Cooking for the busy student

Easy to make chia pudding
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

5 April 2018

Our students are completing training contracts, which are essentially full-time jobs, as well as studying hard to pass exams and build knowledge - and you need the right fuel to do so!

Performance coach Michael Altshuler once said, ‘The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.' With that in mind, we’re continuing our series of time-saving tips to ensure you’re piloting your way to optimum success with mind and body.

Juicing and smoothies are quick ways to pack a fair punch of vitamins into your day, however we do not recommend living on juiced fruit and vegetables alone; this Telegraph journalist experience describes several low points, including lack of protein and depriving the body of insoluble fibre which protects your liver from the high sugar doses contained in fruit.

We asked tutor Jennifer Cloke for her tips on quick meals, which she adopted as a CA student:

“I would usually take a Sunday morning or afternoon off from studying and would try to do a bit batch cooking session in that time.

“I would make something like soup or bolognese sauce that I could freeze into portions so that during the week I didn’t have to worry about what food was in the house, or spend too long cooking; I could just re-heat something and keep studying.

“The other things I stocked up on were fresh fruit, as well as dried fruit and nuts. The fresh fruit because it was good for me, and fruit and nuts as they’re easy to buy in bulk; I didn’t have to worry about going shopping as often, as well as it keeping me off the sweets and chocolate!”

Our very own former student and now recently qualified Susan Pattison CA, gave us her suggestions for quick-cook meals:

“Quick and easy vegan meals for lunch are pitta bread and carrot sticks with hummus or a falafel wrap (falafel is available to buy in supermarkets or really easy to make at home).

“For dinner, wholemeal pasta with garlic bread, or stir fry with vegetables and brown rice. Desserts would include fruit salad or chia seed puddings (see recipe below) which can be made up the night before and in various flavours.”

Quick dessert: Chia seed puddings (2-4 portions)

Prep and cooking time: 5 minutes (stored overnight). These can keep for up to five days in the fridge in appropriate packaging, so don’t be afraid to whip these up at the weekend for the week ahead.

Ingredients: 3-5 tbsp chia seeds, 250 ml milk (almond, coconut, hemp, etc.), 1tsp maple syrup / honey, vanilla pod or essence, and optional yoghurt to add creaminess (around 2tbsp).

Method: If you have empty jars, here’s the solution you’ve been waiting for! Pour in everything and stir. Mix, seal and put in the fridge overnight (at least 6 hours). Bring some variety by adding fruit, nuts, or chocolate!

Quick meal: Baked eggs (2-3 portions)

Prep and cooking time: 17 minutes

Ingredients: 2-4 eggs, spinach, chopped tomatoes (canned), chili flakes or other herbs / spices to taste, and optional cheese (makes 4)


  1. Heat oven to 200c, then place spinach in a colander. Pour boiling water over the spinach and drain of water. 
  2. Place spinach leaves in ovenproof dishes and mix tomatoes with your seasoning and pour into dishes.
  3. Make a dip in the leaves and tomatoes and crack in an egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes and serve.
  4. If you are a cheese lover, sprinkle some on top.

Quick meal: Eleanor's chicken stir-fry (2-3 portions)

ICAS writer Eleanor O’Neill told us about her go-to recipe for easy dinner with minimal washing up.

Prep and cooking time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for refrigerating the chicken.

Ingredients: 250g of chicken breast, 100g mixed, sliced peppers, 1-2 dried noodle nests, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp chili flakes.


  1. Mix together the soy sauce, olive oil and spices in a bowl to make the marinade.
  2. Slice the chicken breast into small chunks and add to marinade. Cover and chill in fridge for a minimum of 30 mins (spot of quick study time?).
  3. Boil the noodles, strain and put to the side.
  4. Cook marinated chicken on a medium heat until the edges begin to crisp.
  5. Slice peppers and add. Once the meat and peppers are cooked through, return the noodles to the pot and stir.
  6. Eat away! You can freeze the marinated chicken if you’ve made a lot and have later in the week.

Quick meal: Lentil salad (2-4 portions)

Prep and cooking time: 25 mins

Ingredients: 200g Puy lentils, 1 litre vegetable stock / bouillon, broccoli, sugar snap peas, optional chili.

Dressing: sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, chopped garlic, soy sauce, fresh or chopped ginger, honey to sweeten.


  1. Boil lentils in stock for 15 mins then drain and put to side.
  2. Salt water in another pan and bring to boil, and cook the vegetables. Drain and cool with cold water. Dry with kitchen paper and add to lentils.
  3. Mix your dressing together as you would like it, using the soy, sesame and lemon as your ‘base’, then mix with chili and pour over the lentils.

We will continue our feature with even more time-saving and health-boosting recipes – if you have any suggestions you would like us to feature, send them on to


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