If you’ve been to a university open day and looked around the accommodation, you’ve most likely thought something along the lines of: ‘Looks good; a bit cosy, but I can fit all the stuff I need in here’. Your parents on the other hand were more likely to be thinking ‘Let’s have a look at the kitchen – I need to make sure my baby will be eating more than Pot Noodles’.
Believe me, you won’t starve. OK, you’ll be busy socialising and studying, but preparing something quick and easy to eat will become second nature. You’ll become a master of one-pot dishes ; become king (or queen) of the grill, and master the art of the perfect pizza. And if you’re not a dab hand in the kitchen before you head off to uni, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll pick things up. Take a look at our tips on how to get a decent meal inside you during term time:
YouTube guides to student cooking
At uni, YouTube isn’t just for avoiding revision, you can use it to help you stay healthy too. By simply searching ‘student cooking’, you can find hundreds of channels and videos offering tips on how to cook. They might not all be to your taste, but it’s worth having a skim through when you can’t bear another night of microwave noodles.
Student recipes straight from UEA halls
One of the best things to look at are tips and advice from current students. Student bloggers Katie, Anne-Sophie and Georgia have all been experimenting in the kitchen, often surprising themselves with their results. UEA have also put together this useful cook book: A Taste of UEA Residences, with tried and tested recipes from students living in halls.
Eating well on a student budget
As well as being a bit of a chore, cooking for yourself at uni can be expensive. Yes, there are shops on campus, but you might want to venture further afield. Luckily there are plenty of supermarkets to help you out. Lidl, Aldi and Iceland are all accessible by bus, and the main supermarkets will deliver to campus. The Union run a Vegbox scheme, where you can pre-order fruit and vegetables to be delivered to campus each week, making it a bit easier to stay healthy during term time.
Making the most of student accommodation
Admittedly, storage space in halls is limited, especially in the kitchen where you’re supposed to fit an entire flat’s food in one room. Some residences have additional locker space, but this isn’t always the case, so you have to be smart. Don’t bring anything you know you won’t need, even if you think it’s a good ‘just in case’ product. Organise boxes or tins as best you can; save space by decanting half empty packaging, and don’t be afraid to be resourceful with your storage!
Save on food bills by buying in bulk
It happens to everyone; you’ll get to the end of the semester, be drowning in coursework deadlines and barely have enough of your loan left to buy a pint. Thankfully, a bit of careful planning can prevent embarrassing phone calls to your parents begging for one last fiver. When checking out those YouTube recipe videos, try doubling or tripling the ingredients to make extra. Most food can be frozen and reheated later on, and you can find food storage boxes in every pound or discount shop in the city. Just be sure not to completely forget about it- no one wants to eat 6-month-old Bolognese.
The combination of living away from home and meeting new people can be daunting, but there are ways to work around your nerves. Flat-meals are a great way of getting to know your housemates. Rotate cooking duties throughout the semester, and you’ll know you’ve got at least one decent meal coming your way. Plus it’s a good way to try out new meals you would never have dreamed of eating before.
Moving into halls can be scary, particularly if you’re fond of home cooked comfort food, but you don’t have to live off pasta and cereal. If you pick up some cooking tips before you go, and shop around for new ideas, you’re sure to stay healthy and well fed.