Dear freshers: welcome to Warwick university! It can be extremely daunting learning how to live by yourself, especially if it’s the first time you’ve been away from home. You’ve read the guides on what to pack, and you’re making new friends, but when it comes to eating healthily and on a budget, you don’t know where to start. Here’s a few tips to enable you to hit the ground running, and make sure you don’t spend the year surviving on Pot Noodles and lying to your mum about it.
It’s worth learning what different sauces and spices can do to transform a meal. For example, pan-fried vegetables and noodles become a really authentic-tasting stir fry when you add teriyaki sauce and white wine vinegar. I would recommend adding soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato puree, BBQ sauce and sesame seed oil to your cupboards on your next big shop; these can be used to transform chilli, stir fry, Bolognese and tofu dishes, and many other simple recipes, into something to really impress your flatmates. As far as seasoning goes, salt and black pepper, all-in-one spices like Five Spice, BBQ and Italian seasonings serve as a student-friendly starter kit.
Invest in a pack of sealable Tupperware containers and some freezer bags from your local supermarket. There’s no better feeling than coming in late from the library (or Pop!) and knowing you have a ready-made, microwaveable tikka masala waiting for you.
A good rule of thumb for portioning your dried foods is to use a mug
On the same note, preparing your vegetables in advance and freezing them means that the next time you go to make spaghetti, your peppers won’t have gone off in the fridge.
A great onion-chopping tip is to cut off the ends, peel it, then slice it in half and run it under cold tap water. It’ll stop you from crying. Don’t bin your soft tomatoes and brown bananas – the first is amazing to chop into a delicious salsa or put into pasta sauce, and the second is amazing for baking banana bread (a student staple).
A good rule of thumb for portioning your dried foods is to use a mug. One full mug of pasta is a decent-to-large serving of pasta for one person, depending on the mug. One full mug of rice is good for three to four portions.
Supermarket own-brand is just as good and much cheaper than branded foods. Don’t waste your money on Heinz, Dolmio’s and Walkers. In particular, ALDI does some amazing make-it-yourself burrito, taco and enchilada kits, and Tesco baked beans are nicer than branded ones in my opinion.
Best of all, this recipe is easy to make
If after all these tips, you’re still a bit stuck on what to make for yourself, my favourite go-to recipe is good for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-lovers alike. Best of all, this recipe is easy to make.
For the cooking, you’ll need 2 x bell peppers, 1 x red onion, 300g mushrooms, 1 x pack of falafel balls, tomato puree, 4 x large wraps, BBQ seasoning, salt, pepper.
For the toppings, you can have whatever you like, but I usually go for lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream. Alternatively, you can use vegan cheddar and mayonnaise.
- Chop all the veggies. For the peppers, chop off the top and slice the body into thin pieces. Don’t forget to slice around the stem for the extra pepper. Dice the mushrooms and red onion.
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat with a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Add in the chopped veggies and sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of BBQ seasoning. Add small amounts of tomato puree, salt and pepper to taste, and stir until all the veggies have a light covering. Cook on medium for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Chop the falafel balls into small pieces, and add to the pan. Continue to cook for another 4-6 minutes.
- While the veggies are cooking, chop your salad and any other toppings to add to your fajitas. Don’t forget to grate the cheese!
- Spoon your falafel and vegetable mix into the wraps and top with salad, cheese and sour cream. Tuck in the bottom of the wrap, fold the sides and enjoy your fajitas. Leftovers can be put into containers and used another day.
Hopefully, this guide helps you out while you’re trying to find your feet in your first year at Warwick. You’ve got this!