Cooking and general kitchen tips
Moving to university is often the first time you have to cook completely for yourself. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but it really is worth learning a few simple recipes that aren’t pasta pesto (it will get boring at some stage) to make cooking for yourself easier and more interesting.
As well as giving you a few ideas of the kinds of foods that I think would be useful to be able to make, I’ll be sharing a few general first year kitchen tips!
Something from home
Don’t underestimate how nice it is to be able to recreate a home comfort. Before going to uni, I wrote out the recipes for some of my favourite meals that we regularly have at home.
I’d really recommend having at least one meal from home that you can cook – if you don’t already know how to make it, have a practise over summer and you’ll have a head start for when you arrive at uni!
The great thing about cooking for one is that you can always cook the meals you like, and you’re free to try cooking whatever you want to.
If you want to try cooking something new but don’t really know where to start, I would recommend having a look at the recipes on supermarket websites and searching ‘budget’ or ‘easy’. You’ll get loads of inspiration without having to go and buy a recipe book that you might not use.
Something *very* easy
I had a pretty intense case of Fresher’s Flu, and on a couple of days I just didn’t want to spend time cooking when I felt so ill. If this happens to you, or if you’re rushing out to do something, you’ll thank your past self for getting something you can do really, really quickly.
I always kept a bag of ready-to-eat rice and something in a pouch that could be microwaved (usually a vegetable curry) in my cupboard so that if I ever needed a fast meal, I had one that could be ready within literally two minutes. Things like cous cous are also great for this situation.
I didn’t use them very often, but it was good to know that I always had a backup option if I needed it for whatever reason.
I know this isn’t really essential, but I was surprised at how much baking I did at uni. These cupcakes use a really simple all-in-one mixture and are great way to celebrate a flatmate’s birthday! You will need:
125g self raising flour, 125g caster sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 125g margarine, 2 eggs
All you have to do is put everything into a mixing bowl and stir! The cupcakes bake in around 20 minutes, so this recipe takes about half an hour from start to finish. To decorate them, you could make glacé icing (mix icing sugar and bit of water) or butter icing (mix icing sugar with butter or margarine)
You can also put the mixture into a cake tin to make one cake, but I always did cupcakes because they’re easier to share with everyone.
- You will probably have limited cupboard space, so I’d advise you to take the minimum amount of pots and pans that you can. I’d say one big saucepan and one small one is enough, and one frying pan should also be enough.
- If you’re planning to buy kitchen items new, try to make sure they’ll stack together to save yourself from a potential cupboard avalanche.
- Following along the same lines, once you’re at uni, always make a shopping list. It’s so easy to go to the supermarket and pick up much more than you need – which then won’t fit in your cupboards. Writing a list (and sticking to it) helps to stop this from happening.
- Try to have distinctive cutlery. Almost everyone turns up with the same IKEA cutlery set, and within a week or so it’s all got mixed up and things have gone missing. It’s much easier to keep track of your things if they look slightly different to everyone else’s.
- Have some cleaning supplies. My kitchen was cleaned twice a week, but between that time it could get quite messy. I’m not saying you need loads of cleaning products, but having anti-bacterial spray or wipes can be really useful after lots of people have been using the same kitchen for a few days.