1. Get practicing before you leave home. Having the basic techniques under your belt will help massively in terms of confidence and knowing what equipment to take.
2. Find someone to cook with you; it can be really useful to have someone to ask/blame. If you don’t, then follow the recipe very carefully. You can always tweet me if you have any queries.
3. Things will go wrong, don’t stress about it. I still make mistakes all the time and they are great because you learn from them. The mark of a good cook is knowing how to avoid and rectify these mistakes. This will come in time.
4. Make sure you read the recipe through. Sometimes things need to be pre-heated, pre-chopped or cooked for a long time. You don’t want to find yourself half way through a recipe and find you don’t have the time to do it.
5. Eat vegetarian! It can be a really good way to save those pennies.
6. Get your flatmates to contribute towards store cupboard essentials such as herbs and spices. They tend to last for a long time and make such a difference to a dish. Well worth it!
7. Shopping is key. Go to butchers and fishmongers if you can. They often have superior knowledge, which can include great advice on what to do with cheap cuts of meat or fish. It can be worth saving your money for good quality meat rather than buying as cheap as possible from the supermarket. The taste is often infinitely better.
8. Shop smart- make a plan before you head to the supermarket with what you want to eat over the next couple of days. Don’t go when you are hungry or you will impulse buy anything and everything. Find out when the reduced section will be fully stocked and raid it for last minute bargains. Often supermarket own-brands can be better and cheaper; don’t get fooled by fancy packaging. Keep an eye on that sell-by date. There is nothing worse than buying food that sneakily goes off very quickly.
9. Plan to cook dishes that can last for more than one meal. A stew, a tart or a curry can last for a few days. A whole chicken can be more expensive than a pack of breasts but you can fillet it, then it can last for at least 2-3 meals. The freezer is also a really good tool to use for stretching ingredients to multiple meals.
10. Finally, cooking with your friends and flatmates is a great way to reduce costs. It is a great social event, splits the bill and brings everyone together. Every Tuesday night, in first year, we had a dinner party for 10-15 people. It allowed us to have massive homely roasts for just a few quid but also meant that we met new people and had a great time.