You have made it through freshers week at university or college relatively unscathed. So what’s the next hurdle in student life? Well trying to feed your self on a budget can be a daunting prospective never mind actually cooking. The main advice is eating is essential! You may think that you can survive on booze and coffee but eventually you’ll be ill.
Food for many of you will be something that you have just taken for granted. You come home from school/college/work and there is a dinner waiting for you, you get up in the morning and there is cereal in the cupboard and milk in the fridge. So feeding yourself may come as a bit of a shock when you first arrive at University or College. You may think you can get by with biscuits and take-away but, depending on how flush you are, you will eventually run out of money and have to cook. But, fear not, because the following pages contain some fantastic advice on how to eat on a budget.
Students pride themselves on knowing where to buy the cheapest beans, bread and margarine. You may think students eating beans on toast is a bit of a cliché but this is just about the cheapest way to fill yourself up.
Look for “value”, “smart price” or “no frills” ranges they don’t taste quite as good as the leading brand but they don’t cost anywhere near the same.
Find out when your local supermarket closes! Because just before it closes they will be selling off stock that expires that day on the cheap. Also get to know where the “specials” are in your local and buy these as often as you can.
It pays not to be too fussy when it come to food. Don’t go shopping with a set idea of what you want to eat, make a list of the basics you need and then be flexible with the rest buy what is cheap! That way your diet is varied.
Jamie Oliver may have a kitchen full of pans, knives, funky crockery, whisks, spatulas, mandolins and blowtorches but students don’t & you don’t need them!
You can get by with a heavy frying pan, a saucepan, a stirring spoon, a spatula, a chopping board, a sharp knife, a bread knife, 2 big plates, 2 sets of cutlery, 2 large mug (large enough for serious cups of coffee or for a whole can of soup), 2 large wine glasses, 2 pint glasses, a salt grinder and a pepper grinder. This shouldn’t cost much, well within your student budget
Basics: Having these things in you cupboard all the time will mean you can always make a meal in a hurry!
Flavourings: Sugar, salt (preferably sea-salt), pepper (as in peppercorns), garlic, chilli powder, coriander, mixed herbs and stock cubes (selection).
Consumables: Rice, pasta (shapes and spaghetti), bread, potatoes, onions, tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, tinned spaghetti, tinned soup, tinned tuna, tinned anchovies and tinned meat.
Fresh stuff: Carrots, cabbages, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce and courgettes.
Fridge stuff: Cheese, margarine, Philadelphia, orange juice, beer, wine, vodka
Freezer stuff: Pizza, pies, chicken and frozen veg.
Buy a good cookbook! Jamie Oliver’s “Happy days” book is full of simple, comforting and quick dishes that are ideal for students, But unless you are Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith, start off with simple dishes and gradually learn what works and what doesn’t.
Some flavours naturally go with some meats, chicken and lemon for instance but some combinations really don’t work beef and lemon is a good example of a revolting combo!
Pasta is a freshers and students staple and goes with almost anything and is cheap and quick, but you will end up Over dosing on it!
If it doesn’t go with pasta then it will go with rice!
Meat is expensive, so use lots of veg, which is also good for you, to bulk out your meals.
Soups can make very good pasta sauces or bases for stews.
Salads are very easy, very quick and very healthy. Also if you’re a fresher with culinary or artistic flair they can look like you’ve been slaving over them for hours.
Roasting meat is a very good way of cooking food. It allows you to put your dinner in the oven and then retire to a comfy chair with a bottle of whatever but be careful not to get too drunk and forget the food is in the oven!
If any meals are included in the price of your accommodation try to get to them. If the food is bad then get it changed if they only serve breakfast till 8 o’clock then get the times changed. You are paying for a service so make sure the service works for you!
Finally, whatever your approach to cooking and eating at University, try new things. There will be people from all different backgrounds, regions and countries and they will be eating all manner of different things. Try them! University and college is a learning experience and not just in the academic sense.
And finally students have come across, as you will, some incredibly bizarre eating habits at University and college. Here are some of the strangest.
A student who ate this everyday and nothing else! 1 bowl of corn-flakes, semi-skimmed milk, a roast chicken, salad, hallumi cheese and diet coke he ate this for 3 years without change!
One girl fresher who ate only apples, biscuits and crisps for an entire first year
The student who lived on cuppa soup and lived.
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