What does a student fridge look like? In September, it looked like pizza, pork pies and Coca-Cola. In December, it looked like orange juice, salami and a few rather pitiful looking vegetables.
Today, it looks like a fully equipped, nutritionally balanced fridge you typically wouldn’t find in a student house. There’s mushrooms and peppers and leeks; there’s carrots and bok choy and spinach; there’s chicken and mince meat and ginger; fresh chives, coriander and parsley – it’s full to the brim!
Moving across to our kitchen counter, there’s no short of twenty dried herbs and spices, some of which are used religiously. Aside from salt and pepper, no one in the house would choose to live without garlic and smoked paprika in their meals – it just wouldn’t be worth it!
There’s a certain reputation that students have acquired regarding meal time – that they will eat the same, simple, cheap concoctions over and over again. Some good ones include tuna baked potatoes, sausages with mash, and pizza (the favourite).
Debunking the myth
Now, don’t get me wrong, we eat these things too (of course we do; pizza is delicious) but it has become important to us to get as much nutrition as possible and as much flavour as possible. Despite the often busy (often not) life of a student, there’s always time to fill the shelves a little and cook healthy meals that are not only packed with flavour, but take no time at all.
One thing I can recommend is to use garlic in everything. Fresh is best of course, but dried also works well. Stock up on other herbs and spices, and you’ll be set for some time – and the best thing is, they won’t expire. Some of our favourites include: smoked paprika, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, coriander and crushed chillies. If the expiry date of fresh veggies is getting on your wick, frozen is the way to go. You can get almost anything frozen these days. Take advantage of this.
Healthy meals on budget
One of my secrets when I need a quick go-to sauce is to use a tin of chopped tomatoes. This can be used with seasoning, or with milk or cream to add variety of taste and consistency. Craving pizza? No problem — simply buy the plainest and cheapest pizza you can find (or a plain pizza base) and pack it with vegetables, (and lots of cheese, of course). If you’re the kind of person that likes to follow a recipe, studentrecipes.com is a useful site for meal inspiration. Follow the recipes provided or put your own spin on them.
There’s always a way to eat healthy, tasty meals on a budget. Do small shops so produce won’t expire, buy frozen or canned foods, freeze leftover meals or do a big shop and split the cost. Student living doesn’t have to fit the stereotype!
So there you have it; I’ve busted a widely believed student myth. Perhaps there’s a pizza in an oven down the road, or a baked potato in the microwave next door, but not us. No – that’s reserved for exam week!
What do you think? What tips would you add? Have your say in the comments section below.