No matter how many student cookbooks you get given, a lot of them don’t have clear guidelines of how to prepare food, so how can it be possible to create meals that look as good as the recipe book photos? Luckily for you, this article will tell you how to do just that!

Learning to cook is an easy and awesome way to master a life skill that will always be important to have. Cooking is also a brilliant activity to do with your new friends or housemates at uni if you want to do something exciting, but not have to spend lots of money in order to have fun. So we've prepared a basic guide to help you make some super tasty food safely!

 

Essential Cooking Equipment

Having the right equipment will help you from the very start. If you’re using the wrong equipment then it’ll make even the easiest task difficult! Investing in good equipment will save you money in the long term because you’ll most likely use them throughout your entire time at uni. Here are our suggestions:

Knives: A Paring knife is good for cutting vegetables and a Chef’s knife is good for cutting any meat or larger vegetables.

Chopping Boards: A plastic chopping board can be de-germed very easily so they're good for cutting meat on. Wooden chopping boards are sturdier and perfect for cutting your veg on.

Small and Large Saucepan: These are incredibly versatile. You can use them to cook your pasta, rice, noodles, eggs, sauces and much more! Having a small and large saucepan will enable you to make small meals for one or whoel batch if you want to make more than one serving.

Small and Large Frying Pan: A small frying pan is good when cooking for one, but a large frying pan is good for making your entire batch of bolognese, risotto and any other larger meals.

Baking Tray: Perfect for baking or putting your pizza on. You can use this to melt cheese onto potatoes and toast if you want, too!

Roasting Pan: Although you may not use this pan all the time, they will last you a lifetime. They will also save you a lot of time and effort if you ever want to make a lasagne or pasta bake. You can roast chicken and beef in it too if you and your housemates want to make a roast dinner for any special occasion.

Spatula and a large Wooden spoon: Good for stirring, flipping and mixing your ingredients when cooking.

Peeler: This will help you peel potatoes, carrots and any other veg very easily.

 

Here is a list of some other equipment you might want to get:

  • Whisk to get lumps out of your sauces or pancake batter.
  • Scissors to get into difficult packaging.
  • Pizza Cutter to cut up your pizza nicely.
  • Potato Masher to get nice and smooth mashed potato.

Cooking Methods You Can Easily Master

Eggs

Boiled eggs: Put your room temperature eggs in a small pan. Pour boiling water over the eggs. Boil and simmer for approximately 2-3 minutes for soft boiled and longer for hard boiled eggs. Times will differ depending on the size of the egg and how hard you like your eggs.

Scrambled eggs: Heat a teaspoon of oil in a hot saucepan. Crack the eggs in and stir constantly. After 30 seconds of cooking, take the pan off the heat and keep stirring for 30 seconds. Put back on the heat and repeat until cooked. Add butter for a creamy texture.

Fried eggs: In a hot frying pan, pour in enough oil to nearly cover the base. Gently crack the eggs in and fry until the edges of the yolk are white, or longer if you prefer a harder yolk. Dab with kitchen towel when serving to soak up excess oil.

Vegetables

To Boil...

Frozen peas and sweetcorn: Boil then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Carrots: Boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Broccoli: Boil then simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Potatoes: Boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

 

To Fry in a tablespoon of oil...

Onions: Fry on a high heat for around 5 minutes.

Peppers: Fry on a high heat for around 5 minutes.

Garlic: Fry 30 seconds or 1 minute before serving or before any sauces are added.

 

To Roast in a tablespoon or two of oil at 190 degrees / Gas mark 5…

Potatoes: First, boil and simmer the potatoes for 6 minutes (parboiling). Then, toss potatoes in oil in a roasting pan or tray and roast in oven for 30-40 minutes.

Peppers: Roast for 15-20 minutes.

Onions: Roast for 20-25 minutes.

Carrots: Roast for 20 minutes.

Meat

Fry on a medium to high heat in a tablespoon of oil...

Chicken: Fry for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the chunks.

Mince: Fry until the mince turns brown and no pink is left.

Sausages: Fry until brown all over. This may take longer depending on how thick your sausages are.

Bacon: Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Fry longer for more crispy bacon.

 

Carbohydrates

Pasta: In a small pan (or large if you are making more than one portion) add a sprinkle of salt and your pasta. Pour in boiling water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Noodles: Boil and simmer for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness.

Rice: Boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Do not open lid until it has cooked.

Risotto: Follow packet instructions or boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir thoroughly and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Chips: Follow packet instructions or bake on a high heat for around 20-30 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes: Boil and simmer potatoes for 10 minutes. Mash with a touch of milk or butter. Add salt, pepper and dried herbs if desired. Mash until creamy or to the consistency you like.

 
To find out more, check out our complete guide here.

 

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