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Student Recipes

Cheap chilli con carne recipe

Follow this easy chilli recipe for a great wholesome meal that won't break the bank. Great for filling weekly dinners, or even cheap Mexican dinner party food!

chilli con carne on rice

Credit: Scotshot – Shutterstock

We love chilli con carne – it's a fail-safe tasty meal that you can cook in one pot (so less washing up!) and freeze in individual portions to have throughout the week, or whenever it takes your fancy really.

Chilli also works great as dinner party food, as you can add extras like guacamole, sour cream, grated cheese, tortillas and nachos to turn it into a real Mexican feast! It's also a great one for vegetarians, as the beef can be replaced with a veggie alternative without losing any of the magic.

Don't forget you can also wrap it up in a tortilla with some rice and take it to uni in some foil as a homemade burrito! The options are endless...

Make sure you've got these kitchen essentials in your cupboard before you get started!

Chilli con carne recipe (also suitable for vegetarians)

red pot

Credit: Beloborod – Shutterstock


Serves: 4 | Costs: around £2.86* (£0.72 per serving) | Time taken: 30–40 mins

  • 1 white onion, diced (£0.12)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (£0.05)
  • 500g beef mince, or Quorn mince if you're veggie 🙂 (£1.55)
  • 450g tin of chopped tomatoes (£0.28)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree (£0.02)
  • 1 red pepper (£0.32)
  • 400g tin of kidney beans (£0.31)
  • 1 beef or vegetable stock cube (optional) (£0.05)
  • A smidge of chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 360g rice (£0.16).
This recipe is part of our student meal plan which shows you how to do breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks for just £2.67 per day for a whole month!


chilli con carne spoon

Credit: Yulia Davidovich – Shutterstock

  1. Add some oil to a wok or a large pan over a medium heat. Brown the mince – in other words, fry until there's almost no pink.
  2. Once the mince is browned, add the onions and garlic.
  3. Boil the kettle to make half a litre of beef/vegetable stock (follow instructions on the pack to make this).
  4. Once the onions have gone translucent, add the chopped tomatoes, the chopped red pepper and the tomato puree. Stir and add some seasoning.
  5. Pour in the beef/vegetable stock. Stir again.
  6. Add as much chilli powder as you can bear (we'd suggest about half a teaspoon, as the boiling process can make your chilli pretty hot! Remember you can always add more later, but you can't take it out). Leave the chilli to simmer for around 20 mins.
  7. Once the liquid has reduced, cook your rice. Boil-in-the-bag options are good for portion control, but it's up to you!
  8. While the rice is cooking, add in the kidney beans and grate in the dark chocolate. This might sound crazy, but the dark chocolate gives the chilli an added richness that, while subtle, is definitely an improvement.
  9. Once the rice is cooked, divide it between plates or bowls and serve with a large helping of chilli on top.

Serve this with some grated cheese on top, as well as some sour cream or natural yoghurt on the side if it's spicy. You might also want to make some fruity cocktails to get into the party mood!

Big fan of the one-pot dinner? Check out this great sausage and bean casserole recipe next.

* Prices are correct as of August 2020 (using, and prices as guidelines).


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