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Essential student tips: cooking for one

Written by Food

At a first glance, cooking for just one person seems like a simple task. Yet it can be a surprise how difficult it is to simultaneously avoid waste, vary what you eat day to day and to shop for groceries cost-efficiently.

It is so easy to bore yourself with the same set of meals or to let delicious food go to waste. And this is especially true, if you’re learning to cook independently at university for the first time as I was last year. Here are several tips and tricks I learnt painstakingly over time, so you don’t have to.

Always plan ahead

If there is one thing you should take away from this article, it is the value of meal plans. They don’t have to be complex recipes or culinary feats planned down to every minute detail. Having in mind the type of meals you want to eat each day is incredibly useful. This way you can set aside time to food prep without worrying about what you can make with the random ingredients you have left in your fridge. You can plan this in a notebook, make a mental list or jot it down own your phone if that works for you. Remember: organization is key.

Be flexible 

This tip is a follow up to the previous one. While planning is important, being flexible is also helpful as unfortunately, life isn’t always smooth and things can happen unexpectedly. This means being adaptable. For example, buying a selection of ingredients you know work together in different recipes and always having a quick option in case you need to eat in a rush.

Image- Public Domain Pictures

Work out portion sizes that work for you

One thing I struggled with when I first taught myself to cook was managing portion sizes. I always ended up with either too much or not quite enough. You can avoid this by cutting recipes in half and working out which ones are best for freezing.

Tupperware is your friend

If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time to cook from scratch, cooking in bulk is a lifesaver. Whether it’s a refrigerated ‘spagbol’ or a frozen sweet potato curry, it’s possible to have yourself a nutritious and filling meal in a matter of minutes. Although you might not believe it, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the dreaded pot-noodle. Be strategic about food shopping – one of the best things you can do when you’re cooking for just yourself is to get savvy with sell by dates and buying in bulk. Make sure you have enough products to make a few meals and learn when things are in season.

Switch things up

There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you’re stuck in a rut, as having the same old set of recipes week-in-week-out can become tedious. A way to conquer this is to experiment and explore. There are so many interesting and cheap meal ideas circulating on social media so there is no excuse not to try something new. Food doesn’t have to be a chore. With the right amount of practice anyone can learn to cook well for one.

Last modified: 10th October 2019

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