For my first year I was in self-catering halls which was a bit of a challenge at times. Not only because my flat mates would hold quite a few house parties so use of the kitchen was limited, also in the fact that I did not really know what I was doing the first few weeks. I was kinda just living off baked potatoes and pasta which although isn’t a bad choice, there are loads of other foods out there and ways of cooking for yourself which would lead to an easier life … in my opinion anyway. So in the following paragraphs I am going to share with you some tips of how to survive Self-catering halls.
1. Make a plan for your weekly shop
When shopping for food it is so easy (especially when you are hungry) to just go to supermarket and buy food without thinking about the cost of it all. I remember one week spending like £50 on food which now I think back to it was a bit ridiculous for a weekly shop but that was because I hadn’t budgeted or written a list of food I needed to get so I just went in to the shop and bought whatever looked good. I ended up having too much food which I didn’t eat and it went off – a huge waste of money which I could have spent on something else. So I would definitely plan a budget for food each week. I probably spent around £20 per week but it depends where you shop and how much you like to eat. Just make sure you have a budget! Also try not to go shopping when you are hungry as you will come back with more food than expected haha. Another tip I would have is writing a list of all the food you need for that week. So then when you go to the supermarket you only stick to list meaning you shouldn’t buy any food that will go uneaten.
2. Make a meal plan
I did not do this first year but now looking back I wish I had. I had a lot of days where I didn’t really know what to make. I didn’t have another food to make a meal so I ended up having cereal or an apple which was not large enough for my main meal. So I would definitely plan out your meals in advance so you know what you plan to cook and what you need to get at the supermarket that week. Planning is also useful because when you know you won’t have much time one day, you can plan to have a quick meal which is better then not being prepared and going hungry. My friend does a 4 week meal plan which might sound ridiculous to plan that much in advance and obviously things might change but it worked well for her and at the beginning of the week she would make a large lasagne or spag Bol and then just freeze the portions and have one portion every week. So if she made enough for four people she would then have one portion a week for the 4 weeks. So I would seriously consider doing this if you haven’t already.
3.Choose your supermarket carefully
So most of the time people will just go to the supermarket closest to them as it is more convenient if you are doing a large food shop to carry your bags a short way however, I would suggest looking around and seeing where the other supermarkets are as I had a co-op about 2 minutes away but the thing is that co-op is relatively expensive. I then had an Aldi about 15 minutes away which although is a bit of a bummer when it’s raining and you have heavy bags but the price of my food shop was so cheap at Aldi compared to co-op. So I would definitely shop around and look for the best prices. I ended up using ASDA delivery for my big food shops as I didn’t have an ASDA close so I got it delivered for a £1 to my halls of residence and all I had to do was carry it in the lift to my flat. I then just used co-op for any extra things I might have ran out of during the week like milk or veg.
4. Takeaways are okay
The likely hood is that at some stage in your uni life you will be eat some takeaways. It’s bound to happen if you can’t be bothered to cook or maybe you are ill and need something hot you might get a deliveroo or dominoes. I got quite a few takeaways (mainly pizza) and although they are quite expensive, in moderation I think it is okay to treat yourself to a takeaway – if you have the money haha! You do not have to feel bad about having a takeaway because as a student it’s just part of life. I would say though do not eat a takeaway more than like once a week as it can get expensive and addictive! Ordering pizza became addictive for me as I would just crave takeaways everyday. Also I got the apps on my phone for the takeaway places and this was pretty lethal as it was so easy to just get food delivered to my door so maybe try not to get the apps and it will be less appealing to order a takeaway ☺️.
5. Staple Meals
Here are some staple meals that I would suggest when self-catering are as follows;
~ Spag Bol
~ Stir Fry
~ Sausages and Mash
~ Jacket Potatoes
~ Scrambled egg and toast
~ Quiche and veg
~ Filled Pasta and tomato sauce
~ Chicken Nuggets and Chips (haha)
~ Curry (Chilli Con Carne)
Obviously as you can probably tell I am not a vegetarian but I’m sure if you are a vegetarian you could have vegetable stew, lentil curry, mash and omelettes or substitute the meat for quorn.
I hope you enjoyed these 5 tips on how to survive being self catered. Obviously these are all my own opinions and you do not have to listen to any of them but I have found these useful and will be planning my meals more for this year. I hope you all enjoyed being self-catered those who have never been self-catered before and for those who may have already been. If you have any tips or opinions on what has been said please let us know we would love to hear it!