The student kitchen cupboard doesn’t have to be quite as bleak as it once was. Gone are the days when instant noodles and cereals caked in sugar were the cornerstone of the student diet. Although a bowl of Frosted Shreddies at night every now and then still wouldn’t go amiss.
Luke Hawkins serves up ideas for some simple but useful foods and ingredients that you should regularly stock up on.
Not to sound like a nagging parent but try and get some fruit in your diet. Your skin, kidneys, bowels, stomach, gums, heart and just about everything else will thank you.
Packed with vitamins and easy to take with you on your commute; you can choose pretty much any fruit and it will have its own benefits and high levels of different vitamins.
Why not ditch the standard contents of the fruit bowl and go exotic?
Get some pineapple in your life. Or make a mango salad to go with your dinner. When it all comes down to it though, you can’t beat a wee grape.
There is no suggestion here that this one is anything to do with nutritional value or anything like that. It’s simply here because you’ll inevitably have a craving every now and then.
There’s nothing sadder than having a craving for chocolate and having to settle for a dry biscuit or, if you’ve gone feral, a handful of cereal.
Big squares of chocolate can be pretty useful compared to bars of
chocolate, as you are more likely to give yourself some portion control
rather than eating the whole thing. Maybe. Aren’t you?
If you do have that sort of discipline then two or three little squares of chocolate is healthier than a caramel and nougat packed bar or a slice of cake. Although there’s nothing wrong with a bit of indulgence now and then.
Cheese…Believe The Hype
One of the few things in this world that really lives up to the hype. What do you know? Someone is actually encouraging you to eat cheese! Is this not the best advice you’ve ever read?
It should obviously be stated that there are some negative points to cheese. It is high in fat, including saturated fats, which is not good.
There can also be a lot of salt in most types of cheese. It is also dairy, which, although for some isn’t an issue of any note, can give your stomach a hard time.
Those things aside, it is high in protein and high in deliciousness. Again, versatility will always score points when it comes to stocking your cupboards and fridge. A piece and cheese, crackers and cheese, countless sauces, salad, cake; cheese has it all.
Egg It Up
Fairly cheap, incredibly versatile and filling. Having something in your kitchen that is suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a big help when you’re lacking inspiration. Eggs are a great way to start the day with a warm, comforting, protein-packed breakfast.
You could also hard boil a batch of them, peel them and leave them in the fridge as a healthy snack or a tasty addition to any salad or sandwich you’re making up to have at home or on the go.
Egg yolks can be added to pasta, bacon, garlic and cheese off the heat to make an easy, authentic Italian carbonara (as opposed to the unhealthier British version loaded with cream).
Egg whites can be whisked up and made into meringue if you fancy your hand at some ambitious baking. French toast (I refuse to call it eggy bread) is another comfort food classic, can be made in minutes and can be eaten with sweet or savoury additions.
When sauce is a stretch but you don’t want your lunch to resemble cardboard sandals, mayonnaise is your best friend. Creamy but not cream. Cream poured on a sandwich isn’t a delicacy in any part of the world. Neither is mayonnaise to be fair but it would generally be considered much more socially acceptable.
Don’t restrict it to simple sandwiches though, whack it on the plate with some fish, chicken, rice or pasta. There are light, low-fat versions available meaning you can slather some more of it on. That’s how that works, right?
Mix it with tomato sauce to make an easy version of cocktail sauce (as in prawn, not a daiquiri), or mix in some garlic and herbs to recreate the highlight of a takeaway pizza – garlic mayo.
Meat your needs
Borrowing an American term, cold cuts are basically cold meat you would have in your sandwiches. We Brits have a tendency to stick with the tried and tested cheese and/or ham. Branch out and get some salami in your life; likewise, pastrami, pepperoni or chorizo. Give Subway a run for their money and load your piece with salad and anything else you care to throw on top.
Herb & Spice Up Your Life
These will obviously make your meals taste better, but will also make you a better cook.
Learning which herbs and spices go together will ensure you’re never left bored with your options for dinner. Another plus is that practically all herbs and spices are healthier for you than salt, so you can decrease your intake by seasoning with some alternatives. Some spices are even said to have some health benefits; helping everything from your cardiovascular system to your sinuses. You could even start trying to recreate your favourite restaurant’s seasonings and sauces.
Spices and dried herbs will keep practically forever if stored properly (usually best kept in their original jars in a cupboard). Fresh herbs won’t last quite so long, but then again, there is nothing to stop you growing your own in some pots at your kitchen window. This is perfectly doable and will give you a good supply of fresh parsley, mint, thyme or whatever else you want to have a go at growing.