If anything, University has made me impossibly unashamed to photograph my food in public, with the sole purpose of uploading it to Instagram and Tumblr and Facebook with the most relevant emoji I can find. But now, in true #nofilter fashion, I’ve decided to give it all a reason for being on the internet.
Cooking can be daunting, especially when you’ve never had to before. I learnt by experimentation and curiosity. I flourished through intuition and gut instinct. But a year in, and I think I’ve learnt enough tips and tricks to help new student chefs find their feet in the kitchen. These are my top 5 student recipes:
Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
I was terrified of this recipe until my second year. Before I came across this on Pinterest I thought making pasta sauce would always result in a bitter, sloppy, sorry affair of a meal. But this has just five ingredients and the hardest part is chopping an entire packet of cherry tomatoes (seriously, that seems to take an age). Named “The Best Pasta Sauce Ever”, this recipe is not lying to you.
Just pop the leftover sauce into a freezer bag, then let it cool before freezing. I’ve added homemade meatballs to this pasta dish, but it works just as well with chicken or vegetables. This works out at roughly 70p per portion, but much cheaper if you go and have a scout around York’s fruit and vegetable market for your cherry tomatoes.
This dish is less diverse in terms of what you can have it with, but you can easily make lots of variations and it’s a great way to make mince meat go a long way. Again, put any extras in a freezer bag and freeze (if you already froze your mince meat before making the meatballs, make sure you cook them before refreezing). It’s best to freeze meatballs in one portion sizes – they have a tendency to stick together in the freezer.
Measuring cups – I could not believe how many recipes were in cups, not grams! Try and find ones that have the measurements embossed onto them – the writing on my first set washed off after about a week.
A food processor – this one isn’t essential, but they can be amazingly time-saving. I bought myself this one about a year ago, and it makes vegetable preparation a five minute job. The whisk attachment is ideal if you ever do any baking, and the hand blender is great for soups and smoothies.
All in all I made 7 veggie burgers, but there were a few unsalvageable disasters. Cook them all, then freeze the extra.
This one possibly takes the most time and effort, but it will give you a good month’s worth of breakfast! I don’t include the nuts in this recipe and it works just as well – I just substitute them with more oats. Perfect with milk, fruit yoghurt, greek yoghurt or fresh fruit, store it in an airtight container (following this recipe fills a 3 litre jar) and it will last you at least 6 weeks.
Oatmeal Energy Clusters
You can’t go to university without some serious snack game. Buying from the campus shops or the library adds up, and there’s nothing worse than working while hungry. These oatmeal energy clusters can be adapted infinitely – the ones below are substituted with white chocolate chips and cranberries – meaning you can easily switch up your snacks. The one adaptation I make to these I-can’t-quite-wait-until-tea-time snacks is the honey; it makes the recipe slightly more expensive but substituting honey for agave syrup makes them a little bit healthier. Agave syrup is quite tough to find in the supermarket, but Tullivers Health Shop in the city centre stocks it. Again, store in an airtight container and they’ll last at least 6 weeks.
The recipes above were all made during my first term of second year, while working a part-time job. Cooking doesn’t have to mean hours slaving over a hot stove; there’s time in the busiest of timetables to make delicious dishes that don’t cost the earth.