How to cook as a student
broccoli with meat on plate
Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

How to go from Kitchen Disaster to Culinary Master

Jennifer Prince January 21, 2022

I’ll be honest, the title of this article promises a lot. As a self-confessed terrible cook turned mildly less atrocious, I sympathise with every student that suddenly finds themselves wondering: How do I fry an egg? That was, embarrassingly, what I googled on my first day at university. From then on, it’s been a steep curve of learning what a casserole is and how not to burn pasta. I didn’t know that was actually possible, but even I surprise myself sometimes. Yes, it is painfully obvious I am the youngest sibling. So, instead of being stuck with takeaways, cereal, pot noodles, and toast, here are some ways to improve your kitchen prowess. If there was a ‘most improved cook’ award in my student house, sorry girlies but I am claiming that trophy.

Start simple

Look, there is no way you are going to become Gordon Ramsay in the space of a week. More realistically, you might resemble Gwen and her omelettes from Gavin and Stacey. So, starting with some simple staple meals will start you off well. Assuming freezer food is well within your capabilities, learning to cook pasta, rice, and potatoes are a must. Beyond this, one recipe that is a doddle, is a stir fry. As recommended by my hairdresser, buying some noodles, a sauce packet, and some vegetables from the supermarket means ‘you just chuck it all in a pan’. Easy.

Ask around

Friends and family should be the first point of call for learning new recipes. They likely know what you like and can show you in person how to cook something step by step so you can have a go. Shoutout to my dad for teaching me how to make a mean vegetable chilli.

Not everything needs to be from scratch

Honestly who can be bothered, or has the time, to cook everything from scratch as a student? I certainly can’t. There’s nothing wrong with buying curry sauce in a jar, freezer chicken nuggets, pesto, the list goes on. The most important thing to save money and get the right ingredients is to make a shopping list and never shop hungry.

Have the essentials

On that all-important first big shop, getting a few essentials makes cooking ten times easier. Essentials here means things that you would always expect to have in your cupboard at home, that you do not always realise you need. Items such as: oil, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, generic herbs and spices, and tomato ketchup.

The internet is your best friend

I cannot stress enough how many good cooking recipes and resources there are on the internet – all for free! Without spending a single penny, you can have access to learning to cook almost anything. TikTok especially is a life-saver. There are a lot of easy-to-follow cooking videos that contain the recipe and step by step instructions. Step aside Nigella Lawson.

Freezers are magic

Buying freezer friendly items such as meat or vegetables is a sure-fire way of making sure you do not buy a lot of perishable food that goes off before you know what to do with it. It is also useful to batch cook one meal and freeze some potions to have at a later date. Most of all it is just nice to know that you have some chicken nuggets and potato smiley faces to stick in the oven to fall back on.

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Jennifer is a Manchester-based freelance journalist and has been writing for Freshered since its launch in November 2021. She graduated in December 2022 from The University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) degree in English Literature, where she spent much of her time writing and reporting for Redbrick Newspaper. A lover of variety, Jennifer covers topics ranging from university advice, live music and theatre reviews, to news and current events, but seeks to expand her work to cover sustainability and the climate crisis. Her aim is to make journalism more accessible to the everyday reader. As a GirlGuiding Volunteer in her spare time, Jennifer is never one to be boring. When she’s not writing she can often be found with her head in a book, trying a new craft, or on the dancefloor.