By Adam Westwood, first year journalism student.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for those fortunate enough, you will be looking into gifts for that special someone in your life! But as a university student, financially, times can be very tough, so getting those of whom you love a special gift can be difficult. From someone who has been fortunate enough to spend the last two Valentine’s Days with his lovely girlfriend, here are some ideas for a cheap home-cooked meal, and a few gifts to make their day extra special.
Cook spaghetti bolognese for two
You can make this with leftovers for the day after for about £3.50. Grab all of these ingredients:
- Quorn Mince – £1.49 at Aldi. If you want to use beef mince, it’ll work the exact same, but it will be more expensive.
- Spaghetti – If you get it at Aldi, this will be under a pound, but you can use any pasta you have to hand.
- Passata – 49p per carton at Aldi.
- Onion – You can get an onion for under 20p at the Moor Market.
- Two Garlic cloves – You can buy a head of Garlic for about 20p at Moor Market, or 60p for three at Aldi.
- Oregano is key, but any herbs you have go great. Mix it up and try something different!
- Salt and Pepper, and a bit of oil or cooking spray to start with.
How to cook
1. First of all, put a pan on the hob with your oil or cooking spray to heat up. Whilst it is heating, chop the onion, and finely chop the garlic cloves (if you don’t have a garlic press like me!), and throw in the pan to fry.
2. Then, after your onions begin to become clear, add your Quorn mince and passata to the pan, as well as some salt, pepper and your herbs of choice. Let simmer for between 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Once you have added everything into the pan, get another pan and add your spaghetti. If you haven’t cooked spaghetti before, place it in the pan like in the photo below, and pour boiling water from the kettle directly onto the bottom half of the pasta, to soften it quickly. After a few minutes, using a large plastic spoon, you will be able to completely submerge the pasta into the water.
4. Once your pasta is softened and is ready for your taste, drain it and begin to serve. You can add some grated cheese if you want to – get ready to eat!
So that’s how to make a quick and easy meal for your veggie valentine!
Make your own gifts
You may, however, have a reservation to a restaurant so you need some cheap and quick presents for your significant other. Here are a few of my favourite potential gifts for a cheap budget!
It sounds cliche, but the gifts that will suit your partner best are the ones you make yourself.
For our first year anniversary, I got my girlfriend a jar that I filled with ‘52 reasons I loved her and 12 of my favourite memories’. The Kilner jar I used was £3, and I used a blue biro and a black biro pen to distinguish the memories and reasons apart. I wrote them down on several pieces of A4 Paper of which I had drawn a template on, giving me the same amount of space per statement/reason. Between writing them all, and cutting them all out, this may have taken three hours, but the look on her face when she saw what she had gotten, and once she had read a few, priceless!
Buy the basics for less
Again, this is very cliche, but everyone loves getting some flowers or some chocolate at this time of year! You can pick up a dozen red roses for £2 at Aldi, and most big supermarkets have offers on boxes of chocolate right now for similar prices.
However, there are several independent chocolate shops such as Dandelion Cocoa on Crookes, which offers tonnes of variety with vegan and dairy free options, for very fair prices. More specialist gifts that are crafted to your partner’s tastes will always be a better gift, so think about their favourite chocolate or flowers, and base their gift around that.
For me, I always like things that are unique and thoughtful, and planning things out can make the best gifts. In under an hour, you could plan a trip to the Peak District, and you could take a picnic and have a special date this Valentine’s Day.
Planning something elaborate doesn’t have to be expensive. Think about your partner’s interests, and base what you get them around that. The thoughtful gifts are always, and will always, be the best gifts.
Good luck everyone – I hope you all have the best Valentine’s Day!