Student Savers: Coconut Risotto

Hey Guys!

It’s time for another instalment of my ‘Student Savers’ series, ready?

Last week, I talked a little about the power (and convenience) of the marinade with my Tequila Chicken recipe. I find that recipe perfect for when you know you’ll be knackered later on when you get home from uni/work; prepping in advance means ALL the flavour with very little hassle.

Before I continue, I’ll just add a little about the whole series just incase you missed the previous posts.

This series is inspired largely by my little brother and his first ever food shop. I was a little bit worried about the amount of ready meals he was whacking into his trolley, and although he re-assured me that once he’d gotten used to his surroundings he’d be doing a little more home cooking, I didn’t see the harm in helping encourage him with a few ideas. Thus ‘Student Savers’ was born, in the hope that I’d be able to help out my little brother along with whoever else happens to stumble upon my posts!

Today I think it’s time to get out the big guns a little with something that is certain to impress you, your housemates and your parents. We’re moving away from the comfortable familiarity of pasta, ready meals and take-out and into the fancy-sounding-but-still-super-affordable-dining.

If you know anything about cooking (or, like me, you watch TONNES of episodes of Come Dine With Me) you’ll know risotto is notoriously difficult to master with plenty of horror stories where the dish has become dry, burnt the bottom of the pan or simply not cooked properly, meaning some poor sod ends up having to eat dry, burnt or uncooked rice. Lovely.

But FEAR NOT, here I have written you a foolproof guide to creating an amazing risotto dish, tried and tested by my housemates and I over the years at University.


You will need:

1 White Onion

2/3 cloves of Garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)

1 bag of Arborio Risotto Rice (250g)

Diced chicken breast (500g)

2 tins of Coconut Milk

1 fresh red chilli (feel free to use more than one if you’re feeling brave)

1 bag Baby Leaf Spinach (500g) (or tinned Garden Peas – this bit is totally optional)

Just before I go into the method, I wanted to quickly mention a couple of lessons in spending and saving when it comes to buying your ingredients. Supermarkets are super convenient when you’re in a new city and you’re not totally clued-in on the surrounding area. One thing you should really try to do once you’ve got used to your new home is to shop locally for your meat and groceries. Not only are you paying less, you’re getting better quality *local* produce and supporting small businesses – quite the good egg!

So where you’re saving money by buying locally, you can now afford to buy something slightly more expensive. When it came to buying coconut milk for this recipe I wanted good quality instead of some watery flavourless rubbish, I’ve found that you have to really read the labels and find out exactly how much coconut milk is in each can. Usually the trend is the more expensive the can, the more coconut milk (as opposed to water) the can has, so two cans can end up being up to £3.00 a time. It sounds like a lot BUT I guarantee you, this recipe will make you 4 meals which makes it 75p (roughly) a portion – not so bad right?


  1. Pre-heat some oil in a large pan on a high heat. Roughly chop the onion and garlic, adding the garlic first to the pan allowing it to sauté in the oil, then add the onions. *little tip – add a small amount of water (15 ml) to the pan so the onions become lovely and soft instead of crispy and burnt – burnt ingredients don’t look good in any dish!*
  2. Dice the chicken breast into bite-sized chunks and add to the onions and garlic, allow the chicken to brown.
  3. Add 200g of risotto rice to the pan and stir well, then add one can of coconut milk stirring well once again. Be sure to shake the can before opening it, I’ve forgotten on occasion and ended up with a coconutty paste at the top of the can and then all the image3water splashing everywhere but the pan once the paste has been prised out. It’s less mess for you to clean up later!
  4. Roughly chop the
    fresh chilli and add to the pan. Then WASH YOUR HANDS, the chilli might not smell strong but if you touch your eyes later on, it’s rather uncomfortable.
  5. Keep stirring the pan, if you think the mixture looks a little dry, add a little bit of water and continue to stir. You’ll be able to tell when the rice is cooking because the risotto begins to look like a fluffy rice pudding.
  6. Turn the hob down to a medium heat and add the second can of coconut milk, give it one final thorough stir and then leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Go and grab a copy of that chapter you have to read for the seminar tomorrow and crack on with that while the risotto cooks.
  7. At this point, the risotto should be almost ready, but the best way to tell is to taste it. Is the rice still a little crunchy but the mixture is drying? Add some more water and leave it for another 2/3 minutes. The rice is soft with a little bite to it? Perfect, grab the spinach image2-2(or the peas, whatever you’ve chosen) wash it off and add it to the pan, stirring well and allowing the leaves to wilt. Leave the pan to simmer again for 2 minutes.
  8. Be sure to taste the risotto again before serving. If the rice is still not quite cooked then once again, add water and allow to simmer until the rice is soft. The consistency should be creamy and the rice should look fluffy, having absorbed the flavour from the coconut milk. Serve in a bowl and enjoy (whilst finishing off that chapter you started..).

Total Cost – £9.68

Cost Per Portion (4) – £2.42

Granted it’s a step up from the £1.45 chicken dish we made last week, however we all like something substantial for our evening meals so you have to expect to pay a little bit extra! Plus, it’s way better than any of the smart-price pre-made food you’d get for exactly the same price (if not more).

Once again, let me know how you get on with this one. Risotto can be a tricky thing to master but trust me, once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll love it as much as I do. Feel free to leave your own Student Saver recipes in the comments below, I love trying out new foods!

Till next time,

love, Leigh


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Enjoyed this post?

You might also love Student Savers: Tequila Chicken  or Student Savers: Broccoli and Cheddar Soup 


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