You’ve moved away from home and the whole world (and shelves of Aldi) are your oyster. The freedom of being able to cook for yourself and not having someone nag at you to clean your room or pick your socks up off the floor can be dizzying. You are quite literally free to eat whatever you like, whenever you like. And whatever you like will probably be pizza, chicken nuggets and other such goodies that tend to come in cardboard takeaway boxes. As great as this deliciously greasy freedom feels now, it won’t feel quite as good 3 months down the line when Dominoes has sent you spiralling into your overdraft.
But don’t fret! There are ways to eat great-tasting (and even sometimes healthy) foods at university without breaking the bank.
Now, you’re a university student. No one expects you to spend hours slaving over a hot stove, cooking up gourmet dishes from scratch. But that also doesn’t mean that your cooking skills have to be limited to turning on the microwave or boiling the kettle to make a Pot Noodle. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you to make, easy, nutritious and satisfying meals that would make your Mum proud.
Tip 1: Packets of microwavable rice. These are my best friends at uni. Even if my cupboards are looking sparse, if I have some packets of rice in there, I’m good to go. Microwave half a pack, add your veg of choice and serve it up with a tin of tuna, chickpeas, chicken breast or whatever protein source your heart desires. And just like that, you have a delicious meal that doesn’t come out of a takeaway box (and costs less than half the price too!)
Tip 2: Eggs are your best friend (unless you don’t like eggs. Sorry, you’ll have to skip this one). The humble egg has saved me many a night when I’ve been lacking inspiration in the kitchen. Scrambled, boiled, fried or poached- eat them on toast or with those wonderful little packets of rice we were just talking about and you’ve got yourself dinner in under 5 minutes. Throw in ham, cheese, spinach, mushrooms or whatever else you can find in your cupboards and you’ve got yourself an omelette. Is there no end to the egg’s diversity??
Tip 3: Head to the frozen aisle for your fruit and veg. We’ve all said it before; “healthy eating starts tomorrow!” So, you stock up with fruit and veg only to find it growing fur in the back corner of your fridge a couple of weeks later. To avoid turning your fridge into a breeding ground for bacteria, grab some bags of the frozen stuff. You can buy almost any fruit or vegetable in frozen form and they’re better value for money too- so it’s a win-win!
Tip 4: It’s not just the three bears that eat porridge! Before you screw your nose up, hear me out. I personally happen to think that porridge is one of the greatest breakfast foods out there for several reasons. It keeps you fuller for longer than coco pops or toast, has a good amount of fibre and it’s actually super versatile! One of my favourite things to do is get experimental with my porridge bowls and top them with things like Biscoff spread, Nutella, peanut butter, dark chocolate, honey, berries, cinnamon, cookies, nuts; you name it: I’ve probably put it on my porridge at some point! And if you’re looking to squeeze in some extra protein, then stir in a scoop of skyr yoghurt or whey protein powder once you’ve cooked your oats.
Tip 5: Buy a reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere! Half the time when I think I’m hungry, I’m just dehydrated and thirsty (especially after a Wednesday night at Ocean!) So, spend £5 on a bottle of your choice and refill it regularly. Drinking water will help keep you alert in lectures, prevent mindless snacking and your reusable water bottle is good for the planet- because it’s 2019 and we all know single-use plastic is very uncool.
By Eleanor Lucy Davidson
Feature image is original