Leaving home to go to university is an exciting experience. You’re becoming independent and building for your future, while meeting new friends and having lots of fun. It’s not without its challenges, however.
A big element of becoming independent is learning how to do basic tasks for yourself, such as laundry, housework….and of course, cooking.
If cooking for yourself is a daunting prospect, we’re here to share some of our top tips to set you off on your culinary journey.
Plan and Prepare Your Meals
It might not be the most obvious idea, but taking time to do a bit of meal prep for the week ahead can really save time and energy.
Having meals set out in advance means that you can have a varied, balanced diet without having to think too much about what to make.
That’s worth its weight in gold during exam period, when you’re already snowed under and tired with deadlines and revision.
It’s also a great idea to batch cook large portions and freeze rations in tupperware for the week ahead.
Preparing batches of food is a great way to avoid food waste, which is an easy trap to fall into when living alone.
Get a set of scales and measure out portions to ensure you’ve got enough to cover two or three days at a time. That way, when it comes to lunch or dinnertime, all you have to do is reheat the food and you’re good to go.
For a healthy option, try out some frozen berries. They’re great healthy snacks, perfect for study session nibbles, and they are perfect for making smoothies! If you plan your meals then you’ll narrow down your list of things to buy for the week ahead and you won’t end up overbuying and throwing out gone-off food.
Be a Savvy Shopper
Perhaps buy a recipe book to inspire you with ideas for ingredients to buy when you go grocery shopping. Make sure you buy in moderation, as you don’t want the food going off!
On that note, check expiration dates, especially for things like meat and fish, and even mushrooms.
Take a shopping list so that you don’t end up buying a million and one things just because they catch your eye in the heat of the moment. And don’t forget to look for special offers to save a bit of extra cash.
Oh, and don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Your eyes will be way bigger than your belly and you will impulse buy the entire supermarket! (Yes, we speak from experience!)
Don’t Be Wasteful
It’s difficult to stay on top of food waste if you live alone. It’s very easy to buy too much food, or to end up eating out and letting foods go off.
According to research reported in the Times, those who live alone waste around 40% more food than people who live with others.
That’s not great for the environment, as waste food contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations even declared that if food were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the USA and China! Eye opening stuff!
As you can see, planning meals and being intentional about what you’re buying even counts as doing your bit for the environment!
Even saving leftovers can help to save food, time, money, and the planet! You can repurpose your leftovers and continue enjoying your delicious creations for longer!
Ask for Cooking Tips
Your family and friends will surely have tips and tricks for making delicious meals – take advantage of their knowledge!
Most of us miss Mum’s cooking when we leave home for the first time, or dad’s desserts.
Don’t go without – ask them for recipes, and practice cooking together with them before you leave home.
Failing that, check out some YouTube videos for inspiration, as there is a mountain of information out there on how to make quick and easy recipes.
Make it Social
Another great way to pick up cooking tips (and share them) is to cook with friends. Sharing ingredients saves on food waste, and let’s be honest, it’s just more fun to spend time with your friends while preparing food.
Even doing the weekly shop with a friend can put a bit of joy into an otherwise mundane task.
Eating can be a social activity and a very fun one at that.
Taking it in turns to cook for your friends can be a great laugh, and will give you inspiration for new recipes and motivate you to keep cooking.
You could even get involved with Masterchef cooking challenge nights, and let your competitive side power your creativity!
So, there you have it.
Cooking doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be boring. It’s just a question of picking up good habits along the way, and finding out what works for you while you’re living alone at university.
Socialising and feeling truly at home while studying is so important – take a look at the flats to share with Novel’s student housing in Sheffield.