The time of year is approaching when many young people are packing their bags and going to college for the first time.
Plenty will be entering self catering halls or shared houses where they will have to fend for themselves in the “food” department.
This post will hopefully help you (whether you are the young person or a parent/supporter) decide what you need to have with regards to ingredients. I have also included a few simple, tasty, economical and nutritious recipes.
The boring, but essential place to start is basic food hygiene. Click here for a few pointers.
Shopping wisely is vital.
- Vegetables: Someone always leaves a week-old broccoli shrivelled and yellow at the back of the fridge. But don’t be put off buying it in the first place, as most vegetables can either be bought fresh and put in the freezer, or come already frozen. Frozen vegetables can be incredibly cheap, last a long time and they retain their nutritional value, so stock up.
- Buy meat from the butchers: Butchers sometimes do cheap deals, and the produce is fresh. Look out for meat packs and freeze what you don’t need immediatley
- Shop in the evening for reduced prices: This is when supermarkets sell food that’s close to its sell-by date, such as bread and fruit, for a reduced price. It shouldn’t be avoided though, as often it can be frozen and eaten later.
- A budgeted weekly shop is cheaper: Save one day a week to do a big shop. Plan your meals so you don’t get tempted to overspend. Stock up on all your food groups in one trip and you’ll save money.
- Shop with a friend: If you can, co-ordinate your shopping with a friend – you can then by bogoffs (by one get one free), save the money and not waste the products.
- Don’t be conned by special offers etc : Check the prices, many price labels are aimed to confuse – look at the kilo price (or number of items if teabags etc), price.
- Share items: If possible, share items such as coffee with your house / kitchen mates – buying larger amounts in one bottle is much cheaper.
- Build your store cupboard of useful ingredients : Each week try and have enough money to add one ingredient to your storecupboard that will last for ages but give your cooking an added yummyness (such as soya sauce, herbs, spices etc.)
- Be organised: Make a list of what you are going to cook and what you need for breakfasts and snacks for the period of time you shopping has to last. Challenge yourself to stick to the list (unless there is a food item discounted that you can substitute with one on your list).
TIPS ON FOOD STORAGE:
When building and managing your store cupboard it is essential to understand how to best store food items. Click here for some great tips.
THE FACTS BEHIND THE FOOD LABELS FROM THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY.
This includes dietary and use by dates etc. Click here.
STORE CUPBOARD ESSENTIALS (AND NOT SO ESSENTIALS!)
If you are going to embrace cooking it is essential that your store cupboard becomes well stocked, making it easy to cook things from scratch or use those leftovers without the need to dash out and buy every ingredient you need to make the dish.
It can be daunting looking at a list of store cupboard essentials and feeling you need to purchase them all at once. My store cupboard has grown over years. Just add a few extra ingredients each week to your store. Only add ingredients you like and know you will use. It is not always a bargain to buy large quantities. Some food items (like herbs and spices) lose there flavour over time, other items, like pasta keep almost for ever (despite sell buy date, not a lot can happen to pasta if kept covered and dry).
The store cupboard suggestions below are extensive. It covers items that can be kept at room temperature and items that can be kept chilled and frozen. Items with a * are essential, providing you like them. Other items are great to have, particularly if you have, or are developing, a large recipe repertoire. The more store cupboard items you have, the more you will be-able to use almost any leftover in an inventive way
A few recipes:
- Chicken curry
- Chick pea potato and spinach curry
- Bolognaise (adapt to make chilli)
- Macaroni Cheese
- Mushroom risotto
- Tomato sauce
- Bread and butter pudding
Remember – the main thing is to enjoy feeding yourself and friends if sharing cooking.