Dinner With The Omnivore

Grub on a grant

Posted on: December 15, 2010

That'd be me then, clearly

Which tells you all what an old biddy I am. Grants, what are they, eh? Ah the golden age of university education, when degrees were difficult, beer was cheap and a bus ride across Sheffield cost tuppence.

Students are still poor though, on the whole, and among the useful things the experience taught us was that a) you can’t live on steaks and takeaway and still have enough money for beer even if it is cheap and b) it’s possible to eat perfectly well on a fiver a week. Or it was then at any rate – it’s probably more like £20 these days, but you get the general idea.

Actually I’m told that modern parents do their student offsprings’ shopping online at Ocado and have it all delivered to their immaculate flats, likewise purchased for them at parental expense. Either that or they pay a fortune for canteen swipe cards so that their delicate little babies can eat in residence cafés all term at hugely unnecessary expense. Where was I when the parents were handed out that I failed to get my paws on one of these drooling idiots with the bottomless pockets, I ask myself? Probably at the front of the queue I suppose, if I’m honest.

I take such stories with a pinch of salt really, since I can’t think of any reason why the average parent should have let its brains run out through its ears all of a sudden. Besides, they can’t all have an MP’s expense account, surely?

... or food? Hmmm, close call.

JC’s experience of student life was the standard one of prioritising beer over food and consequently his culinary specialities run to stodge, potatoes and substances chosen on a maximum calories for cash basis. He is the only person I know who makes bubble and squeak from scratch rather than leftovers (what leftovers?).

But there’s nothing wrong with basic student stodge. Baked spud and beans, spag bol and assorted things on toast still feature largely on the menu even today, mainly towards the end of interseason when things get a bit thin and the arrival of the party season at the most financially inconvenient time possible means that once again we’re all making that food vs beer calculation and at the same time trying to stuff 3000 calories a day just to maintain a sensible body temperature.

And thanks to higher education and our cruel and Scrooge-like parents, we manage it every year. God knows what the seasonnaires of the future are going to do – I don’t think Ocado deliver up here.

Tuna Pasta Thing

You will need: a can of tuna; a small tin of sweetcorn; a spring onion; some mayo; pasta of your choice (though it doesn’t work too well with spaghetti)

Cook the pasta. Meanwhile, mix everything else together in a bowl. Drain the pasta, return to the pan and add the contents of the bowl. Stir everything until the pasta is well coated with the tuna mixture.

If you’re feeling posh you can heat the bowls before you serve it. Alternatively, you could save on washing up and eat it straight from the pan, though I never stooped than low even as a student. I’d be prepared to bet JC did though – every time.

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2 Responses to "Grub on a grant"

I was quite surprised to find how far a grant would stretch…I could even afford a holiday in France in the summers and I didn’t have to take a job to make ends meet either.
I do recall eating a lot of eggs and baked potatoes and using the oven for rice puddings at the same time – the which puddings would last a few days in the fridge to be eaten cold – but if I was flush I would buy a Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie…bliss!

[...] to cook dinner for 16 with an all-day hangover when their culinary experience so far stretches to that student pasta thing with tuna and mayo in it. Even as we squeak, menus, accounts paperwork and HACCP handbooks are being turned into creative [...]

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