Something that isn’t really thought about in the run up to receiving your university offers is “what am I going to eat at uni?”. This is probably because the lure of takeaway in a city is fairly strong, and if all else fails a delivery driver can be at your flat pretty quickly. As much as you may love a McDonald's after a night out or a trip to Nando's with your friends, that doesn’t mean you can have it for dinner every night. At some point you’re going to have to give in and cook something yourself, for the sake of your health and your wallet!
Here are a few things I would recommend to any prospective university student to help make cooking easier:
1) A griddle pan, it`s like a frying pan but better! Use it to cook a butterflied chicken fillet to give it that nice barbecued look, and make it taste like it’s been seared. You can sizzle some baby tomatoes on the top until they start to brown and then they will have a similar taste to BBQ’d tomatoes.
2) You really should bring at least one cook book to uni. Although subsisting off £1 noodles from Aldi is seen as student cuisine, noodles do not make the most nutritious, filling or delicious meal. A lot of cook books will give you some great ideas and easy instructions to follow, I’d personally recommend “Best Ever 400 Budget Recipes” by Lucy Doncaster. This book contains everything from quick meals to desserts, from meaty steak pies to vegan pasta. It’s really helped me when I can’t think of anything else to cook.
3) A wok. As a student one of your closest friends will be homemade pasta dishes, and there is no easier, and without hassle, way of making good pasta dishes than putting all the ingredients together in a wok. A wok is also great for making stir frys, a good meal for getting some vegetables in your diet. If you’re not too keen on stir fry, it can make quite a good bacon cooking implement when you can’t find the energy to wash the proper frying pan.
4) A good knife, you know those knives your parents always told you not to touch as a child because “they’re too sharp”? Well, when you go to uni you are going to want to get a good, sharp knife. A sharp knife really is the safest way to prepare meat or vegetables, as it’s less likely to slip when cutting things like tomatoes. It also allows kitchen prep to go by a lot faster and means that the prep feels like less of a chore.
5) Tupperware, cooking a lot of food is easier than cooking a small amount, as anyone who has ever tried to size up the right amount of spaghetti can tell you. When the time comes, and you do inevitably cook far more food than is needed, you can put it in some Tupperware, meaning that you now have tomorrow’s lunch already prepared.
6) Spices, now you don’t need a spice rack with hundreds of spices, just get the spices you like and that you’re most likely to use. I would recommend getting sea salt over table salt, it’s better to cook with and slightly crunchy. Garlic salt is another great addition to your cupboard, it’s like crushing up a garlic clove for people who don’t want to be reminded of the smell on their hands four days later, and get some pepper too. Chicken/BBQ seasoning is great as it’s got all the fancy spices in one easy package, and it can be used liberally on anything and everything you cook to give it that little kick.
7) A slow cooker is a real must have. Do you ever want someone else to do the cooking for you? A slow cooker can do all the waiting and stirring for you, just throw your ingredients inside before you head to uni, and come back home to a delicious meal waiting for you, what’s not to love? A gammon joint slowly cooking in half a bottle of old rosy cider is one of the best meals I’ve ever made at uni.