Tips for first-years: You don’t always have to cook from a recipe

To make the transition to a new life in a new city a bit smoother, UKrant‘s student editors give their top tips. Final installment: you don’t always have to cook from a recipe.

It’s Wednesday afternoon, around 5 p.m. You’ve just finished your classes, and your stomach is audibly growling. Before your soccer practice, committee meeting, or favourite TV show starts, you need to eat. Are you really going to… cook? Look up a recipe, go grocery shopping, follow the recipe, and then do the dishes?

The temptation might be strong to throw a pizza in the oven or order takeout. While that’s perfectly fine from time to time, I’m going to tell you about a cheaper and healthier alternative: improvisational cooking!

You don’t really need a complete recipe with all the ingredients to put a delicious and nutritious meal on the table. Open your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator and see what you have. Any random vegetables, onions, cheese, eggs? Then you’re all set!


The vegetables can be zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, or whatever you like and have on hand. With these, you can make a frittata by first sautéing the onions and vegetables, adding some Italian herbs, pepper, and salt. Beat the eggs in a bowl with cheese and pour that mixture into the pan with the vegetables. Cook it on low heat with a lid on, and your frittata will be ready in about fifteen minutes.

If you happen to have a bit of cream or boiled potatoes, those can be tasty additions too. Spring onions, bread, or some lettuce can accompany it, but it’s not necessary!


This is how I’ve survived my time at uni so far. Nobody is a superhuman and can make an elaborate meal every day, but you really don’t have to. Here are a few tips to make cooking during your student years as delicious, affordable, and nutritious as possible:

  • Check which vegetables are on sale and cook with them; these are likely to be seasonal vegetables, which are the tastiest, most environmentally friendly, and cheapest.
  • Make sure you always have staple ingredients on hand: wraps, rice, pasta, beans, chickpeas, canned diced tomatoes. These don’t expire quickly and will always come in handy.
  • Learn to cook three meals well, perhaps something you already know. From there, you can add variety and complexity, but start small.
  • Cook with other people! Housemates can teach you new things, and it’s a fun way to get to know each other. If you don’t have housemates, ask someone to cook together for an event or after a class.
  • Lastly, don’t stress! It might take a while to figure out what works for you, but the occasional pizza isn’t the end of the world either.

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