Advice for Freshers: Cooking for Yourself for the First Time
One of the most daunting aspects of moving away from home and learning to fend for yourself might be having to do your own washing, getting used to new house dynamics, or the new city you’re going to be living in – but for many the thought of having to buy food, plan meals and cook for yourself can be a very intimidating thought.
There are hundreds of student cookbooks available telling you how to ‘Cook on a Budget’ or ‘Learn the Basics’, but there are a few simple things you can do to help the experience a lot less overwhelming and even enjoyable.
Budgeting may seem like an obvious concept but don’t just set yourself a weekly budget – set yourself a budget for how much you’ll spend on food specifically. Once you have a set amount you’ll be able to work out how to get the most out of your limit. Going shopping on a Sunday evening when lots of food is discounted saves a lot of money, and you’ll realise how often you’re allowed that treat item within your budget. It will help you become a lot more aware of the price of basic items as well, such as milk and bread, that you normally might take for granted.
Batch cooking is a really good way to make the most of your budget. If you were to make a batch of chilli con carne it would be a great idea to make a large amount, then split it into portions and freeze. That way it saves time and means you’ll always have something delicious and nutritious on hand instead of calling that takeaway number again!
Shop at Independent Stores
I was very lucky to find a great market in my university city. It’s full of fruit and vegetable stalls which are much more affordable then a supermarket, and with much fresher produce. I never knew it was possible to buy apples, pears, strawberries, plums, avocado, leeks, carrots, broccoli and potatoes for £6 until I found the market! It’s worth checking out all the stalls as many of them offer a student discount as well.
It might sound boring and time-consuming, but it’s such a good idea to plan your meals. You don’t have to strictly stick to it but if you know that for this week you’ve got the ingredients to make 2 stir frys, a batch of bolognaise and a soup then it’ll stop you buying random items throughout the week – which will save you a lot of money in the long run.
After the first few weeks it becomes much easier to cook for yourself and you get used to it. However, these helpful pieces of advice should help you when you’re getting accustomed to the concept and will set you in good stead for the rest of the year.