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Uni cooking 101

Uni cooking 101

Top survival tips for first-time students, from Niall Grieve, safefood placement student from Ulster University.

Summer is coming to an end and I always see this time of year as a transition period for young people. We all go back to school, starting a brand new year, with brand new teachers, sometimes in a brand new school.

For many, this may also mean starting college or university, which I feel is one of the biggest changes in a young person’s life. You’ll often leave your friends and family behind to start fresh in a brand new city or country. You may be living with a group of strangers and you’ll be completely responsible for looking after yourself.

But as a university student myself, it has become quite apparent to me that one skill young people lack the most is cooking skills and basic nutrition understanding. Even if you think you can cook, you’ll often find yourself short on time to cook due to studying, working and maybe even nights out or you may feel you don’t have the money to buy healthy foods and ingredients.

My top tips for eating a balanced diet at university

  • Buy store brand products such as oats and cereals 
    I can buy a 1-2kg bag of porridge oats for 99 cents while the bigger brands could be as expensive as €3.
  • Buy in bulk 
    I know you may feel buying three cans of peas on offer for €3 is more expensive in the moment than one can for €1.50 but by the end of the year, these small savings really add up! But make sure these foods don’t expire anytime soon.
  • Freeze your leftovers
    When you have ingredients that are near expiration date, cook your meals in bulk and freeze the extra portions for another day. This will not only save you time in the future but it will also prevent any food going to waste.
  • Buy frozen veg instead of fresh
    It is just as nutritious and can last for way longer!
  • Learn three or four basic recipes by heart
    For me, this was a vegetable omelette, chicken curry as well as the fish fingers recipe from our website.
  • Cook with friends!
    Plan a recipe with your housemates or friends like a stew or hotpot. This way you can share the costs of the ingredients, divide the work load and cook a nutritious and filling meal.

Moving to university is a stressful time for anyone. It may be your first time away from home, and managing your money and the work load can be a big adjustment. However, it is important to look after your body as well. Get adequate sleep, regular exercise and try and have a diet as healthy and nutritious as you can. This will help prevent you getting run down and help you stay focused and energised throughout the day.

Check out our recipe book 101 Square Meals for a range of simple and budget-conscious recipes that could be perfect for your university adventures.

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