You’re never too young to have a dinner party; being in student housing is probably the best possible time to have one. You know your friends’ painfully full or scarce timetable (yes, I’m looking at you my fellow History students), they probably live within a five to ten minute walk from your house, and if you know them from halls, you probably know their eating habits by watching what they overload onto your shelf in the fridge. So, do it. There’s no time like the present, the prospect of free food is always guaranteed a yes from students scraping by on their student loan, or heavily deep into their overdraft.
Food, as we know, is an essential not only just for life, but is especially important for the hungover student struggling to stay awake through their nine am lecture, listening to their lecturer drone on about something they’ll probably forget within two minutes of leaving the lecture theatre. It’s the haven you set your sights on at the end of a heavy night out full of boozing. Preferably the infamous Manzils, or the accessible Chick-o-land, perfect for those too inebriated to stumble up Bevois Valley at two o’clock in the morning after a messy Jesters night you probably won’t remember the next day. If you are feeling slightly classy, the 24-hour McDonalds after a relatively expensive night out, trying terribly hard to remember your Student ID to get that free cheeseburger.
Food connects us all; it’s something to bond over. To crave. A way to make you feel good about yourself, but also to drown your sorrows in it. This is made clear when you crack out that seventh tub of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. So, when my friends and I revelled over the fact that our deadlines before Easter had swiftly passed us, after we had found ourselves crying until the last minute to send off that extensive 4000 word essay, we decided to celebrate, but of course, in a student style, and on a student budget, with fajitas, nachos and of course, the all important Sangria and Margaritas. The thought of drinking straight Tequila on its own was too much to handle, especially as we were in for a cosy night with burritos and Netflix.
Here are some tips for hosting the perfect student night in:
- Choose your cuisine or theme for the night! It’s always easier to decide on the type of food you’re going to cook if you have a culinary origin. Opt for something you know pleases the majority, such as Mexican, Chinese or go straight for it and have a pizza night! You know Dominos always goes down well, even at four in the morning when you’re ordering it and you can’t even make out the words on your computer.
- Pick something easy (and cheap) to cook! You don’t have to choose the highest quality meat or fish from Waitrose (because honestly, what student can afford that?), or something that takes hours to cook. You don’t want to have to slave over the oven for hours on end when your friends are chatting away about the latest gossip. You want to be involved too! So pick something you know you can whack on at the last minute, or just leave and come back to at the end before serving.
- Remember the Veggies! If you’re like me and have a few friends that are vegetarian, or say they’re vegetarian even when you know you’ve seen them sneak a few chicken nuggets on a night out, keep them in mind! Buying things such as Quorn to make a veggie chilli can make them feel included, even when they know the rest of your friends eat meat.
- Bring the Booze! Alcohol is not just for a night out, or a casual drink at the pub. Make your dinner BYOB (Bring your own booze), your friends will be happy to chip in, even if it is with an intoxicating beverage. Something easy like bottles of beer, a cheap bottle of wine from Aldi, or even a few cans of cider will go down a treat.
- Something sweet?– You don’t have to be Mary Berry to bake something you know will go like hot cakes. Again, it doesn’t have to be technical or complicated. And even then, if you don’t want to or can’t be bothered to cook, in fear that you might under bake that sticky toffee pudding, grab some chocolate or sweets, cheap, simple, and always pleasing to the masses.
- Don’t be scared, and do it! These things don’t have to be daunting or pressurising. Get rid of that title “dinner party”, make that group chat and ask your mates round for dinner. It’s a great way to see those people you might not all the time, or a way to see those you haven’t seen in the lecture theatre. There is no time like the present.
Your friends will be appreciative that you’ve thought of something. Most likely, they will offer to help you cook, so you don’t have to worry about going it alone. Food unites us all, whether it be over the table at the end of a hard days work, or in a kebab shop at an unholy time in the morning. So, why wait? Everyone loves a good Jamie Oliver recipe, or BBC GoodFood, or attempting to produce that spicy chicken fajita! Cooking is therapeutic and a great way to unwind, and will definitely be a winner amongst your friends, because after all: food is great!