There are a lot of things that you have to learn and adapt to when you come to uni. Don’t let this put you off though, it’s so much more useful than you can ever imagine! Even if you’re scared of taking on mountains of ironing and an iron giant of washing up, perhaps the biggest worry to some of you may be how you’re possible going to survive without mum’s classic roast every Sunday and all of those other lovely, hearty dishes you’ve feasted on for the last 18 or so years. Food shopping always seems more fun when you’re not paying for it as well, so that’s something else you might be dreading.
As heart breaking as those thoughts may be, there is still something good to come out of being your own cook. You can eat what you want, when you want. Here are some really useful tips when it comes to not just surviving, but striving in the kitchen at uni.
- Start simple, you’re no Jamie Oliver just yet
This can’t be overstated enough and is probably the best piece of advice I can impart onto you all. Obviously, if you’ve previous culinary experience and are a confident cook, then by all means go for it. But if you’re anything like I was when I came to uni three years ago, you’re probably not even going to know how to make scrambled egg (or was it just me that didn’t know how to do that?..) It’s best to start with some simple pasta dishes, chicken is always a winner too. I’m not telling you to eat boring food, just try not to be overly ambitious if you’re new to cooking. The last thing you want to do is to waste any food because it tastes awful. That’s too costly and money gets tight very quickly!
- During freshers, keep it even MORE basic
The endless nights out and long, lazy lie ins play havoc with your body. Your body clock gets thrown completely out of the window and you don’t settle into any kind of routine until freshers is out of the way. When I moved to Derby, I was adamant that I was going to get in the gym in my first week and start eating a healthy diet. But the hangovers, lie ins and late nights made that almost impossible until freshers had been and gone. I got lots of quick, simple things in my cupboards and fridge for the first week, like some pizzas, tins of baked beans and even a few ready meals for the days when I felt particularly lazy. Some days, cooking just doesn’t appeal to you, so it’s best to prepare. It’s only for a week or two, then go out and get a big food shop with all of the stuff you want to eat from then on.
- Timing is everything
Cooking several things at the same time is an art. I always think back to a Peter Kay sketch where he mimics his mum thinking about what veg she’s forgotten to cook for dinner. She eventually leaves the peas in the microwave, and I’m sure you’ve seen you’re parents have similar stresses over the years. You may have thought it was an over-reaction, but cooking everything so it’s ready at the same time and not forgetting a single element is a fine art. There’s nothing worse than waiting on one thing to finish cooking while the rest of your food is sitting on the side getting cold. So make sure you read the instructions, it’s not a bad idea!
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s a good one to take note of because, being a student, money gets really tight sometimes. Shopping when you’re hungry might seem like a great idea when you get home and you’ve got endless goodies stashed away, but it’s only going to be silly food that you’ve spent silly money on. You always end up spending more because everything looks so damn tasty and you’re so hungry. But when you realise you’ve spent too much and you’ve got loads of Oreos, pizzas, crisps and other naughty treats, you’ll regret it. Always keep stocked on the essentials, you can never have enough pasta
- Make sure you eat your greens!
I understand that by now, I’ve probably said some things you’re parents have been drilling into you for long enough now, but I just think you need to remind yourself of these things.. seriously! I went through a stage in my first year when I couldn’t remember the last time I ate any vegetable or piece of fruit, and my body did not like it one bit. If you don’t look after your body then it will start to let you know. Like I said though, during freshers, just do your best. But once it’s out of the way, try and look after yourself as much as you can.