So you’re all ready for uni: you’ve got your laptop, an impressive selection of fancy dress and your favourite posters. But have you thought about what you’re going to eat? That’s right, three times a day, every day, you’re going to have to feed yourself – and it’s harder than it looks!
Sure you could break the record for the most packet noodles eaten in a year, but you’ll be rewarded with tiredness, grumpiness and bad skin. Follow these easy tips to eat properly and keep yourself looking and feeling great.
1. Have the right equipment
Boiling eggs in the kettle is not recommended (believe us, we’ve tried). Kitchen basics don’t need to cost much, but look after them and they’ll see you through university. These essentials are pretty much all you need to get you started:
- Wooden spoons
- A couple of non-stick pans in different sizes (non-stick is well worth the bit extra when it comes to washing up!)
- Non-stick frying pan
- Baking tray
- Chopping knife
- Chopping board
- Scales (weighing out portions of rice and pasta will save you a fortune in wasted food – check the back of the packet if you’re not sure how much you need)
- A toaster and kettle aren’t provided in our kitchens, but don’t worry about bringing your own – it’s much easier to club together with your flatmates and sort it when you’re here.
2. Pick up some skills before you go
Chopping an onion shouldn’t mean twenty frustrated minutes and the loss of one of your fingers. Watch whoever does the cooking at home, and maybe even offer to help. Alternatively, learn from the masters by watching online videos from top chefs. With a bit of observation and practise you’ll be a kitchen ninja before you know it.
3. Club together for basics
There’s no need to have four individual loaves of bread going mouldy in the cupboards. Join forces with your housemates to buy basics and you’ll save money buying in bulk, and throw away much less waste too. The supermarket is way more fun if you go with your buddies!
4. Cook for each other
If you’re shopping together, why not eat together too? Taking it in turns to cook for your flatmates is a great way to get to know each other, with the bonus of someone else making your tea for you once a week. So often we eat quickly and alone, not even thinking about what we’re shovelling into our mouths. This is your chance to sit down together, have a laugh with your friends and really enjoy your food – add a bottle of wine and you have the makings of a great night in.
5. Plan your meals
Nobody wants to go to the supermarket every day, so plan your meals and do one big shop each week. Not only will it save you time, but you’ll have all the ingredients you need ready to hand.
6. Try eating veggie
Good vegetarian food is cheap, healthy and tasty. There’s no need to give up burgers and sausages completely but think about planning a couple of meat-free meals a week.
If you’re giving it a go make sure you’re still getting plenty of protein to keep you full. Chickpeas or lentils will soak up the spices in a curry really well, or you can replace the mince in chilli with extra mixed beans and loads of peppers and mushrooms.
You could also try meat-free sausages and mince, they’re lower in fat and in a good stew or sauce, you’ll hardly tell the difference.
7. The freezer is your friend
Think ahead and cook extra portions of stews and sauces. Stick them in the freezer when they’re cool and you have emergency supplies for those days when you can’t be bothered or need food fast. Simply reheat in the microwave or a pan, making sure that it’s piping hot all the way through.
Frozen fruit and veg keep for ages and are a really easy way to give a healthy boost to your meals. Chuck mixed vegetables in with your noodles, add spinach to your pasta, or blend berries straight from the freezer with milk or yoghurt for a delicious breakfast smoothie.
8. Make it tasty
Student food doesn’t have to be boring – a few simple ingredients can take your cooking to the next level.
Invest in a house collection of herbs and basic spices: mixed herbs, basil, cumin, coriander and paprika should do the trick. Squeezy tubes of garlic are a must too. Seasoning can really bring your food to life, so don’t forget salt and pepper. And if in doubt, a stock cube is a sure fire way to perk up sauces, stews and rice.
Now is the time to branch out in condiments too. Sweet chilli sauce, Tabasco, Worcester sauce, mayonnaise and pesto will cheer up the most boring of dishes (just not all at once!)
9. Make packed lunch
Soggy lettuce, measly filling and dry crusts - let’s face it, packet sandwiches are rubbish. It doesn’t take much to cobble together a sandwich at home and wrap it up in foil. Grab a pack of crisps or chop up some carrot sticks and you’ve got yourself a cheap and tasty lunch.
If you’re feeling creative there’s a whole world beyond cheese and pickle. Try brie and mango chutney, tuna and pesto or sweet chilli chicken!
10. Don’t forget the washing up!
After creating a culinary masterpiece it’s tempting to just flop on the sofa, but skip the washing up and you’ll be cursing yourself the next day. Dried on food is gross and a nightmare to get off, so save yourself the trouble by washing up as you go along, or getting it done straight after you’ve eaten.
Learning to cook is probably not top of your list of uni experiences, but it’s a skill that will help you out for life. Whether it’s dishing out a hearty bowl of pasta for your mates, impressing your date with a home-cooked meal, or knocking up a life-saving cooked breakfast, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Starting university is a huge step in your life, so make sure you keep reading our blog for insider advice on student living.