Cooking tips for your first time living alone
Heading off to university is one of the most exciting times of your life. It’s full of new experiences, making friends and helps you work towards your dream career.
One of the more daunting parts of moving away for the first time is having to look after yourself without the help of mum and dad. While ‘adulting’ can feel overwhelming at first, you’ll soon get into the swing of things. Whilst we can’t teach you how to perfect your washing (separate whites and colours FYI), we do have some handy cooking tips for your first time living alone.
While it’s tempting to go out every night or get a tasty takeaway, you’ll soon realise there’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal. We can’t promise you’ll be the star of the next Masterchef, but our handy cooking tips will help get you started in the kitchen.
Make time to plan
Learning to cook takes a bit of practice and patience, but getting the hang of planning your meals will make you a whizz in the kitchen in no time. Making a meal list for the week ahead can help narrow down what you need to buy before going food shopping. This way you’ll have a concise list and won’t buy anything that will end up going to waste.
Sticking to your meal list will also help when making social plans or study time. You can schedule meals that take less time to cook in the evenings you know you’ll be busy! Not only does this mean you won’t spend hours in the kitchen, but you’ll also be less tempted to pick up a greasy takeaway on the way home.
Making time to plan means finding the time to do a weekly food shop. One of our top cooking tips for your first time living alone is to try and only head to the supermarket once a week. Buying all the ingredients you need for the week ahead means you’re less likely to stray from your plan.
Ask your friends and family to share tips
You might think not much beats the taste of your mum’s cooking, or you can’t live without your friends’ fajitas. Asking your family and friends for tips or recipes can be a great way to build up your confidence before going to uni.
In the weeks leading up, ask those close to you to share any tips or recipes you can recreate in your kitchen. Who knows, you might even master one of their best dishes!
Stock up on pantry essentials
Making a food list and having recipes ready is one thing, but stocking your cupboards with cooking essentials is another.
Over time, you’ll build up a great selection of seasonings and sauces that will become your go-tos for meals, but as a starting point we’d recommend purchasing:
- Good quality olive oil or equivalent (rapeseed oil, sunflower oil)
- Beef, chicken and vegetable stock cubes
- Garlic puree (bottled or frozen)
- A selection of mixed herbs and spices (basil, paprika, chilli etc)
- Your favourite condiments
- Rice and pasta
- Chopped tomatoes
You’ll be able to make lots of quick and easy meals from just these ingredients and can add to this as your recipe book increases.
Preparation is key
So far our cooking tips for living alone involve a bit of planning, but preparing meals can also save a lot of time. It can be quite easy to waste food whilst living alone. Fresh fruit and vegetables often come in large bags or multipacks, and it can feel like you’re buying far too much food compared to what you actually need.meal
Meal preparation and cooking in bulk can help with this. When you find a dish you enjoy, cook a larger batch than you want, and freeze what you have leftover. Not only are you reducing food waste, but you’ve also got a few extra meals sorted for the future. It’s a win, win!
Incorporating some veggie substitutes can also reduce food waste and can be a healthier option. There are loads of vegetarian and vegan options in supermarkets, why not browse that aisle for inspiration next time you’re out shopping?
Buddy up if you can (and want to!)
An easy way to reduce waste and save cupboard space is to share with a friend or flatmate in your student accommodation. Buddying up on kitchen essentials like oils and seasonings can be beneficial to both of you.
Doing your weekly food shop with a friend can also make the job a little more fun. It’ll keep you both on track with your meal preparation and you’ll have someone to split an Uber with for the trip.
Although becoming Gordon Ramsay won’t happen overnight, our tips should stand you in good stead as a starting point for cooking alone at university.
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