Student Aleeya shares her experience about learning to cook at university:
Coming to university, many people think that cooking is something that can be easily picked up while you are adjusting in your first year. As a third year student, I can say from experience that cooking can be pretty exhausting, especially after a full day of lectures, seminars and assignments. In this post, I will be providing tips that I have learned over the years so that you can start your cooking journey as easily as possible.
The most important thing to think about when creating food that you find enjoyable to eat and to make is seasoning. Some people can forget that the bread and butter of cooking is seasoning. You need to have your basics, salt and pepper. These two items always need to be stocked in your cupboard. If you are a beginner cook, this can change the taste of your meals. For ingredients themselves make sure that you have both garlic and onion. Frying these before you cook can add that extra flavour that is needed to make sure that your meal tastes great.
Example recipe: Easy stir fry
For a simple stir fry you will need a couple ingredients:
- Half an onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped/ crushes
- Stir fry vegetables (can get as a pack from the supermarket)
- Soy sauce/stir fry sauce
- Cooked noodles
- (Optional) any meat of your choice
- Put oil into your pan and wait until it is hot. (You can tell if it is hot enough if it has a very water-like consistency compared to when it first entered the pan).
- Once the pan is hot enough, throw in the chopped onion and garlic. (If you want to have meat with your meal put the meat into the pan with the garlic and the onion)
- Once the onion and garlic is cooked ( as well as the meat if you have also added that), add in the stir fry vegetables with the sauce of your choice and mix.
- With all the vegetables cooked, add the cooked noodles into the pan and add more sauce if you want
- Wait until all the ingredients have reached the same temperature and then plate your food.
Tip for meat eaters
If you tend to have a packed schedule, to make sure that you get all the nutrients that you need, MAKE USE OF THE OVEN! Compared to most recipes that involve the stove and a lot of supervision, when using the oven all you need to do is wait for the timer to end and for your food to be cooked.
For non-vegans/vegetarians, when my schedule was packed, I would prepare my meat before my day would start. I would do this by taking my meat out of the fridge (if you put your meat in the freezer make sure to leave it overnight in the fridge to thaw out) and season it with the seasoning of my choice and leave that to soak during the day in the fridge. This will make sure that all the flavour is tasted throughout the meat and melts in your mouth.
You can prepare either a salad or rice whenever it is convenient, either in the morning or when you have the time later in the day. When dinner time has come around, you can quickly chop up some onions and garlic onto a pan with oil and place the meat on top as well as putting some oil over the meat and placing it in the oven. You can look online for the time it takes to cook most ingredients in the oven, but for a quick tip, for chicken you can put it in the oven at 200 degrees (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes. While you are waiting for the meat to be done you can relax in the kitchen.
Tip for vegan/vegetarians
For the people that are vegan/vegetarian, you can do something similar but without the meat. Good vegetables that can be cooked in the oven are cauliflower, potatoes and broccoli. You can season these before you put them in the oven during the day and then when you are prepared to eat, follow similarly to the instructions above.
There are many resources online that are available, including recipes and videos that can easily guide you through this culinary journey. Don’t get demotivated, cooking can be a relaxing experience if you want it to be. Best of luck!