By Alex Stapleton
You have a fantastic amount of freedom at university, perhaps for the first time in your life. This also means that you have to feed yourself as well! I realised how much I enjoyed cooking when I was in my flat at UEA, and while you will undoubtedly miss home cooking, there are plenty of ways to still enjoy your food while you are studying in Norwich.
- Learn to cook
Possibly the most important thing on this list, being able to cook is a very important skill that you’ll need. Not only can it be cheaper to cook your own food than buy ready meals all of the time, it is far healthier and is another activity that you can do to get out of your room and socialise with your new flatmates. There are also cooking classes available through the Student’s Union throughout the year, often labelled as “Give It A Go” sessions, so make sure you are in the loop when it comes to these things.
Of course, cooking isn’t for everyone. You can make meals as complex or as simple as you like and can even enlist the help of friends! Ready meals are also becoming healthier, so it is not always a bad choice to have one of these after a long day of lectures if you don’t feel like cooking.
- Know your kitchen
In the campus flats, one of the first things you may notice is that there are no ovens. In fact, the microwaves double up as ovens, which took my flat about a week to actually realise and figure out how to work! Familiarise yourself with the appliances in your kitchen, as well as the utensils that you are going to bring with you. It can be very irritating when you have decided to make a certain meal and realise you haven’t got the right equipment! Sharing kitchen utensils is a great way to minimise this chance, so long as you all wash up after yourselves!
- Eat out
Food that you know you have put lots of effort into can be very enjoyable, but there is nothing like eating at a restaurant or getting a takeaway every now and again. It gives you a break from cooking for a night and also a chance to bond with your friends and flatmates (if you choose to eat with them!). There are so many restaurants in Norwich, especially at Riverside, so you will always be spoilt for choice! Going with other people is obviously a lot cheaper and more enjoyable, just don’t forget your NUS discount card!
There are also plenty of places on campus to eat. The Campus Kitchen, Zest and Ziggy’s all offer food at a reasonable price, and the bars also have a selection of pizzas and fast food cooked on site to enjoy.
- Get a cookbook
Getting a cookbook is a brilliant idea for many reasons. It gives you a whole range of dishes to cook and enjoy, and encourages variety in your diet. Making something new is always exciting, and I always add a little note in my cookbooks about how the food turned out. Most cookbooks now offer healthy and vegetarian alternatives, and there are so many out there to choose from. I recommend the “Nosh” student cookbook series. These are filled with easy recipes that can be cooked in student accommodation, and give you an indication of how easy they are, as well as how much they cost, so you can stay on top of your finances. It also gives examples of food planners, where you can plan out your meals for a week, identify the ingredients you need, and find out how much it is all going to cost. Shopping around for ingredients is also encouraged, as you can get a good quality week of meals for between £15-£20 if you shop right!
- Try to eat healthily
It can be so tempting to just go off the rails at uni, since you have no one to tell you to eat your vegetables or have your five-a-day. It’s all down to you, so creating food which is not only tasty but nutritious is very important. Make sure you are buying and using fruit and vegetables (many of which are available frozen so they don’t go out of date in a week) every day, and a variety of these is also important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I know it can be very difficult to stomach it when you wake up at 2pm with a hangover after a night at the LCR (we’ve all done it at UEA and the new Freshers will do soon too!), but having even a piece of fruit within 10 minutes of waking up prepares you for an exciting day at university. Ideally, a perfect breakfast is a bowl of cereal, a glass of water and a piece of fruit, so try your best to start your day right.
Cooking can often be seen as a chore, but there are many ways to make it fun and interesting when you have your kitchen and all the freedom you like.
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