It's hard enough for students to cook for themselves when living away from home, but the process was a lot more difficult for a vegetarian...until now.

Having been vegetarian for almost a year now, one of the things I've found is that having tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock in the press is a sure-fire way to always have a meal at your fingertips. Adding in a few vegetables and other ingredients with these can be a meal for a few people, or two to three nights of dinners for one. Pasta sauces, soups, stews, curries - there are so many possibilities with a couple of basic and cheap ingredients.


1. Simple pasta sauce (serves 2)

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tsp sugar

1 medium onion, chopped

Fresh or dried basil (optional)

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until softened.

  2. Stir in the can of tomatoes and sugar. Simmer for around ten minutes, cooking the pasta in a separate pot at the same time.

  3. Take off the heat and add basil for an earthy flavour or chilli flakes for a bit of a kick.



 

2. White bean & vegetable winter soup (serves 4)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 tbps olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 small courgette or half a large one, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 litre vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Mixed herbs (optional)

Corn flour (optional)

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on a quite high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and courgette. Cook until tender, about 5-10 minutes.

  2. Add the stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper (plus herbs if using) and bring to the boil.

  3. Add the beans, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. To make this even healthier, kale or spinach could be added five minutes from the end of cooking time.

  4. If a broth-like texture is desired, the soup can be taken off at this point. For a thicker soup, mix a heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a couple of tablespoons of water until you have a pasty consistency. Add to the soup and stir.

  5. Ladle into bowls and serve with bread for a filling meal.


 

3. Easy vegetable cauliflower curry

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp curry powder

500ml vegetable stock

1/2 a butternut squash, peeled and diced into cubes OR 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1/2 cauliflower, cut into florets

3 tbsp of Greek yoghurt OR cornflower

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan on a high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened. Add the curry powder (more can be added later to taste if desired) and cook for two minutes.

  2. Add the stock, chopped tomatoes, and butternut squash/sweet potato, and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. Add the cauliflower, cover and simmer for ten minutes.

  4. To thicken the sauce, add either the Greek yoghurt or mix a heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a couple of tablespoons of water until you have a pasty consistency and add it to the sauce.

  5. Serve over rice with naan bread.


So there you have it, three recipes which use relatively similar ingredients but give you completely different flavours. Lentils, beans or leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale can be added to any of these meals to give you that extra healthy bonus.