I always used to discount the humble roast chicken as not really worth bothering with. I think it's because I never really liked roast chicken as a child - I found the combination of it, its gravy (bisto-enriched, of course), and roast potatoes far too heavy and cloying, and that is how we usually had it in my house. Come to think of it, I'm not sure any of my family are really hugely bothered about roast chicken. However, take a lovely, crispy, bronze chicken and pair it with some slightly unexpected ingredients, and you have something beautiful. Shreds of leftover roast chicken are infinitely superior to those bland, skinless chicken breasts you can buy in packets at the supermarket, and the real added bonus is the cooking juice from the chicken. This will add huge depth of flavour to whatever you decide to do with it. It is for this reason that I have found roast chicken to be a perfect partner to rice and couscous salads: the juices soak into the grains and make them moist and tasty, and then you can add a whole host of other ingredients.
Ottolenghi has a nice recipe for a chicken and rice salad with rocket, fish sauce, lime juice and chilli. It works very well. Diana Henry, in her new cookbook that I am salivating over, has one for wild rice, chicken and blueberry salad which I am keen to try. This one is also a new favourite of mine. It's just couscous, mixed with the juice of a lemon and two oranges, the flesh of two oranges sliced into segments, the seeds from half a pomegranate, lots of salt and pepper, lots of torn basil and mint, the roasting juices from the chicken, and finally the chicken itself. It's nice served on a bed of watercress to cut through the sweetness of the fruit, and I think rocket would work well too. Because of the roasting juices, the whole thing is savoury rather than sweet, and the mint, basil and citrus stop it being too heavy. You will feel rather healthy after tucking in...though probably less so if, like me, your favourite part is the salty, crispy chicken skin.
My boyfriend tells me that roast chicken is not a normal student lunch. I think, actually, it is the ideal student lunch - my chicken cost a grand total of £4.49 (admittedly because I flirt with the butcher). The couscous salad will make four meals, and the stock that I am going to make from the carcass will make a very nice risotto or soup. So there. Frugal cooking that tastes lovely. OK, so baked beans on toast might be cheaper, but a) I don't want to be a stereotype and b) I don't like baked beans.