Let me be honest, I’m never going to be the next Jamie Oliver. I dread to think what Gordon Ramsey would say about my food. I don’t have a leg to stand on when I make fun of Great British Bake-Off mistakes. I sent innumerable texts to my Mum in the first term, spamming her with cooking questions; “how do I use the oven?”, “when do I know an egg is cooked?”, “is a jacket potato meant to look like this?”
Many of these texts were accompanied with pictures of what are best described as cooking disasters.
But if I, who have been known to shout “how did I make Angel Delight wrong?”, can fend for myself, anyone can. Here are my tips for those who are novices when it comes to cooking.
Student cooking books
I’ve got more student cookbooks than you can shake a spoon at! And they are such a great help! Admittedly I do steer clear of recipes with more than 5 ingredients but, if I am feeling adventurous, the easy to follow guides are so useful. They also give you some great (and cheap) ideas if you’re getting bored of beans on toast. They tend to include the basics as well and show you different ways to cook simple food. One I would definitely recommend is ‘Nosh for Students’ by Joy May – for under £10 you really can’t go wrong! With some decent student cookbooks, one thing you won’t have to google constantly is how to boil an egg.
If you can plan your meals in advance, do it! Even if you don’t stick to your plan exactly, it helps give you a rough idea of the food you need to buy that week, as well as what perishable food you need to use on successive days which helps minimise waste. Organise yourself enough to open a pack of bacon one day, and use the rest of the pack before it goes off! You’ll feel a lot more confident in the kitchen if you have a rough idea of what you plan to cook, and you won’t feel so lost when it’s time to make dinner.
Learn how to use your oven. And once you’ve learnt that, remember that you need to heat up the oven before you can start cooking. I cannot tell you the amount of times I went to make food when I was starving, only to remember I’d forgotten to factor in the time taken to heat up the oven. Or worse, being halfway into something cooking and remembering I didn’t turn it on…
Learn from mistakes
If you try out a new recipe and it doesn’t go to plan, don’t be disheartened! It takes time to learn how to make something properly, and you’ll know what to do differently next time. I won’t horrify you with the picture of how wrong an omelette can go, but rest assured if you do manage to make something spectacularly wrong, it can only go better the next time!
And for anyone feeling slightly nervous about cooking for yourself, is it is a lot harder to get food poisoning than you think.