette but in reality it’s a roast cake in my opinion. Essentially put all your diced leftovers into a bowl and stir in more butter, a couple of eggs and season. Then cook it like any omelette, and you can have a slice of it any time of the day. For a more fleshed out recipe check out BBC Goodfood.


*Caution all prices included may change subject to Brexit.

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