A bit of winter baking anyone?

Mince pies are a festive favourite for many and are super simple to make.


200g plain flour

100g butter or dairy free alternative

1 medium egg

1 jar of mincemeat

Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/190C Fan/Gas 6.

  2. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture is a bit crumbly.

  3. Mix in a beaten egg yolk and until it forms soft dough. Wrap in cling film or put it into a plastic bag and chill for 20–30 minutes.

  4. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2–3mm and cut out about small rounds with a pastry cutter.

  5. Place in lightly greased bun tins and spoon the mincemeat evenly into the pies.

  6. Re-roll the leftover pastry and cut out round lids, stars, stripes or other festive shapes to fit on top of the mincemeat.

  7. Lightly brush the pastry tops with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until golden.

  8. Leave to cool and then enjoy!

Food Waste Action Week Challenge – Adam

The Challenge: To prepare three meals a day for the next five days on a budget of no more than £15.

Hi, I am Adam, and I normally spend around £30 on groceries a week. This challenge meant that I had to reduce that to half. Probably the best piece of advice to start with is planning. A meal plan with a shopping list makes the whole process much more efficient. It minimises the number of times you need to go shopping, reduces the time you spend there, prevents you from buying unnecessary things, and helps you save money. You will also not have any leftovers that you would have to throw away.

Every Sunday, therefore, I try to plan my weekly meal plan. With this challenge, it was basically essential.

Once the plan was done, I wrote down things I needed. For the list, I use the NOSH book app. I genuinely recommend buying a cookbook as it really helps with ideas on what to cook. NOSH is also very student-friendly, and it comes with an app in which you can browse recipes and automatically add everything to a shopping list. The ‘Broke but hungry’ chapter of this book with affordable recipes was particularly useful for this challenge.

With the shopping list done, it was time to head to Sainsbury’s to do the shopping. My tip here is to use their Smart Shopping app that not only makes the shopping more efficient because you can scan as you go with your phone, but it also helps you to save money as you get some personalised discounts with your Nectar account.

When shopping, my tip would be to look for reduced stuff. Things like bread that can be frozen can often come at a fraction of the price. Another tip is to look at the bottom shelf for cheaper brands or own-label products. Marketers often put the products that are premium or have the highest margin on the eye level, leaving the more affordable brands at the bottom. Also, fresh vegetables can be quite expensive so look out for the Imperfectly tasty series that is more affordable.

<-This is what my shopping looked like at the end.

Note: As I was not able to use any things I had at home, I had to include the cost of things like oil, salt, curry powder, pasta and rice – things that last for longer once you buy them so shall I continue the challenge the next week, I could buy more different products.

With the shopping done, it was time to start cooking.

Day 1



Ingredients: Milk, Oats, Peanut butter, Banana

1.     Combine some milk and oats, and simmer until it thickens. Remove from heat.

2.     Add sliced banana, a spoon or two of peanut butter, and your breakfast is ready. You could use plant-based milk too!



Ingredients: 4 medium diced potatoes, 400g baked beans, Oil, Cheddar cheese, Ketchup (optional)

1.     Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and squash them a little with a fork. Do not mash them.

2.     Stir in the beans.

3.     Heat some oil in a frying pan and tip the mixture in. Don’t stir, allow it to dry and brown on the bottom. Once browned, using a spatula, stir all the browned bits up from the bottom, leave again to allow the rest to brown. Stir in the browned bits again.

4.     Serve with some cheese on top and optionally add ketchup.



Ingredients: a mug of rice, 4 eggs, 3 chopped spring onions, half of the pepper, chopped carrot, soya sauce

  1. Cook rice and let it cool.
  2. In a wok, heat some oil and on high heat stir-fry 2 spring onions, carrot, and pepper for 2 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir-fry for another minute.
  4. In the meantime, fry eggs in a separate pan.
  5. Add soya sauce to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  6. Serve the rice and put the fried eggs on the top. Add some finely chopped onion on top. You can add some more soya sauce if needed.

Day 2:



  1. Put some slices of cheese on to bread and put in the oven.
  2. Allow to melt
  3. Add some fresh tomato and spring onion on top





Day 3:





Ingredients: Oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, Freshly grated ginger, ½ teaspoon, Curry powder, ½ x 400g can tomatoes, 2 tablespoons coconut milk, 400 g tin of chickpeas

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Stir frequently. Once brown, add the ginger and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

Note: the leftover coconut milk can be used to make some sauce



Day 4:



This was the same as before, but I added two fried eggs.




Ingredients: 300g of spaghetti, Cream cheese, ½ of 400g tin of tomatoes, Broccoli, Cheese, grated

  1. Put the pasta on the cook.
  2. Boil broccoli until soft.
  3. In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the cream cheese, tomatoes, and cheese. Season with salt. Simmer until it thickens and combines.
  4. Add broccoli to the sauce and squash it a little.
  5. Add pasta and toss.
  6. Serve with some grated cheese on top.



Day 5:



Ingredients: Oil, Onion, chopped, ½ of 400g tin tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 2 eggs, ½ of pepper, chopped

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan put onion, pepper and garlic and cook until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes and stir until thickens.
  3. With a large spoon, make 2 dips in the sauce and crack an egg into each one.
  4. Put on a lid and cook for 6-8 mins on low heat.
  5. Serve with a toast.






I was positively surprised how much I could buy and how many dishes I could make while sticking to £15. Most importantly, at the end of the week, I was left with almost no leftovers which was the idea of the whole project. Utilising the things we have and not throwing out anything.

Written by Adam Balazi, Student Champion

Food for Mood 6: Sauerkraut

For our final Food for Mood recipe, Caroline from Every Good Thing showed us how to make Sauerkraut.  This is a German dish that literally translates as “sour cabbage” but don’t let that put you off. Sauerkraut is made by the process of lacto-fermentation, where we’ll be using helpful bacteria present on the veggies and a little salt to make a delicious live pickle that will be packed with nutrients, lactic acid bacteria and fibre  – all fantastic for your gut health. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, you’ll know something about how important looking after your gut health is! This is a very simple recipe. (more…)

Food for Mood 4: Three very easy suppers

Our next Food for Mood recipes make a very easy supper (and lunch for the next day) with cheap ingredients that are nutrient dense. This is the fourth of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

You’re busy with your studies and you don’t have time to prep food or even think about your mood. How about making a three-dish meal in 45 minutes that will feed you twice, plus help keep your energy and motivation topped up. (more…)

Food for Mood 3: How to make healthier snacks

Saba James, the Nutrition for Wellbeing Lead from the National Centre for Integrative Medicine, shares three easy sweeter treats to avoid packaged cereal, chocolate bars and ice creams. This is the third of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

These healthy snacks include dark chocolate – full of magnesium and antioxidants. Dates, which offer a mellow, caramel sweetness with added fibre and minerals. Nuts, which help maintain stable blood-glucose levels with added protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Bananas, which are dense in fibre, prebiotics plus potassium, folate, vitamin C and lots of antioxidants plus they taste delicious.

Balancing our blood glucose helps stabilise our mood and energy which supports our stamina and focus during periods of revision and intense study. It is also essential to enjoy the sweeter things in life sometimes. (more…)

Food for Mood 2: How to make a healthy grain bowl

In our second Food for Mood cookalong we learnt to make a simple recipe to include more wholegrains into our diet. In-tact whole grains, rather than flour-based and processed grains which dominate the western diet, are brimming with prebiotics that support a healthy microbiome which supports our mood and mental health.

Did you know that our gut microbes also produce some of our happy-hormone serotonin and our calming communicator GABA? Our gut (well, our lower intestines to be more specific) is made up of trillions of microbes that can help or hinder us by the species that dominate and how we feed them. The fibre and prebiotics in in-tact wholegrains feed healthier microbial strains which in-turn feed us with the hormones and neurotransmitters we need for a calmer mood and focused motivation. In-tact wholegrains are not the only feeders we can give our guts, a range of colourful beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit can also do the job – alongside healthy proteins and fats to balance. (more…)