Congratulations on getting into uni. There is so much to be excited about. I hope you will have a wonderful time.
When it comes to food, there is a lot to think about. You may know how to cook or this may be the first time you have had to think about food. In this article I’ll share some tips with you I hope you will find helpful.
Write a list of the foods you normally eat
Write down things you normally eat at home for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Put it all down. This is not a test. It’s just a good starting point.
Write a list of the foods you know how to cook
This list might be really long or have nothing on it. Writing this list helps you work out what you could cook and what you need to learn how to cook. Recipes from home can help reduce homesickness so they are good to learn.
Learn how to cook at least 7 meals
Ideally you want 7 but you can do many more. 7 gives you some variety across the week and saves you having pasta and a jar of sauce (a student staple) every night. You might need to ask for help at this point. There are also loads of videos online of different recipes. Practise them until you are confident with them. Make sure you write down the recipe.
Write a week’s meal plan
Use what you normally eat and the meals you know how to cook to make a meal plan. Include ALL your food. It’s not that you have to be chained by the meal plan but it gives you a framework to work around. It’s good to have at least one recipe which is flexible enough to use your leftover veg (chilli, curry, pasta sauces, stews, stir fries and risotto are good for this – depending on the veg)
Check that plan is nutritionally balanced
It’s all very well writing a plan but unless it is a balanced one, that’s not going to be a great start. Nutritious food is SO important for your health and immunity. Eating well could be the difference between you being able to be your best for uni and not.
Write a weekly shopping list for your meal plan
Use your meal plan to write a shopping list. If you know where you are going to live, work out which shops you can buy what you need. If you can only buy a whole bag of carrots locally and your meal plan needs just one carrot, you will need to come up with a way to use up the rest – either through other meals with carrots or batch cooking. Remember though, fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboard space can be limited in student accommodation.
Work out whether you can afford your meal plan
It’s all very well writing a plan but can you afford it. Being a student can be expensive so work out your budget and then make sure the food is affordable. Tinned and frozen fruit and veg can be cheaper. Also consider cheaper cuts of meat (not processed), pulses like beans and lentils and eggs for lower cost proteins.
Write a list of the utensils you need for your meal plan and buy them
You need all the utensils for your meals BUT remember space is limited. Also remember that other students might not be as careful with your stuff as you are. Think about the basics rather than taking the kitchen sink! (I’m not letting you out of the washing up though)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It’s easy to think uni is about learning your subject. You are of course learning your subject but you are learning so much more. It’s ok not to know everything. If you need to learn more, ask. If you are struggling to cook, ask for help. If you can’t afford to pay for food or fuel, ask. Your tutor is there to help too.
Be open to learning
It’s also about learning new foods, so aside from what I said above, think about opening your taste buds up to new horizons. I remember my friend cooking plantain for me at uni – I had never experienced it before. I learnt about new spice mixes and new cuisines.
I wish you all the best with your studies and if I can be of any help with your food journey, feel free to get in touch.