If your idea of cooking involves no more than boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea, then you must have had a shock when you left home for University.
Not to worry, we have some handy tips that can help you through your year away from home.
Pizza and takeaways will certainly get you through the first few days but there will come a point when there’s no alternative but to locate the kitchen and put together a passable meal.
Although the thought of preparing food from scratch might fill you with dread, it’s well worth the effort. The secret is to literally begin at the beginning and don’t try to jump into this cooking malarkey headfirst.
Here are a few things to sort out before you can start cooking:
- Clean the kitchen. Yes unfortunately, before you can even make yourself a cup of tea, you should give the kitchen a thorough clean. Apart from attracting unwanted furry friends, a dirty kitchen can be a health hazard.
- When you’re happy that your kitchen is in working order and you have the minimum requirements to prepare a simple meal, it’s time to start cooking. Ease yourself in gently with something like beans on toast. It’s always a good idea to get to know your oven before attempting anything too creative, as they do vary considerably.
- Buying food that will last is an important consideration when you're a student. Living in halls means things won't be re-stocked quite as often or efficiently as they were back at home. With this in mind, it's important to have a few long-lasting, staple ingredients that you can always fall back on to make a meal. If you're dashing in from lectures and then into Edinburgh, you want a quick bite to eat that will fill you up. You don't want to be shoving a lump of cheese between two crusts of bread that have seen fresher days.
- Buy certain provisions that will last for months and can be stacked up in the cupboard. Of course, if you then have some other fresh ingredients, use these to liven up plain dishes, but the idea is that you don't need to rely on them all the time.
- Pasta, rice and couscous are all great for quick, easy meals. If you're really in a hurry, choose from the range of quick-cook pastas. Couscous works well with any combination of tomatoes, olives, lemon juice, pulses and peas. Obviously, if you have meat and other vegetables do use them too.
- A few curry sauces and pasta sauces should help you out of tricky situations. Passata (sieved tomatoes) is great if you want to make your own sauce, while jars of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and pickles will provide a bit of extra zing for sauces or pizza toppings.
- Cans of tuna and salmon are obvious essentials for combining with rice or pasta for quick, filling meals. Chopped tomatoes are great for whipping up a quick pasta sauce. Look out for varieties with added herbs or garlic. Chickpeas and other pulses are ideal for veggie curries, whilst baked beans are the ultimate snack food and can be eaten with any meal.