Cooking Tips for Students

Moving away from home or residence and into off-campus housing is exciting and fun, but it also comes with new responsibilities like cooking your own meals. Unfortunately, many young people don’t have a lot of experience or confidence in this area. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should turn to fast food or even stay with the university cafeteria meals. There are some easy tips that can help you master cooking basics and learn to prepare simple dishes. Below are a few of these tips.

Stock Up on the Staples

Beans, rice, pasta, potatoes, flour, eggs, butter, onions, tomato paste, garlic, cooking oil, soup, ketchup, mustard, bread, peanut butter, milk, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper and other herbs and spices are all kitchen staples every home and cook should have. These are versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways and in a variety of dishes. Most of these ingredients can be found in many recipes, plus, it’s likely that most of the items will last a while, and you won’t need to restock often.

Freeze and Save

To save time, money and food, many people use their freezers for storage. You can freeze meals, sauces, soups and even some food items like bread. Freezing can extend the lifespan of any food. Some frozen foods can even last for months. When it’s time to use them, just defrost or heat them up. Your meal can be cooking while you’re studying. For busy students, cooking then freezing their own food is a healthier alternative to frozen meals.

Don’t Be Afraid to Season

Herbs and spices can make any meal tastier. They can also introduce a novice cook to diverse flavours and enhance their confidence in the kitchen. A tastier meal is more satisfying, leading to better leftovers that effectively turn one meal into two or three. If you have dinner guests, good seasoning might impress them, and in turn, inspiring you to cook more often. Plus, good seasoning can just kick any meal up a notch. Seasonings every cook should have, include: cumin, chili powder, dried basil, oregano, garlic salt, onion salt, cayenne and black pepper, salt and paprika. Herb mixes are also convenient ways to season a meal.

Get Shopping and Cooking Tips from Home

Learning from others can be invaluable. However, when it comes to learning to cook, there’s truly no place like home. While at university, it’s likely the meals you will crave will be those from home. So, ask your parents for the recipes to your favourite meals, cooking demonstrations and/or tips for making these meals. You can also ask them for other simple recipes, cooking tips and kitchen secrets. Pair these tricks with shopping tips to become a tour de force in the kitchen. You can ask for tips on:

  • Creating a feasible food budget and shopping schedule
  • Meal planning
  • Buying the essentials and staples
  • Finding bargains and/or discounts
  • Using coupons
  • Shopping at the most affordable grocery stores
  • Choosing the freshest produce and healthiest food products
  • Cooking quick meals
  • Storing certain foods or leftovers
  • Buying foods that last
  • Navigating the grocery store

Plan All Meals

Planning meals can help you save time and eliminate the urge to buy fast food when faced with time constraints. This is an innovative way to stay aware of your health and what you eat. For effective meal planning, plan your meals at least a week in advance. Fortunately, living in off-campus student housing makes it easier to plan meals and watch what you eat. Additionally, ensure your plan and meal preparation includes snacks to prevent impulsive eating and wasting money at vending machines.

A great place for students to live – and cook – in Ottawa is 1Eleven. Fully equipped in-suite kitchens make planning and preparing your meals fun. Book your tour today!

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