Student Food: Useful Items to Encourage Cooking for Yourself

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I found my love of cooking during Freshers’ week in first year. A lot of students decide to pick a self-catering accommodation in first year and adding these products to your shelves will make it a lot easier to ditch the ready-meals and learn to cook for yourself.

  1. A decent non-stick pan. My small pan lasted 2 years and was only £2.25 from IKEA. Having a decent pan will make it easier to scrub off gross egg-residue after that morning fry-up you needed after a big night out.
  2. Dry herbs and spices. I get mine from the International Foods on Portswood high street but they are available in the exotic aisle of supermarkets too. A pack can be as little as 60p for 100g. These will make any boring dish more interesting. I would recommend getting bags of spices instead of the jars because they are a lot less expensive. My most used spices are pepper, paprika, oregano, and cinnamon.
  3. Potted fresh herbs. Disclaimer: I have never managed to keep these alive for long enough for it to be worth it but basil, mint, and coriander live easily in your kitchen as long as you remember to water them. They make great decor for your kitchen too! An alternative is a bunch bought from International Foods for under a pound for a very generous amount.
  4. Food clips. Do your cereals always go stale before you finish them? Does your rice cover the floor of your shelves when you have half a bag left? Don’t worry! Food clips are the solution. These can also be used to close open packets of dry herbs.
  5. Metal cooking tongs. I don’t know why more people don’t have these. They make cooking easier: turning over steak, chicken, or potatoes. Picking up food to put on your plate. Just make sure you don’t scrape non-stick pans with them as they reduce the life considerably.
  6. An oven thermometer. If your oven at university is a bit rubbish (you’ll know if it’s rubbish because your pizza won’t be cooked properly after the instructed time on the box) then an oven thermometer might be a useful purchase. I found this one for £1.05.
  7. A sharp knife (or two). Contrary to popular belief, you are a lot less likely to cut yourself if you have a very sharp knife. This makes prepping vegetables for an ambitiously healthy dinner that much less time-consuming.
  8. On the same vein, a vegetable peeler will save a lot more of the vegetable than peeling with a knife. 85p each from IKEA. As you can probably tell, I am very fond of IKEA.
  9. Food storage containers (a.k.a Tupperware) – the most wasteful thing about cooking is being a bit optimistic with portion sizing. Unless you want to cook every night, I would suggest cooking 2 or 3 portions with most meals because you can take a Tupperware of leftovers to microwave in the Union building for lunch. Reduces your waste and saves you money.
  10. An oven tray. I have accumulated about 7 of these – you only need one. I found some in Poundland which work well enough but if they get too hot they like to buckle and warp. TK Maxx is also a great place to buy good quality cooking stuff for a good price.
  11. A good sponge with a scourer bit (they are often yellow and green). Although not directly linked to cooking this is something that you need. I am often annoyed by having disgusting sponges that are not removing the grime off my pots and pans. Clean after use and do not leave in the water for the next person. Unless you hate them.
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