Cooking at University: Dos and Don’ts
Cooking at home is a completely different experience to cooking at university (unless you are alone in the kitchen) and so here are some of my tips!
Ditch the Cookbooks and stick to what you know (at first)– When you first arrive at University it can be overwhelming to organise your room let alone organise what you are going to eat. As well as this, the start of university is also the main time to socialise and go out which leaves you with little time to cook. Rather than worrying about what to make, stick to what you know at first even if it’s as simple as beans on toast. From my personal experience, my mum cooked me some food to have on the first few nights so I could settle in and not worry about trying to fight with the hobs. As the weeks go by you will be more comfortable in the kitchen and that’s the best time to start cooking fancy meals. The reason I mention to ditch cookbooks is because I found them to be quite inconvenient for students. They often contain niche ingredients that you won’t use again, take too long or use utensils that you don’t own. They are also expensive. Instead using online recipes from websites like good food means you can filter through with ingredients you have. If anyone has found a cookbook that is good for students, comment it on this post!
Do Meal Prep– When it comes to the end of term it gets super busy regarding uni work and exams. Instead of taking an hour or two each day in the kitchen to cook a new meal, the best way to manage time is by meal prepping. Cooking a big batch of food means that it might take a little longer on the first day but for the next few it will take 10 minutes to heat it up. Whilst it can be repetitive it is also quite efficient. Alternatively, one thing I did was make a versatile sauce on one day and for the next few I would use it on rice and pasta. Buying some containers will help you portion for your meal planning!
Buying in bulk will save you money– When it comes to the staple foods, buying in bulk will save you money. For example buying the biggest bag of pasta will probably save you a few quid, similar with rice. And remember when buying spices and dry herbs to try to buy the most versatile and expand as you learn new recipes and things to cook.
Don’t steal food from your flatmates– This is a problem at all universities and will probably never end but if you are reading this blog, please don’t do it. Not only might they have needed that specific ingredient for their meal but it’s also something they have bought. If you do want to use something, ask them and I’m sure they would let you use it.
Do use cooking as a way to socialise– One of my favourite things to do at university was to cook with one of my flatmates. Whether it was making pancakes in the morning or just even just having meals together in the kitchen it gave both of us time to wind down and get to know each other more.
Do be regular with meal times– Being regular with meal times not only means that you will become more organised with time but from personal experience when I wasn’t eating properly it affected quite a few aspects of my life. I would get stomach aches from eating so late and then mentally would face headaches. It’s so important to keep your body fuelled so make sure you are eating enough! Another benefit is you will be able to understand other peoples cooking times so not too many people use the hobs at the same time.
Don’t ever be afraid to eat the food you want to eat– I’m specifically talking about cultural foods that people don’t necessarily know. Even though it’s a new place doesn’t mean you need to be cooking the same things that everyone else does. Have fun with food and experiment with your cultures cuisine and ignore anyone who makes judgments. Also I found it was such a comfort to have Indian food at university because it reminded me of home.
University is full of new experiences including cooking, once you learn around the kitchen you will be fine! and remember to wash your tea towels!