Food glorious food: How to not starve at university
One of the things people often struggle with when they first start at uni is cooking for themselves. If you’re not used to cooking often, coming to uni and suddenly being expected to cook three meals a day every day for the whole term can seem daunting. Although eating ready meals everyday or ordering takeaway can be quicker and more convenient, it can also get expensive very quickly. Preparing your own meals from scratch can be very rewarding as it can save you money and also allows you to eat healthier as you know exactly what is going into your food. Plus, it can also be useful if you’re a picky eater as you can use only the ingredients you like to make a meal that you’ll definitely enjoy. Here, I will share some tips on how to get started with cooking for yourself.
1. If you think you’re not a good cook or that cooking is hard, start with really simple meals that don’t need many ingredients. Find simple recipes online or from a cookbook that you can follow when you’re first starting out such as omelettes or toasted sandwiches
2. A good way to transition into cooking your own meals is to start gradually by replacing one meal a week with something you cook yourself. For example, if you like to eat a mac and cheese ready meal every Tuesday evening, try cooking it yourself one week by boiling your own pasta and making a simple cheese sauce.
3. People often say that they don’t know what to cook for themselves and the answer to this is to just learn to cook the things you enjoy eating. If you’re obsessed with spaghetti Bolognese, learn how to cook that one dish for yourself. Another alternative is learning to cook the meals your parents usually cook for you. If your mum makes amazing Shepperd’s pie and you miss eating it while at uni, get the recipe from her then try to make it yourself. One of the best things about being able to cook is that you can make and eat your favourite meals every day of the week if you want to. You know better than anyone else what foods you like or don’t like and cooking your own meals means you are almost guaranteed to enjoy every meal.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of frozen vegetables. Despite what you may think, frozen veg is just as healthy and nutritious as fresh veg and it also keeps for much longer. I recommend buying a bag of frozen mixed veg which you can store in the freezer ready to add to whichever meal you’re making. This way, you don’t have to worry about fresh food going off before you have a chance to use it.
5. If you often finish lectures late in the evening, meal prepping will be very helpful. When you have time (for example at the weekend) cook a batch or two of food for a few days the next week that you can store in the fridge and simply reheat at dinner time. This means you can still have a quick and simple meal, without the extra costs or added salts and fats of ready meals. If you’re very organised, you could even prepare multiple weeks’ worth of food to be frozen then defrosted as needed.
6. Some ingredients I recommend to always have in your cupboard are pasta, noodles, rice and tortillas. These items can be paired with almost any kind of leftovers to make a whole new meal. For example, leftover vegetables can be stir fried and served with noodles, or leftover meat can be cooked and added to tortillas to make tacos or burritos.
7. If your flatmate makes something that looks amazing one night, ask them how they made it and try and make it for yourself sometime. Alternatively, if your friend is an amazing cook, cooking a meal with them may teach you some new skills that you can incorporate into your own cooking. Cooking with your flatmates can be fun and can also introduce you to new foods you’ve never tried before.
I hope these tips are useful in encouraging you to try and cook more meals for yourself. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below!