As a parent I have always wished for my children to grow up thinking independently, become loving partners and eventually supportive parents. I have also encouraged them to be happy, thoughtful cooks too. Never more so than when they first left home.

It’s the time of year when pupils vacate their childhood homes and morph into fully fledged students. In a good year many fly the nest and start a university education, transported in their tearful parent’s Volvo which is packed to the gunnels with processed food and kilos of dried pasta.

I was reminded of this when strolling the aisles of an A-list supermarket and passing the parade of B-lister’s pasta sauces and chemically stabilised foods, noting that even the odd member of our present Royal family is at home to some questionable culinary activity. With time on his hands, I guess even Andrew could put in an appearance these days – perhaps with a line of frozen pizzas? When it comes to student convenience foods, ‘No Sweat’ strikes me as a suitably catchy title.

The roster of film and TV personalities that have trooped along to Nestlé, Kraft or Rank/Hovis/McDougall to add their grinning faces to the labels of processed foods, is evidently expanding. All this whilst shamelessly turning up on chat shows to proselytise about the wellbeing of our planet, our human species in general and the next generation in particular. Seasonal, local, fresh and sustainable clearly gets second billing after the royalty payments.

So students camped along the pasta front, why turn to expensive, high intervention sauces when simply made works every time? Ask any Italian in their home kitchen if you don’t believe me.

At the hands of a nonna I learnt the mantra of the ‘three o’s’ – “Don’t overcook, don’t over drain and don’t over sauce”. I might add, don’t over spend.

I was not surprised to find that Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce (a dish unheard of in Italy) appears to be a clear winner in the student residential pod. If the requirement is more nourishment, more taste with a concomitant reduction in expenditure, then perhaps try this.

Penne alla Carbonara from The River Café Cook Book (1995) Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

Serves 6

200g pancetta (or streaky bacon)

1 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

6 egg yolks

120 ml double cream

150 g Parmesan, freshly grated

250 g penne rigate

In a large pan, fry the pancetta in the olive oil slowly, so that it releases its own fat before becoming crisp

Add some pepper

Beat the egg yolks with the cream and season with salt and pepper

Add half the Parmesan

Meanwhile cook the penne in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain

Combine immediately with the hot pancetta and the oil then pour in the cream mixture

Stir to coat each pasta piece, the heat from the pasta will cook the eggs slightly

Finally add the remaining Parmesan

Wine thoughts

Staying with the regionally inexpensive, but sourced from the warm hills below Rome, a simple, refreshing Frascati might fit an Italianate supper in student accommodation. A bit more of a grown-up white in the form of a Vermentino from Sardinia would be my choice if there’s a carefully made bottle to hand. If pushed and the local supermarket is a little staid, then a crackling dry Picpoul de Pinet from France would work well.