If you’re heading off to uni with limited cooking skills, don’t worry! I’ve never been a very confident chef, but over the last two years my intake of microwave meals has slowly decreased and I’ve managed to get the hang of some basics. If you’re new to cooking, here are a few simple dishes that you could practice making or start planning over the summer to set you up for your first weeks of fending for yourself!
Pasta is a staple student food – it’s cheap, quick and is a great thing to make in batches. If you think pasta is something you might eat a lot of at uni, it might be worth learning to make a few different pasta/spaghetti dishes (or experiment with a couple of different sauces that you like) so that you don’t end up eating the same pasta all the time. My dad makes great pasta mixed with green pesto, chicken and pine nuts which would be an easy dish to make as a beginner.
Eggs are also a great student meal if you’re looking for a light and healthy breakfast or lunch. Again, spend some time experimenting with different variations – find some new omelette toppings and practice making a few basic formats so that you can shake things up a bit.
Planning some lunch ideas in advance can really save time and money; buying lunch on the go can quickly add up so I would definitely recommend opting for a packed lunch whenever possible. Over the summer, why not try out some new salad recipes? Find ones which are filling and have lots of flavour to help you resist the temptation to buy food during the day. I often make a salad with quinoa, Quorn chicken pieces, tomatoes and cucumber. It makes two portions and is also filling enough to have for an evening meal.
I am known in my house for eating baked potatoes every day (what can I say, I have great taste!) but there are lots of other vegetables that you can roast to create an easy and healthy meal or snack such as parsnips, carrots and cauliflower.
Being able to make yourself a cooked breakfast is perfect for if you need a boost after a late night or just feel like some comfort food. The challenge with a cooked breakfast is multitasking, but after the first time you’ll know how long things take and you’ll be able to put together a delicious fry-up in no time.
If cooking for yourself feels a little daunting, just remember that there will be plenty of other students starting uni who will be in the same boat as you. Once you’re spending time in the kitchen every day, developing your skills doesn’t take long at all and cooking with your flatmates will give you the chance to learn from each other. Making your own meals doesn’t have to be time consuming, but putting in a little effort really makes a difference – when you eat something delicious that you’ve put together yourself, it’s so much more fulfilling (and nutritious!) than eating ready meals every day. Branch out, experiment and embrace the opportunity to learn something new!