Ask most people what they imagine a student eats, and you’re likely to get at least one mention of baked beans. But eating quickly and cheaply has come on a long way in recent years, and picking up a few simple staples can see you eating well all term long.
If going to university is your first time living away from home it’s a great time to pick up and develop life skills such as cooking for yourself. While most student kitchens aren’t exactly glamorous, you will have some time and freedom to experiment with cookery – and finding your favourite recipe book is a lovely part of this process. Everyone needs to eat, and making comforting meals that remind you of home is a great way to forge friendships and boost your confidence.
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A study from Student Beans found that one in 10 students never cooks for themselves, but eating takeaways is a fast way to burn through your loan. Besides which – we can tell you from experience – not eating well for three or more years is a sure-fire way to gain weight and pick up colds and flu on the regular.
With just a small amount of effort, you can boost your immunity and mood for a lot less money than you might expect. Consider making group meals and taking it in turns to host, or simply see to your own needs. You don’t need to be a slave to the oven to whip up some seriously impressive results. (But sadly, you will need to wash up)
The best recipe books for students
There's a reason Mary Berry has been a bestseller for decades u2013 the woman knows what she's talking about! This classic cookery book is a great staple for any kitchen, so if you're ready to take your cooking and baking a little more seriously, it's worth a peruse. More than 650 recipes include everything from soups and pies to vegetarian treats, and of course desserts and cakes. It's certainly good value and will help you impress your housemates (and family when you get back home).
Not only does this book pack a whopping 200+ student-friendly recipes, but it's also crammed with useful and fun advice. Not many cookery books will share favourite drinking games with you! There are also tips about how to barbecue, what to eat to help you study, and advice on chores. Each recipe has a budget breakdown and really clear, detailed instructions.
A former graduate herself, Rachel's recipes are all tried and tested in a student kitchen to combine low effort levels and minimal cost u2013 no fancy gadgets required. You may also find her kitchen starter kit list and store cupboard ingredient shopping list helpful when you're getting set up. There are also helpful sections on solo dining and recipes to cook for friends. Recipes include frying-pan lasagne, kitchen cupboard fishcakes, pizza baked potato, one-bowl chocolate cake and quick late-night miso soup.
It can be frustrating, particularly as someone new to cooking, to find recipes without pictures. How are you meant to know what the finished product should look like? Or even if you'll find it appetising? This popular book u2013 now in its fifth edition u2013 has an image for every recipe, so you'll never have that problem. Its author came up with the idea after her son, Ben, went to university and lived off toasties and Mars bars. With her gentle encouragement and fool-proof instructions, he started to enjoy getting in the kitchen, and so far a further 250,000 students have benefited from this book too!
Miguel Barclay is a bestselling cookery author, and these 80+ easy recipes will soon convince you to buy his other books too. As you might imagine from the title, the recipes are all designed to help you create delicious, simple meals for just £1. Pleasingly, they are also speedy, meaning you won't need long in a communal kitchen to whip up something tasty. Standout recipes include 5-spice baked feta and asparagus salad, green shakshuka, smoky fish tacos and Mexican tortilla soup.
The Roasting Tin series (with specials available for vegetarians and vegans, and those who want dinner within 15 minutes) are great favourites for fans of fuss-free cookery. The idea, as you might have guessed, is recipes that involve shoving everything in one dish in the oven. Simple, yet effective, and minimal washing up. This book has 75 tempting recipes, with a mixture of meat and veggie options.
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