18 student cooking tips for University freshers

University freshers listen up! We’ve put together our list of the top ten student cooking tips you need to know.

From saving money, avoiding waste and to easy cooking it’s all here.

student cooking tips

Buy and cook in bulk

Food scales up really well so buy lots and cook lots at once – but be wise as you don’t want to waste.

It’s a great move to stock up on foods that’ll last for a good while like pasta and rice, tins and the like, plus veg such as potatoes and onions. Store them right and you can make big savings by buying in bulk without throwing anything way. You can do the same with things like spices, kitchen roll and washing up liquid.

In a similar vein, it’s cheaper per person to cook for lots than just the one so where and when you can cook together. Easy meals like soups, curries, pasta sauces, bolognese and such can end up just costing pence per portion.

Buy loose

When it comes to fruit and veg, buy loose, it’ll almost always be cheaper and you can buy just what you need so there’s no chance of things going into the bin.

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned tomatoes are a student staple so pile them high, they can be used in all sorts from all on their own as a substitute in beans on toast (for the beans, obvs) to curry, Ratatouille, chilli, Spanish chicken, pasta bakes, the list goes on.


Check out the farmer’s market

Check out the local farmer’s market or greengrocers where you’ll probably be able to get some great deals on meat and veg.

Use spices

Buy (and use!) spices. You may have thought asafoetida was some sort of disease before university but now it can make a gorgeous homemade Indian curry!

Love your freezer

You’ll be surprised at what you can keep in your freezer: Get into the habit using it to avoid chucking food (i.e. MONEY) away. MORE: > 8 surprising foods you can freeze to keep longer

bread butter pudding recipe 2

Realise you can eat ‘off’ food

We’re not talking about the slice of bread someone’s just found down the side of the sofa that’s turned blue here, but just ’cause a packet says it’s off doesn’t mean it is. Our tip is to use your common sense. Don’t risk it with things like meat, eggs & dairy but stale bread can make for yummy Bread and Butter pudding (pic above) while blackened bananas can be made into banana loaf or banana pancakes.

Be a veggie

Try being a veggie for one or two days a week as meat is pretty expensive and alternatives needn’t just be a bland salad. See our vegetarian student recipes.

Ask your parents and older siblings

Before you set off for University for the first time, ask the cook(s) in your house for tips and for some easy homely recipes. Try ’em out before you go!

cup recipe

Microwaves are amazing

You generally can’t go wrong with microwave meals, they’re super quick, easy and require little clean up. You may be surprised at what your microwave is capable of, from bacon to cakes: Check out our student microwave recipes.

Cook from scratch

Whether it’s burgers or hollandaise sauce, cooking from scratch is always cheaper and healthier, providing low cost meals that aren’t laden with salt and dodgy ingredients.


Shop smart

Learn how to save money shopping and avoid getting caught out by dirty supermarket tactics that are design to make you spend more than you need or want to.

Don’t waste money on cookbooks

Obviously we would say this but with the internet at your finger tips there really is no need, there are literally thousands of online resources for all sorts of recipes, meal ideas and cooking tips.

Easy Chinese chicken stir-fry 1

Love to make stir fries

Stir fries are really trivial to make, super quick to cook, easy to adapt and require just the one pan. Invest in a good wok, chuck in your ingredients and keep stirring.

Invest in some kitchen scissors

A good pair of kitchen scissors make cooking and preparing meals a lot easier and quicker, they’re great for chopping up things like meat or herbs.

Make substitutions

You don’t need to follow recipes to the letter. You can make substitutes to suit your tastes or diet requirements or just what’s left in the fridge. Check out the Food thesaurus for a pretty much conclusive guide to food substitutions.



Plan well enough and you can get by well enough on just £10 a week on food without resorting to instant noodles.

Always use leftovers

Chucking out food is just binning cash, always use up leftovers by incorporating them into new meals or freezing (if applicable). > Make the most of leftovers: 16 recipe ideas for leftover food

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