My name is Katie and I’m a final year Nutritional Sciences student. I would like to begin by saying that I am by no means an expert on the topics of food and health. However, from studying Nutritional Sciences for three years and living away from home for college, I have learned a few things along the way that I am hoping to use as helpful tips to share with all of you. While college life is full of fun and excitement, it can also be difficult at times for various reasons. For some people, it can be hard to adjust to planning and cooking your own meals each day, so hopefully this section can help someone in doing that! Just remember that everyone is different and that just because something works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. It’s all about trying different things to see what suits best for your lifestyle and schedule.
Start off by Stocking up
As the old saying goes, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. This is true for many aspects of life, including your food. If you have a well-stocked cupboard from the start of the year, it can make it much easier to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout the academic year. I find it best to stock up on non-perishable items at the start of each semester. This makes college life that little bit easier, as it means you only have to focus on purchasing perishable items during the semester. Between college work, socialising and extra-curricular activities, college can be a hectic time for most students. It makes a big difference having one less thing to think of and having some old reliables to fall back on!
I generally tend to stock up on these non-perishable items at the start of each semester, so here are some ideas that might work for you too:
- Porridge or breakfast cereal: Breakfast is known as being the most important meal of the day. Have a good stock of these from the start of the year to allow you to fit a decent breakfast into your morning. Try to choose porridge or wholegrain cereals to keep you fuller for longer and release energy slowly throughout your morning, rather than cereals which are high in sugar.
- Tins of chickpeas and beans (e.g. kidney, butter, haricot or mixed beans): These are a great addition to any dinner, such as a stir-fry, stew or curry. They have such a long life, are easy to store and require very little time to cook. They can be used to replace meat or chicken in these dishes as a source of protein and are very affordable.
- Tinned tomatoes: These can be used for the base of so many dishes, including Spaghetti Bolognese and Chilli Con Carne, or even to make a quick pasta sauce. Definitely an old reliable to have in your cupboard.
- Pasta and rice: It’s a good idea to buy a large packet of each at the start of the year, as they have a very long shelf life and you’ll almost certainly use them up. Choose brown versions if possible as they provide more fibre than their white counterparts, meaning that they will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Quinoa and couscous are also good alternatives to provide more variety in your diet. Check the cooking times on the packets when you are buying them – especially for brown rice – as times can vary from 15-30 minutes. This can make a big difference on evenings when you’re cooking in a hurry.
- Frozen vegetables: These are so handy to keep in your freezer as you don’t have to worry about them going off like fresh vegetables. They are ideal for adding into a stir-fry to bulk it up and help you to reach your recommended 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Olive oil and soy sauce: These will come in handy for a lot of different meals you may find yourself cooking throughout the semester, so having a bottle of each is a good idea.
- Seasoning (such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices): A small bit of seasoning can make a big difference to your meals. Everyone has their own preference in terms of taste, so whether it’s cinnamon for your porridge or salt and pepper for dinner, make sure you have what you need in your cupboard.
If you’re in the middle of a busy week mid-semester, rushing home from a lecture that’s run on late and dashing to get ready for prinks, you’ll be very grateful for the pasta and tinned tomatoes in your cupboard, ready to save the day and provide an emergency dinner within a matter of minutes. Organisation pays off!