Easy Student Cooking Tips & Tricks
You might often feel time-strapped and preparing meals can seem like a chore, especially when you have to study. Having a collection of quick meals and one-pot wonders under your belt will help you with easy student cooking, enabling you to eat well during these busy times.
Knowing how to make food preparation, cooking and cleaning as efficient as possible will also make it a lot easier for you to eat well and less tempted to order a takeaway!
In this blog post, we will give you our top tips and advice about:
- Food Preparation
Here are our top tips to make food preparation as easy, effective and as safe as possible:
- Make sure your food preparation area and sink are clear before you begin to cook.
- Wear an apron and closed toed shoes before starting to cook.
- Place a cloth under your chopping board to stop it from slipping.
- If you need boiling water for a recipe, put the kettle on. This will save time and energy. Whilst the kettle boils, you can start your food prep.
- Sharpen your knives to make chopping more efficient and safer.
- Pre-heat your oven to ensure accurate cooking times.
- To speed up cooking times, chop ingredients smaller and flatten cuts of meat.
- To save time, leave the skins on fruit and veg, giving them a wash, instead of peeling. This saves time and retains the nutritional content and fibre of the food. If you are peeling veg, peel first then rinse.
- Do not wash meat. Washing meat does not kill bacteria, but it can splash harmful bacteria around the kitchen contaminating sinks, taps and surfaces and other food.
- Practice ‘mise en place’ – a French phrase used in professional kitchens to mean ‘everything in its place’. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start to cook.
- Always clear and clean as you go and throw away packaging as soon as you remove it.
- Always keep surfaces clear and clean as this will help prevent chemicals and objects getting into food, as well as preventing the spread of bacteria.
COOKING WITH EASE
Here are our top tips to make cooking as easy, effective and as safe as possible:
- Use wooden or metal utensils when cooking. They are more durable and can withstand more heat than plastic ones.
- Harder vegetables take longer to cook than softer, leafier ones. Add harder vegetables like carrots and potatoes to the pan at the start of cooking, and add softer vegetables like spinach and spring onions at the end.
- Some vegetables are very hard to peel and cut when raw – butternut squash or beetroot, for example. To prepare with minimal effort, roast in the oven or microwave first and the skin will peel off easily.
- Use the hob temperature controls to help you cook, speed up or slow down. Increase the heat if you are ready to go with cooking and reduce the heat if you need more time.
- Use lids to help you. To cook quickly and to preserve liquid and heat, or to keep food warm whilst the rest finishes cooking, keep the lid on. To reduce and thicken sauces and moderate temperatures, take the lid off.
- Use frozen vegetables in your cooking. This saves on preparation time and is just as nutritious.
- Avoid deep fat frying. If you are making chips, cook them in the oven.
- Make sure you don’t leave pots and pans unattended when cooking. Use kitchen timers if necessary and turn off the heat if smoke starts to build up in the kitchen to avoid setting off the fire alarms. Always turn on the extractor fans when cooking.
CLEANING WITH EASE
Here are our top tips to make cleaning as easy, effective and as safe as possible:
- Clean as you go. If you are waiting for something to finish cooking on the hob or in the oven, use this time to clean up after yourself.
- Prepare your vegetables first and then your meat if you are using the same chopping board. This will save you having to wash your board. It’s perfectly fine to chop raw chicken on a board after cutting vegetables, but definitely not the other way around!
- Use a compostable bag to collect any peelings and recycle any packaging wherever possible.
- Use hot water to wash up. Use a pair of rubber gloves and a washing up brush, sponge and scourer. The grease and grime should wash off easily. Soak dishes with burnt-on food in hot water.
- Try to clean up after yourself as soon as you have finished eating. It will be easier to clean before food begins to dry onto plates.
- Dry with clean tea towels and wash tea towels often.
On the Blog
Don’t miss out on the rest of our top tips for cooking at university. Check out our Campus Cooking posts on:
- The Essential Student Cooking Kit
- The Best Places to Buy Food around Uni
- How to Keep an Organised Student Kitchen
- Campus Cookery at the University of Manchester – course dates information
Need more inspiration? Check out our recipes page for tried and tested recipes that are simple to make at home.