Whether you’re already at University, or whether you’re just about to start, now is as good a time as any to think about how best to cook for yourself in the academic year ahead. Amongst everything else that demands your time at university, cooking can often be low on your list of priorities – but trust me, unless you want to break your bank and break into a bigger dress size, cooking properly for yourself is a must. You may currently be enjoying being waited on at home, but take the summer as a chance to prepare. Arm yourself with what you need, and practice a few meals whilst The Fam are still around should they need salvaging. So here are my tips on how to be in control of your cooking whilst at uni:
Get Yourself Some Student Cookbooks
These are a classic ‘going to uni’ gift, so you may be able to acquire them this way, but if you’re already at university then get yourself on to Amazon and get ordering. My three favourites are Nosh for Students,The Hungry Student Cookbook and A Girl Called Jack (which isn’t strictly for students, but is all about cooking good food on a budget). Once you’ve got them, grab yourself a brew and some snazzy post-it notes and get marking the recipes that you want to try. However don’t do this on an empty stomach, otherwise what is really quite a nice task becomes sick torture.
Get a Blank Recipe Book to Write In
If you’re anything like me these blank recipe books will fill some deep longing within you just by looking at them. The ones in Paperchase are pricey, but are worth every penny – I may, or may not, have kissed mine when I first bought it. Not only are they subdivided into sections for types of recipes, but they also have plastic wallets for cut-outs, print-outs and photocopies. When I have fully filled mine, I will know I have MADE IT. I would recommend only writing in recipes that you have tried and really enjoyed, otherwise you can use up your book with pages of recipes that actually didn’t turn out so well.
Plan Your Food Properly
Sit down at the start of every week and decide what you’re going to eat that week. From this, make a shopping list so that you know you will have everything in when you come to cook. There is nothing worse than getting everything ready to make tuna pasta bake and realising you don’t have any tuna or pasta. Planning your meals will also help you save money as you won’t be buying things that you end up not using – if you want to hear me ramble on more about money at university, head on over here.
You Don’t Need to Cook Something New Every Night
You are not going to feel like cooking something from scratch every night, especially if you’re doing a degree with high contact hours. Instead, cook big batches of a meal and freeze portions to get out when you need them. Very few recipes serve one anyway – so having leftovers will always come in handy when you come in late from the library or the gym.
Sharing a Kitchen
Finally, perhaps the most obvious thing about student cooking is the fact that your kitchen won’t be yours alone. If like a lot of student houses your kitchen is teeny, communicate with your housemates about when they are making meals to avoid getting under each others toes. There is also no end to the amount of time students can spend letting off steam to each other about that one flat mate who never washes up, leaves the kitchen in a state and never buys communal necessities like bin bags – whatever you do people, don’t let this be you.