5 cheap and easy cooking tips for students

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

5 Cheap and Easy Cooking Tips for Students

It's embarrassing how awful I was at cooking before I left for uni. I could hardly fry an egg let alone make a whole meal. University in this sense is a real learning curve, it's that first moment when you realise that mum and dad have left you to fend for yourself, utterly helpless.

Fast forward a few years, though I'm no Gordon Ramsay, I could say I've come a long way! I thought I would impart some knowledge and guidance to prevent you resorting to oven chips and pasta (however both options are completely acceptable from time to time).

1. Stock up on basics
In order to keep meals interesting and varied, be sure to have a supply of some cheap and easy essentials in your cupboard:

  • Rice/ noodles
  • Pasta
  • Stock cubes 
  • Pasta
  • Spices
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt and sugar
  • Plain flour/ raising flour   
And in the fridge:
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Pasta sauce/ tomato passata
  • Favourite veggies
  • Garlic

This seems like quite an exhaustive list, but most ingredients can be used together when you just want something quick and simple (i.e an omelette or a stir fry)

2. Learn how to boil pasta and rice
This will come across a little patronising to those who can cook, but most students I've met so far usually have no idea how to boil them properly. In first year I had a few disappointing experiences with under-cooked pasta and I would not want you to feel the pain yourself!

As a  general rule, never put pasta nor rice in the pan until the water has been brought to the boil. They actually cook quicker that way!

See here to cook perfect rice and here for perfect pasta!

3. Make friends with the stock cube
You know the cute little Oxo boxes? Do you know what they do? They're magical things which bring sauces to life with a greater depth of flavour. Simply drop one into boiled water and mix until completely dissolved, then add to any sauce. There are types for every type of meat, my favourite however is the Vegetable stock cube, since it can be used with anything!

4. Use pinterest for inspiration 
I tend to get quite bored of the same meals quite quickly, and this is where Pinterest can be an absolute godsend. (You can check out my Pinterest here - I really should update it more oops!). I recommend typing in a few key ingredients you're planning to use, or like a true student, whatever's left in your fridge and browse away. This is also great for using up fresh produce or leftover meat.

5. Buy one packet of meat and one of fish for the week
In first year I made the mistake of buying too much meat, not eating enough during the week, and then throwing away food that was going off. As most of you will be cooking for one, you shouldn't need more than that when you have carbohydrates and veggies thrown in too. You'll soon work out how much you actually need and adjust accordingly in order to avoid food wastage.

And one don't...

This tip is often beaten to death but I really wouldn't recommend sharing meals with housemates. Unless you have identical tastes, you might end up spending more on extra ingredients for other housemates. In my experience, I've had quite different tastes to my housemates, and sharing food often means that people don't want to contribute and will rely on others to do that.

Thanks for reading! What cooking tips do you have for students heading off to university?

Image: Patryk Dziejma


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  1. These are great tips! University is a way off for me yet but I'm trying to cook a lot more at home and I've got some good recipes nailed.

    Jemima x

    1. Good luck! I'm going into final year so I need to make the most of student life this year! :) it's a great idea to have a set number of recipes mastered, so that you can easily rustle something up without too much thought! :)

  2. Will keep this in mind babe . Thanks 4 the tipz! Xo


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