An idea I love is to have a Bake Off night with your flatmates. The Great British Bake Off is something that has grown in popularity over the last few years and now it is one of the most loved programmes on TV! The nation really have got back in the kitchen baking and cooking and I think it is great that shows like this are around as they are been shown to a whole new audience. You could take some inspiration from this and make some show stopping cakes!

Baking with your flatmates is something that you could do one night in the week or on a weekend, especially in the cold, winter months! Something else to make it fun is to maybe all take it in turns, each weekend somebody bakes something, maybe their favourite cake, or cookies, whatever it might be and they show their flatmates how they do it. Obviously only people who actually like baking would want to do this, baking and cooking isn’t for everyone!

If this is something that you would like, here are a few recipes you might want to try!

One Pan Brownies.

Ingredients – 1/2 cup of butter, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, pinch of salt, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of flour.

Method – Preheat oven to 200 degrees then line and grease a baking tin. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, when completely melted, take off the heat and stir in the cocoa powder until combined. Add the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla extract. Mix then add the flour in a bit at a time. When everything is combined, pour into the prepared tin and then bake for around 25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack then cut into squares!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits.

Ingredients – 175g butter, 85g caster sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 100g of chocolate chips, 225g plain flour.

Method – Pre heat oven to 180 degrees. Place the caster sugar, butter and vanilla extract into a bowl and mix until combined and smooth. When mixed, add the flour then chocolate chips. Use your hands to bring it together then put onto a floured surface. Form into a dough and roll into a sausage shape. If it is really soft, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for half an hour. Cut into pieces and place on a large baking tray. Put them into the oven and bake for just 10 minutes. Leave to cool then eat!

Another idea to make things a little more exciting is a Come Dine With Me style competition. Similar to bake off, make your favourite meal for your flatmates and they can do the same another night. You don’t necessarily have to score each other on the meal, like they do on the actual TV show, unless you want too! A night in with your flatmates doesn’t mean you have to get a takeaway, there are so many meals you could make. Here are some of my favourites.

Spicy Shepherds Pie.

Ingredients – 250g beef mince, 500g of potatoes, 1 tsp ginger, 2 tbsp curry powder, 1 beef stock, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Method – Pre-heat oven the 220 degrees. Boil the potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are cooking, in a different pan, brown the mince then add the curry powder and ginger. Mix and then add the chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty tin with water and add that to the mixture too. Stir and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, take off the heat, add some salt and pepper and mash. I normally add a bit of milk to make it a bit easier to mash and it brings it all together. You can now add the mince mixture to a dish then top with the mashed potato. I then added some grated cheese on top and baked in the oven for half an hour. When done, serve with vegetables.

Diet Coke Chicken.

Ingredients – 220g chicken, 2 tsp relish, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 5 tbsp passatta, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp dried herbs, 330ml diet coke, 150ml chicken stock.

Method – Fry the chicken in a pan on a medium heat. While the chicken is cooking, in a jug you need to mix the rest of the ingredients. To the jug add the coke, stock, puree, passatta, relish, soy sauce and herbs. Mix then add to the chicken once it is cooked. Leave to simmer for around 15 minutes until a sticky sauce has formed. You could serve this with pasta, rice, chips, salad, really anything you want.

Aswell as these two things, you could also have movie nights in, with the likes of sites like Netflix you are sure to find something everyone will want to watch. You could also have a pamper night and do pedicures, manicures, homemade facemasks etc.

I hope these ideas give you a bit of inspiration for your nights and weekends in. So simple and take up a bit of time, also a great way of bonding with your flatmates and maybe finding some new interests. Staying in and doing things like this could save you a little bit of money too, making home cooked meals is always cheaper than going out and buying a takeaway and by this point in the academic year, people are normally starting to struggle a little bit with money! Every little helps!