Many of the people I went to â€˜studyâ€™ with were mainly focused on the more social aspects of their time at University. For them, a weekly shopping list was non-existent, except for â€˜beerâ€™ and â€˜drunken kebabâ€™, however, for me, I enjoyed cooking a lot more than I enjoyed the hangovers that many of my peers had.
Many of my housemates claimed that they didnâ€™t have the time to cook, as they went to the pub, or played their favourite game for another hour. However, making a bit of time to prepare dishes will always save time and money later on – I often spent my days off in the kitchen, having gone shopping in the morning to get a load of meat, vegetables and sauces. I bought several large plastic pots, which were very well used â€“ making 8 portions of chilli, 4 portions of stew or 6 portions of meatballs, all of which can be frozen once made meant that in the morning, all I had to do for dinner was take one of these pots or bags out of the freezer, and then make some rice, pasta, potatoes or bread to go with the food.
As with any cooking, preparing dishes will always take time. But the positives of taking the time to prepare your food are that you can eat proper, healthy food on a low budget.
Shop around â€“ most University/College locations often have a fruit and vegetable market nearby, and many areas have butchers near them as well. I used my course and connections as a way of building up a rapport with the stall- owners, and was able to get a small discount on produce over a short period of time.
Experimenting with what is left in the cupboards is also a good way to find new meals. For example, did you know that quite often, Iâ€™d have use some honey in my spicy tomato sauce? Adds a bit of sweetness to it, and thickens up quite nicely. Or maybe that adding different herbs to a similar dish will make it taste completely different â€“ like using basil instead of oregano?
Having a low budget doesnâ€™t mean you have to eat the special offer, own-brand food. Shopping around, and visiting stores at different times may mean that you can get some stock at a lower price, if they are looking to move a few more units of it.
The moral of the story is that anyone can cook, on any budget. All you need is the desire to cook.