Saying good-bye to mum’s dinners and saying hello to a student cooking life can be a difficult challenge if you have never had cooking experience – or never needed too. Are you struggling to come up with meals that are quick, easy and cheap? Well look no further as this blog post will give you some tips, ideas and advice to take this unnecessary stress off your shoulders.
Keep it simple
Let’s face it, you will not be cooking five star gourmet meals, or using fancy appliances like they do in restaurants. All you will need is basic equipment such as: one or two pots and pans and a few utensils. When interviewing a variety of students a particular issue they encountered was buying more cooking equipment than needed. Sophie Riddle, who studies sociology at the University of Bournemouth, said: “When I started university I wasted so much money buying lots of cooking equipment that I never used, in fact I ended up selling most of it on eBay.”
Keeping it simple will not only help your bank balance, but it will allow more storage (of the little you have anyway) for more important things – your food.
Say ‘no’ to cook books
Cook books are a waste of money – especially when you need to fork out lots of your student loan on university books! Take full advantage of your free wifi by using useful cooking websites such as jamieoliver.com, BBC Good Food and AllRecipes.com. These websites are perfect for students because the recipes are easy to follow and it also shows you where to buy the cheapest ingredients from (please note that the websites that are mentioned have not paid me to mention them).
Become BFFL with your freezer
Although buying fresh food seems like the healthier option, it will result in taking numerous trips to your local supermarket and even throwing out of date food away. Bethan Gray, studying mathematics teaching at the University of Brighton stated “In my first year, I wasted so much food because I didn’t freeze it; I could have saved so much more money and time if I put most of it in the freezer.” She also added “Now what I do is at the beginning of the week I make a huge meal which I then freeze. I was fed up coming home from a long day of lectures and having to cook a whole meal from scratch. Now I simply get it out of the freezer and defrost it in the microwave and enjoy!”
Staying Healthy on a budget
While it may seem easier and tempting to reach out for pot noodles and microwave meals, as a student you can still have a nutritious diet without breaking the bank. In fact, in the long run students who plan their meals for each week rather than buying as they go along end up saving more money. Buying food that’s versatile and can go a long way is crucial to save money and stop you being bored of the same old meals day in, day out.
Cristi May, a student studying psychology at the Royal Holloway said “I have always tried to have a healthy diet, and choosing to go to university I thought would jeopardise that. However, although you can take a trip to Asda and buy a packet of doughnuts for two pounds, you can swap that by buying things such as peppers and mushrooms!” She also added “Mushrooms are my go to food for cooking as I can incorporate it into literally anything”.
The key point to eating healthy on a budget is swapping the unnecessary crisps and chocolate (which may be hard) for things such as fruit and vegetables. By doing this can extremely enhance your university experience by giving you more energy, reduce stress levels and even help you overcome the fresher’s flu (which we have all suffered at least once at our time at university).
Lovely left overs
Think before you throw! Being crafty with your food is the clever way to save money. With a little prep your leftovers can create delicious meals.
If you enjoy a roast on Sunday, the remains of the joint can make a great curry or a delicious risotto later in the week and there may even be enough for a sandwich or two. Sunday roast is the perfect time to do it, when you might have a bit more time to plan your weekly meals.
Last but not least… Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Just remember, no professional chef got to where they were without making mistakes along the way. Making meals that end up being a complete disaster isn’t the end of the world. Experimenting with food will ensure your diet will never seem like a chore. It is also the perfect opportunity to bond with your fellow housemates. Cooking meals together not only creates friendships, but it can allow you to get recipes and ideas to use for yourself.