By Megan King |



It’s no secret that the budgetary restrictions of a postgraduate researcher don’t typically afford (See what I did there?) the most elaborate lifestyle, and if you pair cash shortages with the time constraints of a PhD program, it’s easy to see why a lot of us are in committed relationships with our slow cookers and microwaves. After a long day of PhD-ing, though, do you really want to reheat the black bean soup you made a few days ago? Probably not, and rightfully so!


Whether you managed a successful day of all things PhD, or whether you simply puttered through eight hours of trying to get your head around the proposals, the editing, and the extra-curriculars, you’ve earned the right to an Instagram-worthy meal. Any maybe a beer or two. So, here are a few of my go-to recipes that not only look cute and taste great, but also don’t break the bank or force you to spend your entire evening in the kitchen.


I’ve portioned each of these meals for two servings, but these recipes are really adaptable, so feel free to swap ingredients to suit your dietary needs.


Halloumi, Wholegrains, and Roasted Veg

Time: 30 minutes

Cost: £3.97

*Plant-based and dairy-free

2 Red Onions, 15g Sunflower Seeds, 250g Cherry Tomatoes, 130g Wholegrains (I’ve used Bulgur and Barley, and both work well!), 1 Courgette, 1 Tbsp Coriander, 1 tsp Dried Chili Flakes, 1 tsp Lime Juice, 200g Halloumi

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°
  2. Peel and quarter the red onions, slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and slice the courgetti into rounds.
  3. Place the veg on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper, too, if you’d like, and roast for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Boil 260ml of water, stir in the Bulgur, cover, and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Measure out 1 Tbsp of dried coriander or chop it fresh with the stalks included.
  6. Slice the halloumi into 8 strips.
  7. Once the bulgur wheat has absorbed the water, fluff it with a fork, then stir in the lime juice and coriander.
  8. Heat a wide-based pan over medium-high heat, and cook the halloumi for 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden-brown.
  9. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds and chili flakes over the bulgur and roasted veg and top with the pan-fried halloumi.



Spinach and Feta Tart with Crispy Potatoes and a Side Salad

Time: 35 minutes

Cost: £3.30

*Other variations have included courgette, red pepper, and parmesan, bacon and leek, and broccoli and cheddar, so feel free to use the same base and mix it up!

50g Mixed Greens, 120g Baby Leaf Spinach, 50g Soft Cheese, 100g Feta Cheese, 1 tsp Dried Oregano, 120g Puff Pastry, 3 White Potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°
  2. Wash the baby leaf spinach and wilt it under boiled water (or use frozen and heat it up on the stovetop).
  3. Rinse the spinach under cool water and drain it as best as possible before chopping it.
  4. Add the soft cheese to a bowl with 1 tsp of boiled water and season with a dash of black pepper or garlic granules.
  5. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and lay out the puff pastry.
  6. Using a fork, score a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry. This will give you a nice crust and make you feel like you should be on Bake Off.
  7. Spread the soft cheese concoction within the border of the puff pastry and top it with the spinach and feta.
  8. Dice the potatoes and add them to a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and the dried oregano.
  9. Bake the spinach and feta tart and the diced potatoes for 25-30 minutes. Then, While everything is cooking, prepare yourself a nice little side salad and get ready to enjoy!



Turkey Burgers with Carrot Fries

Time: 30 minutes

Cost: £4.55

1 Onion (Red or White is fine!), 1 Large Garlic Clove, 50g Mixed Greens, 30ml Mayonnaise, 4-5 Carrots, 30g breadcrumbs, 1 tsp Dried Oregano, 1 tsp Dried Parsley, 10ml White Wine Vinegar, 2 Ciabatta Rolls, 250g turkey breast mince

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°
  2. Slice the carrots into wedges, place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  3. Peel the onion. Dry your tears. Then, slice off a few rounds of red onion before grating or finely chopping the remainder.
  4. Peel the garlic, then press or finely chop it.
  5. In a mixing bowl, add the turkey mince, breadcrumbs, grated/chopped onion, dried oregano, dried parsley, and half of the garlic. Mix well and shape into two burger patties.
  6. Pop the turkey burgers in the oven with the carrot fries and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.
  7. While everything is cooking, combine the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, and the remaining garlic and mix to make aioli.
  8. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half and pop them in the oven for the remaining few minutes.
  9. Prepare the ciabatta rolls with the garlic aioli, some of the mixed greens, the sliced red onion, and the turkey burgers. Then, drizzle the remaining aioli over the rest of your mixed greens and use it as dip for the carrot fries!



Chicken Poutine and Garlicky Brussels

Time: 40 minutes

Cost: £3.60

*Yorkshire Puddings are suggested, but not required.

1 Garlic Clove, 1 Tbsp Cornflour, 1 Mozzarella Ball, 40g Cheddar Cheese, 1 Large Chicken Breast, 5g Chives (fresh or dried), 130g Brussels Sprouts, ½ Cube Chicken Stock, 4 White Potatoes (for a less starchy alternative, mix and match white potatoes with sweet potatoes)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°
  2. Leaving the skins on, slice the potatoes into strips, so that they look like chips, then add them to a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Heat a large, wide-based pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat, and once hot, add the chicken breast and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Then, add the chicken stock and 400ml of boiled water to the pan, cover it, and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. If you’re using fresh chives, finely chop them, and if not, just measure out the dried alternative, and then peel and finely chop the garlic.
  6. Combine 1 Tbsp of cornflour and 2 Tbsp of water and set aside for step nine.
  7. Chop the mozzarella and the cheddar into small pieces, and once the chips are crispy, pop the cheese on top and bake for 5-6 minutes.
  8. Place the brussels sprouts, garlic, and a bit of butter onto a piece of foil and seal it up. Then, pop it in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  9. When the chicken has cooked, transfer it to a plate and return the pan to medium heat, whisking in the chopped chives and cornflour mixture. After about a minute, the sauce should thicken.
  10. Using two forks, shred the chicken, lay it on top of the cheesy chips and top it and drizzle the chive gravy over everything. Serve your garlicky greens on the side, and eat up like a true North American!


Spirulina Supergreens Smoothie Bowl


Smoothie Bowl:  1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder, 1 tsp Spirulina, 1 Cup Coconut Milk (mix it up with almond or oat milk!), ½ cup Oats, ¼ cup Cauliflower, ¼ Cucumber, 1 Banana, ½ cup Raspberries

Topping: Granola, Chia Seeds, Blueberries, Unsweetened Coconut Shavings

*You literally cannot go wrong with this recipe! Don’t have the recommended ingredients? Design your own, and enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a post-workout treat!

  1. Pop the main ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Top with your favorite extras and enjoy!



Image 1: New York Times

Images 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: Megan King


Megan King is a PhD candidate at the University of Kent, studying the process of radicalization in pre-Revolutionary America, and she serves as the Pubs and Publications social media coordinator. You can find further ramblings from her on Twitter.