Pizza can be very tasty, but not every day. How to find the time to cook? How to know what to cook? Are there certain ingredients you should you always have? Two chefs share their strategies for the perfect student meal. ‘Avocados are awesome.’
1. Plan your meals by the week
The most important thing you can prepare before cooking is just that: to be prepared. Choosing recipes and shopping for groceries are the first step to a good meal and these, according to TV chef and vinologist Robert Verweij, are often the first hurdle. ‘People are busy. You have to make it easy for them.’ His advice: plan a menu for the week on Sunday and go shopping on Monday. And to keep costs down, choose meals based on seasonal vegetables and go to markets.
Leonie ter Veld, owner of the popular blog gewoonwateenstudentjesavondseet.nl advises students to choose a simple base for each dish. ‘Think potato, rice, pasta or wraps’, she says. ‘Then add your vegetables, meat, fish. And remember, a couple of different vegetables will be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than a piece of meat or fish’.
2. Leftovers are your friend
It might take some time to get used to the forward planning, but it really helps, says Verweij. And while you’re planning: ‘Cook more than you need and you can incorporate the leftovers into a new dish the next day. For instance if you have leftover rice, fry it. Or if you have potatoes, mash them’. And remember your freezer for those times you’re sick of eating leftovers. Leonie: ‘Try exchanging meals with friends to mix things up.’
3. Stock your cupboard
You can always rustle something up from a well-stocked cupboard, so it’s important to keep a couple basics. ‘Think couscous, tuna, bread, pasta, tomato puree and some sausages in the freezer’, says Verweij. Leonie’s ‘basics’ include olive oil, garlic, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, couscous and avocado. ‘Avocados are awesome because of their versatility.’
4. Keep it simple
‘If you’re lacking inspiration what to cook, you can check your list and adapt. Maybe you have some rice leftover and it inspires you to make an easy Japanese salad.’ It’s also a good idea to choose dishes that you can cook in about fifteen minutes. Leonie: ‘Pasta with pesto, home-made soup, mashed potatoes, couscous or pasta... Good food can be simple and quick to make.’
5. A date? Buy sashimi
Buy the best salmon you can afford, add sugar and lots of salt – more than you’d like to eat – and put it in the fridge for twenty minutes, says Verweij. Then rinse, pat dry, cut into nice slices and serve with soy sauce. Thank us later.
Share your own advice in the comment section below!