College Cuisine: a guide to instant meals

Be it that your cooking skills are limited, or time is a luxury, but at some stage in your college career you will learn that living off instant meals is pretty much the only way to survive.

Erin chicken and mushroom savoury rice

Serving: 120g packet, serves two people/someone who’s really hungry.

How to make it: Empty into saucepan, add 1/2 pint of cold water. Bring water to the boil, then simmer (covered) until water is absorbed.

Suitable for vegetarians?: No, as one of the ingredients is chicken fat.

Verdict: As a big risotto lover, I decided to give this a go and compare it to the one I make at home. The first downside to this was that the chicken wasn’t included, despite being advertised as “chicken and mushroom rice”. But, I got over it eventually, despite the fact that a few pieces of chicken could have improved on it.

That said, it wasn’t bad. It was moist, and didn’t leave an overly-bearing MSG-style after taste. The mushrooms did disappear though, so if anyone has found them let me know. But it does leave you with a full feeling after. And not the good kind.

Result:3/5

Pot Noodle

(As every man and his dog knows, there are countless Pot Noodle flavours. I went for the bog standard curry flavour for this test.)

Serving: 90g. Just enough for one person.

How to make it: Fill the pot with water up to the fill line. Leave to stand for two minutes. Stir, then leave to stand for a further two minutes. Add the sachet of sauce.

Suitable for vegetarians?: All Pot Noodle flavours are vegetarian friendly.

Verdict: If you don’t mix the water properly, or have the right amount, you’re not going to have the best Pot Noodle experience. Too much water results in soggy noodles, while too little will provide a crunchy result. If done right, the noodles are alright. There is a slight salty after taste, and the mango chutney accompanying the curry flavour is quite thick.

Result:2/5

Knorr Pastaria Pasta Mushroom

Serving: 170g

How to make it: Bring 500ml (just under a pint) of cold water to the boil. Add the contents of the pouch and simmer until the water has been fully absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Suitable for vegetarians?: Yes. None of the ingredients listed contain meat.

Verdict: Once again, this can be improved by adding some chicken (and maybe sneaking in a rasher or two if you’re feeling bold.) That said, it doesn’t even need that much of an improvement. The sauce is the perfect thickness, the mushrooms are the right texture and the pasta isn’t too hard or too rubbery. The only real downside is that if some of the sauce doesn’t absorb properly, it can feel a little powdery.

Result: 4/5

Knorr QuickLunch Spaghetti Bolognese

Serving: 80g

How to make it: Pour boiling water into cup up to fill line and stir well. Leave to stand for five minutes and stir again.

Suitable for vegetarians: No, as the bolognese sauce contains beef.

Verdict: The sauce thickens as soon as the water is added, which makes it a little difficult to stir. It’s also tough to stir when it’s fully absorbed. But, because the sauce ends up as thick as it does, it’s very filling. The good kind. The sauce is also tangy and sweet, and the spaghetti is perfectly chewy.

Result: 5/5

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