Like washing clothes or making your bed, cooking for yourself is one of those things many students don’t realise they don’t know how to do until they have to do it…And that’s when the fumbling with the instructions on the back of a packet of pasta starts. So in this post, I thought I’d give a few tips on how to cook for yourself at uni (and by that, I mean more than just a pot noodle).
- Eat Vegetables
This sounds straightforward – and it is – but it’s also so straightforward that many students neglect to do it. Yet in all seriousness: eat vegetables. I don’t know what you’ve been used to eating up to this point (perhaps you’ve preserved the adolescent refusal to eat green things that befalls many of us) but, chances are, your parents have snuck the odd carrot or pepper into your meals now and then. Trust them, they were wise. You might think you can live off nothing but pasta and super noodles, but believe me: you will start to feel worse if you do. Vegetables aren’t considered good for you for no reason; they have lots of vitamins that your body really does need.
2.Don’t Be Lazy
Take-aways are easy. Deceptively easy. And it’s all too common for students to let every evening mealtime become synonymous with their reaching for the leaflet of the nearest pizza place or curry house. While this can seem like an easy way of maintaining your survival, it isn’t. For starters, your average take-away meal costs around seven pounds (likely more if you want extras). I don’t know about you, but for me that’s around a quarter of my weekly shop – and for two meals at most! Resorting to your ‘Just Eat’ App too often is a sure-fire way to watch the money drain quickly out of your account. What’s more, however tasty take-aways might be, you have practically no idea what’s in them. Thus don’t be surprised if you find yourself mysteriously gaining weight after a week of chicken vindaloos.
3. Cooking is Fun (At Least it Can Be)
When you first start uni, cooking for yourself can seem like a long and arduous task. But if you bring a bit of curiosity to it, you can find it really is rewarding to learn how to cook novel and tasty dishes. Much of student’s reluctance to do this, I think, stems from inexperience. If you’ve never cooked anything substantial for yourself before, the idea of just doing a google search for recipes can seem intimidating. But once you give it a go, you’ll realise that it’s actually not as hard as it seems; and the more you do it, the more confident you’ll become. You’ll then be able to investigate dishes you’ve never tried before – even ones from the other side of the planet. A good place to start, however, is with the meals you already know you like. Did your mum cook a great spaghetti bolognaise? Ask her for the recipe and see if you can replicate it (and don’t put too much pressure on yourself if it doesn’t come out perfect first time!)
4. Vegetarian or Vegan at Uni?
When you cook for yourself, you get to make decisions about what food you buy and consume. It’s with this freedom that some students choose to go vegetarian or vegan when they move out – either for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. The first thing to say is that, if you’re considering doing it, know that it is entirely doable! (I was vegetarian for my first two terms, and have been vegan for the past year). In fact, many students elect to do it simply to save money (you might find meat is more expensive than you thought!) But if you are going to do it, be smart. Your main concern should be protein: be sure to eat lots of lentils, chickpeas, tofu, beans, seeds and nuts. Even choosing brown seeded bread over white can go a long way. Equally be sure to eat a lot of iron, as found in spinach and kale. If you’re vegan, you’ll want to invest in some B12 tablets (a vitamin you usually only get from animal products). Plus, getting healthy fats from things like avocados, peanut butter and coconut oil is a very good idea. You may also consider join VegSoc, where you can both make friends and swap great recipes! (See this link to the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UoYVegSoc/)