Cupboard Basics

cupboard-basicsWhen you first start life as a student, chances are one of the first things you will learn is the name of every takeaway in the vicinity. It’s just easier. You finish a day’s lectures, you might have a sports practice or a club, you might be meeting some friends. When are you supposed to cook when you have a whirling social calendar? The pizza, the kebab, the curry, the Chinese takeaway – the world becomes your culinary oyster and it is a rare student who doesn’t initially indulge.

However, eating out is hard on the wallet and the waistline and pretty soon you will be looking for a cheaper, and healthier, way to eat.

Cooking for yourself may be daunting at first, particularly if it is something you have never done before, but it is also rewarding, fun and easier on the wallet. With a few basic ingredients and a little bit of know-how, you can create a whole range of tasty, nutritious and healthy dishes. With the rise in popularity of chefs and cooking programmes, it is also a sociable activity, with groups of students forming dining clubs or attending cookery classes.

Here are some of the cupboard essentials you will need to whip up a tasty meal.

  • Eggs:

These little ovoids are the original ready meal. Pop one in boiling water and within three minutes you have a perfect boiled egg; whip three or four eggs up with a piece of butter, salt and pepper and you have a delicious plate of scrambled eggs; crack one into a saucepan of water and you will soon have an elegant poached egg.

  • Onion and Garlic:

This duo can turn pretty much anything into a tasty meal bursting with flavour. Whether you’re making a simple curry or a Bolognese sauce, they’re the base of pretty much everything you cook in a pot! Just chop them fast so you don’t end up crying all over your kitchen. For a simple and tasty warming dish in the winter make a big pot of onion soup – guaranteed to put a smile on your face when you arrive back at your digs after a long day.

  • Potatoes:

Boiled, mashed, roasted, there are so many ways to serve potatoes!

One great way to cook them is simply cut them into cubes, chuck them onto a baking tray with salt and pepper and a mix of herbs and spices, drizzle on oil and cook for around 30 minutes at 180C!

Store them in a dark, dry cupboard in a paper bag and they’ll keep for a few weeks.

  • Tomatoes:

Fresh or tinned, tomatoes are a friend to just about any meal. Add tomatoes to pasta, chop in some garlic and chilli and you have a wonderful dish of Italian loveliness. Tomatoes add something to every meal, whether it is part of a blow-out breakfast, the base of a curry or as a filler ingredient in a chilli con carne. Tomato puree is also a great way of getting the taste of tomatoes at a fraction of the price.

  • Oil:

Oil is one of those cupboard essentials you need for just about everything. It is also worth spending just a little more as oil will affect the flavour of your food. There is no need to go mad, just a medium priced bottle of extra virgin olive oil, however, if you’re on a tight budget, you can also opt for the cheaper options of sunflower or vegetable oil, which will do the job just as well.

A popular option nowadays is coconut oil, which can be a bit more expensive but is really good for you and also gives your food a tasty subtle coconutty flavour!

Also: lastly, no self-respecting student cupboard would be complete without salt and pepper, a range of dried herbs and a  bottle of tabasco sauce, which can mask just about anything!