I think a lot of people find the idea of cooking for themselves pretty daunting. Its probably one of the things that people worry about the most when moving out by themselves and I know that there are a ton of people who dilly and dally between self catered accommodation choices and catered accommodating choices based on that alone. And where does this worry come from? In all honesty, I think it comes from our parents. Before I moved out my mum was constantly saying things about me not being able to cook for myself, jokingly. I don't think she meant it in a harsh way, I think she was just worried about not having me there. A lot of other parents are the same. But don't be worried, cooking for yourself isn't actually as hard as it may seem.
Its roughly two months until university starts. So by cooking one or two new meal(s) a week before you go you'll have quite a few dishes under your belt by the time that you are ready to go. Its much easier to learn all this stuff now than when you're actually at uni. If you eat bad, you'll feel bad!
Porridge is a great staple to know how to make. Because once you can make it you can customise it in so many ways. I love a little bit of syrup and frozen raspberries on mine. Although its a pretty Scottish thing to put salt on your porridge! Weird huh? Basically this is something that's really warm and filling and not to mention cheap. Perfect for wintery days in cold cities like Edinburgh.
This isn't really essential but knowing how to make pancakes or French toast is really helpful, especially on the weekends. Making things like this with your flatmates can be a great thing to do, everyone can contribute a topping! Me and my friend celebrated pancake day together, everyone brought something and it was a great time!
As a student, you're probably going to wake up with a hangover at some point. And what better to help you feel a bit better in the morning than a big, greasy fry up. Especially in Edinburgh, we Scots take unhealthy food very seriously. Definitely something you should master before coming to uni!
One of the easiest things to make is soup. I have this recipe for leek and potato soup on my blog and I make it all the time. One massive pot gives about 7 portions which I'll put in tubs and freeze. That way I can easily take them out and eat them whenever I feel like it. Soups are such a great way to get in the veggies and are perfect when you want to feel cosy and homey.
One of your flatmates will probably bring a toastie machine that will be loved by all the flat. You can put almost anything in a toastie and they're really quick and easy to make. Butter on the outside of the bread, fillings on the inside. Perfect.
I'm not a massive fan of eggs but if you are then you should really learn to make them in a few different ways. Things like omlettes, scambled eggs and poached eggs on toast make great, easy lunches. I really wish I did like them because I know they're so good for you but something about the texture just gets me every time.
I have a recipe on my blog for a puff pastry tart(link here) and its something that I cook for myself all the time. I love it because I can use whatever is in the fridge as a topping. I tend to buy ready made pastry when its on offer and keep it in the freezer until I need it. I'll normally make this for dinner and then have the rest of it for lunch the next day.
You can make really quick and easy pizzas yourself by using things like baguettes, pitta breads and wraps as the base. My favourites to use are the part baked rolls you can buy or pitta breads as both of these freeze really well. You can use whatever toppings you have in the fridge or maybe even some leftovers to mix it up a little bit! So easy but tastes so much better than a Domino's(and better for you too).
Things like pastas are a really good thing to be able to make. They're a pretty big student stereotype but you can mix it up! A basic tomato sauce, mac and cheese and pesto pasta are my staples. You can then bulk these out with meats like sausage, bacon, chorizo and veggies like onions, tomatos, peppers, sweetcorn etc. You can add exactly what you like.
Another great meal that's easy to make is a good old stirfry. I normally buy some form of sacheted/jarred sauce though because making your own can be a bit more complex and time consuming. I'll start of by frying some meat(normally chicken or beef) and then add veggies. Or if you're a vegetarian you can use only veggies. Meals like this are great because you can bulk them up with veggies which is much cheaper than buying a lot of meat. Then once they've cooked I'll add some noodles and the sauce and that's the meal finished. Really quick to make! Doesn't take more than 15/20 minutes.
One thing to make with your flatmates is fajitas as pretty much everyone likes this easy Mexican dish. Just chop up a load of veggies and some sort of meat(or leave them veggie whatever floats your boat) and fry them with some seasoning. Then serve up in tortilla wraps with sour cream, salsa and maybe even some guacamole. Yum! The leftovers will freeze pretty well or you could make something like enchiladas the next day if you're not sick of Mexican food already!
A lot of my friends do a lot cooking with lentils and beans and this is a great way to get a lot of nutrients into your diet as they are so good for you. I hate to admit that I can be a picky eater when I want to be and this is something I've never tried. Next semester, I really want to try this out for yourself.
I would also recommend learning how to do potatoes or sweet potatoes in several different ways. With regular potatoes I love to dice them up really small and roast them with chilli and garlic. And my current love for sweet potatoes is to make sweet potato fries with cayenne pepper and paprika for seasoning. So tasty! But you can also bake, roast, mash them and make things like wedges as well. These make a great side dish so things like chicken breasts etc.
So there you have it! Some easy meal ideas for cooking at university. Basically you should use your summer to learn how to cook the things that you like to eat at home as ultimately these are the sort of things you will crave! I hope this post will be of help to some of you!
Previous Student Sundays posts: Intro, Getting Started, Accommodation, Cooking For Yourself, Making Halls Home, What To Pack For University, Friends & Flatmates, What's In My Uni Bag, Saving Money On Food, Fresher's Week Survival Guide, What To Expect From Classes.