More times than often, it is a struggle to minimise grocery spending or trying to restrain from ordering a Dominos at 11.50pm after a long library session. Being in charge of your kitchen may have sounded really tempting at the beginning of the semester, but right now, all we wish for is our mum to cook us a hearty meal. Cooking can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be. These are five tips will help you master your kitchen and save you money in the process.
Stock up your cupboard with the essentials – any kitchen needs them, whether it is that of a student or of a Michelin star chef. Spices such as salt and pepper should already be in everyone’s cupboard; however, what about oregano, paprika, garlic or vegetable stock? Furthermore, essentials such as pasta, couscous, wraps, potatoes or canned chickpeas will last forever in your cupboard, so why not store them as well.
Although every student accommodation provides its residents with the bare minimum, it is a good idea to invest in some utensils to make your life easier. A non-stick pan, some sharp knives and a sieve lay the groundwork for any further cooking. Avoid any fancy kitchen equipment: in the end, you won’t use it anyway. However, investing in a good set of Tupperware is well worth the money. And once you’ve bought the Tupperware, you may as well invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, in order to have an environmentally friendly kitchen as well as a practical one.
Ditch those fancy recipes and collect ones that won’t take a lot of time to prepare. There are some really great student cookbooks, or, if you want to keep it simple, just ask your mum or your friends for their go-to-recipes. Once you have figured out the basic recipes, plan ahead: make up a rough weekly plan and go do your food shop once a week. That way, you are more likely to stick to your budget and not to do those spontaneous Tesco-runs where you just end up buying microwavable junk food.
Leftovers are a beautiful thing. Embrace them. The next day, you can benefit from yesterday’s cooking and when in doubt, use the freezer (this is where the Tupperware comes in handy). In busy times such as exam season, you can always draw on your personal reserves.
If you are a snack-lover, make sure to always have something at home to indulge on. Tip: nuts or fruit, such as apples or mandarins, are great alternatives to sugary cookies and over-salted crisps.
The main thing you can take away from these five tips is that meal prepping is your best friend if you want to stay healthy as well as not overspend on food. And if you are in a hurry, remember your go-to-recipes. Nonetheless, as long as you make cooking a tasty and fun experience, it will always be well worth your time. After all, you are doing it purely for yourself.
Image: USDA via Flickr