By Sarah Rousseau
So you’re a fresher and the only meal you know how to cook is beans on toast? That’s okay! I am here to share a few tips and tricks on surviving fresher’s famine whilst keeping the cost at a low.
Sharing is Caring
We've all heard the saying but never has it been truer than regards to freshers. Most flats will have one skilled cook and one very unskilled cook; wherever you sit on the scale it doesn't matter because in a new environment a great way to spend time and get to know your roommates is to cook together. Start by asking what people’s favourite meals are and if they are allergic to anything then suggest maybe cooking a meal a week together and see how it goes from there. Suggest a curry night or spaghetti evening; most roommates would love the idea of saving money plus spending time together. Not only that but you can all swap tips, you can learn a lot from cooking with others!
Another way to share the costs of food between roommates is to establish communal foods. Try and agree upon some household items and foods which you can split the cost of or take turn in buying. For example things like olive oil, washing up liquid, salt and pepper are the most popular communal items which you could suggest amongst your new roommates. It is a great way to save money and to avoid having 6 bottles of salt scattered around the kitchen.
Tip: When suggesting communal foods, be sure that you all agree on which items to share. Try to be flexible where possible and to always be understanding when somebody would prefer to keep a certain item personal.
There are smart ways to shop so that eating healthily won’t break the bank. Take advantage of living in a city, if you do, and mix up where you buy your food from. We all know that Aldi, Lidl and Iceland are great stores for buying food on a budget but you can try local markets or take advantage of any farmers markets where you can get quality ingredients at a great price.
Tip: Try buying fruit and vegetables for the week or preferably on a day to day occasion, for example, picking up some lettuce on the home from university. This way you are more likely to eat your perishables before they spoil. If you haven’t gotten around to eating something and know that it is soon to go off, make sure to put it in the freezer! Your freezer will become your best friend in university so never be afraid to put that packet of mince or bag of carrots in there before they go to waste!
Cooking for one can be daunting and you will most likely always make too much, but that is a good thing! Making enough for one is almost always impossible so don’t be afraid to make too much because those left overs can be saved for the next day, or even frozen, and make cooking less of a chore. Just because you make too much doesn't mean you have to eat it all in one sitting!
Tip: If you know that you are going to have a busy week at university or have a deadline coming up, try making a large lasagna that you can divide into portions and put in the fridge and freezer so that you don’t have to worry about preparing dinner throughout the week.
Thinking about cooking dinner, or even taking on a new dish, may seem like you've signed up to an episode of MasterChef but with the internet at our fingertips, cooking has never been easier. Use the internet to search recipes, get inspiration or even watch cooking videos to learn tips and tricks. Cooking from scratch doesn't have to be difficult, try out some easy meals at first to get you started.
Try searching for some recipes or videos on some of the following easy meals:
- Chicken Pasta Bake
- Cottage Pie
- Prawn Thai Green Curry
And remember, if the idea of making sauces terrifies you then you can always buy them. Take advantage of Dolmio’s or a bit of curry paste, whatever makes your life easier and cheaper is the best way to eat.
Tip: Always have a fall back no-fuss meal for those super lazy days, things jacket potatoes or super noodles are great options for when you are rushed for time or exhausted after a busy day.