Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Cooking

Healthier eating as a student

  

📥  First year, Mia (Business Administration)

Pepper, Tomato, Feta and Pesto Pizza

It can be difficult to get into good habits when you live on your own, without your parents moaning at you to not eat the entire family sized bar of chocolate that mum bought yesterday, or to stop binge eating crisps instead of fruit, and to not order your third Domino’s of the week. And the worst sin of them all: ready meals. However, I truly believe that having a healthy diet leads to a healthier mind, more energy, more motivation and a better mood. I’ve written this post to give some tips on how to eat healthy and delicious meals on a student budget, and have included some of my favourite quick and easy recipes.

Food blogs can be an absolute knight in shining armour when it comes to healthy eating. Depending on your diet, allergies and tastes, there is a food blog out there for everyone. Some of my favourites are:

  • Deliciously Ella is great for veggie lovers. My personal favourite recipe of hers, is her Summer Vegetable Risotto. I don’t use the fancy pastes or every vegetable. But it’s a perfect super easy meal, that’s great to use leftover veg in and keep for lunch the next day.
  • The Almond Eater is another great blog for clean eating inspiration. I am obsessed with the Tomato and Garlic Pasta, its so so tasty! She also has yummy pancake recipes for a weekend breakfast treat.
  • I also love Lexi’s Clean Kitchen () and Clean Eating Alice on Instagram.

I personally love cooking and don’t mind spending a little bit longer making dinner when I know it’s going to taste amazing. I feel like if you put some herbs and spices on even the blandest of food you can make a delicious meal. And it’s so simple. Even putting a chicken breast with basil and lemon in the oven for 30 minutes, is going to be so much better for you than any ready meal in plastic shoved in a microwave. You can pretty much go by the rule that if it takes under 10 minutes to cook, it’s not going to be good for you.

In terms of cost, you could consider cutting down on meat (particularly red meat), only buy in season fruit ad veg, do not fear reduced items (they’re still going to be fresher than ready meals) and plan your weekly meals. This means you’ll stick to your shopping list, won’t waste food you bought on a whim and you can keep a track on your food budget better.

This by no means is any sort of diet plan for weight loss or gain. But by avoiding food we all know are full of salt and fat and fake flavours, you can make tasty meals like this cheaply and easily. And I promise, you’ll feel so much better for it.

Here are some of the dishes I have recently made:

Lemon Chicken and Pomegranate Salad

Lemon Chicken and Pomegranate Salad

My favourite- Summer Vegetable Risotto

My favourite- Summer Vegetable Risotto

Pepper, Tomato, Feta and Pesto Pizza

Pepper, Tomato, Feta and Pesto Pizza

Tomato and Garlic Pasta cooking away

Tomato and Garlic Pasta cooking away

 

The best revision food

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

With exams just around the corner, revision is the one thing that is (or at least, should be) on everyone's minds right now. Having already given you my top tips to survive exams, the next thought on every student's mind is food.

Being away from home means that you have to think and plan for these things. You don't get the guarantee that there will be one hot meal placed on the table each night like you do at home. You're living on your own, and you've got to get it sorted. On top of that, revision makes us all hungry. Surely you know that by now? So, with this in mind, I decided it was time to start working out what the best revision food is, and for that, sixteen of my friends told me their favourite revision foods.

You probably won't be that surprised to hear that eleven of the answers included something chocolate based - biscuits (Oreos, bourbons, you know the deal), hot chocolate, eclairs, covered raisins, or even just plain old chocolate itself. I was also told that chocolate covered coffee beans are a great way to stay alert. Personally, I can't imagine anything worse.

I got a few 'healthy' (ish) answers, too - cheese, frozen grapes, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries and toast. Oh, and of course, those chocolate raisins are a great way to 'at least kid yourself into being healthy'.

With the only other suggestions being crisps, Haribo, Ben and Jerrys ice cream, tea, other types of biscuits and Monster energy drink (great for an all nighter apparently, not that that's generally advised), I decided I was going to have to give them a little prompt. What's the REAL FOOD that you eat? Because of course all students, myself included, eat three regular meals each day like I told you to do back in January (yes, that's sarcasm). We got as far as pizza (is that really an improvement on the previous list?) and pasta bake.

The top piece of meal advice however came from a fourth year: 'Spending Sunday evening making up batches of pasta bake/bolognese/curry which can be frozen and reheated for the rest of the week typically works best for me :-)'. It means your cooking time in the week is super short, you can stay focussed, and you don't have to get bored of eating pasta every single night or spend money that you don't have ordering takeaway.

Personally, I'm one of those people who has my routines and sticks to them. It's granola and yoghurt or Nutella on toast for breakfast, salad or soup for lunch, and whatever I have in the cupboard for tea. The last few weeks has resolved largely around quick things - pasta and homemade veggie sauce or stir fry, or things that you can 'leave to cook' - sausage hotpot, baked chicken with vegetables and potatoes all wrapped in a foil package. I've got four portions of frozen curry and two of frozen chilli for emergencies, but equally, there's one pizza in my freezer.

I guess what I'm saying is plan and practice. Back in September I hated the freezer but now I'm using it for everything from bread to chicken and full on meals. This year, I've developed the ability to make just about any meal with no more than ten minutes of prep, and it hasn't meant that I've had to sacrifice my love of vegetables, either. I'm sure my flat mates would happily tell you all about my vegetable obsession.

Homemade chicken pie!

Homemade chicken pie!

Good luck with your exams (and appreciate the home cooked meals while you can, it's all going to change when you're at university in September!)

Thank you to Alex, Alice, Andy, Beckie, Catherine, Charlotte, Chloe, Ella, Ellie, Jess, Kat W, Kat R, KH, Lizzie, Lizzy, and Rachael for all your help in writing this blog!

 

Cooking in Self-Catered Accommodation

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Hannah

When choosing accommodation for your first year at university the main decision you’ll have to make is between catered and self-catered. There are of course pros and cons to both and it’s quite a difficult choice to make when you’ve had no experience of living in them. A lot of people panic about cooking and cleaning for themselves at university and I wasn’t any different. Before I came to university I had a reputation in my family for being a terrible cook. So I always thought that I would live in a catered accommodation. It can make life easier, as there’s no stress about cooking when you’re tired or have a lot of work to do and you don’t need to do regular food shopping. Have a read of Joseph’s blog for more info about living in catered accommodation at Bath University.

But surprisingly enough I chose to live in self-catered. As my parents pointed out everyone is self-catered in second year anyway and first year is quite a good time to get used to looking after yourself. You have less to do in first year and so more time for cooking! However, and I cannot say this enough, I knew absolutely nothing about cooking before I came to university. I used to phone my parents and friends for advice every time I made a meal. If this is you, don’t worry. Uni is actually a great place to try stuff out and it’s totally stress free because you’re only cooking for yourself. This means you get to cook exactly what you want and if you make a mistake or it doesn’t look like the picture in the recipe book doesn’t matter! It will also provide a lot of laughs for your new housemates!

Shopping

Food shopping is a pretty important part of self-catering and if you don’t keep on top of it you will end up eating a lot of pasta and toast. As the uni isn’t in town and is on the top of a massive hill shopping can seem like a bit of a pain at first. No one wants to trek all the way into town every single week and haul a load of shopping back on the bus. There is a shop, Fresh, on Campus but because it’s the only one buying food there can end up being expensive. Although there are lots of fairly cheap restaurants and food outlets on campus it’s nice to make your own meals in your kitchen – this for me was the best way to get to know your flatmates. So my solution was online shopping. Delivery vans are a common sight on the roads around Eastwood. I usually shop with Asda and get good deals and good quality food.

Cupboard stocked-up!

Cupboard stocked-up!

However supermarkets aren’t really geared to people only shopping for food for one person. Most deals include 2 or 3 of something when you only need one or big packets that go off after you’ve only eaten one portion of them. This is where your new best friend, the freezer, comes in handy. I often cook three or four servings of a meal in one go and then freeze the rest. This can be really helpful if you have any late night training or societies as you can just heat up your dinner when you get home (and it’s healthier than ready-made meals). Also another way of getting around this problem is to do one shop every two weeks. This means you can buy some things, like meat, in bulk and stock up on things like milk and bread as and when you run out.

Ideally I aim to spend £25-£30 a week on food, though sometimes I do go over this, especially if Fresh have their £3 Ben and Jerry’s deal! Also don’t worry of you find you spend too much or you always buy too much/too little when you first come to uni. It takes a bit of time to work out what’s right for you.

Cooking

Shopping is the easy bit – now you’ve got to actually cook it! It can be very tempting at the beginning to try and live off pasta, especially after Fresher’s week when you barely have the energy to get out of bed and go to lectures let alone cook. And I won’t deny it – pasta is great. You can have loads of different sauces with it, it goes with meat and vegetable and it’s a quick and easy dish. But it can get quite boring and pasta 7 days a week is not exactly healthy eating. Most of my family are very good cooks so I am quite used to eating good home cooked food and a few weeks into university I realised how much I was missing it. So I did some research online and found some simple and cheap recipes that came out really well.

Student Recipes is a good site because it organises its recipes by ingredients so if you’ve bought some chicken and aren’t quite sure what to do with it have a look on here for a really varied list of meals with chicken.

BBC Good Food is good for all the basics. There are a lot of really easy dishes that I didn’t know or understand the methods for and they are really well explained here.

Online recipes are also good as people leave comments of their own experiences making the dish and suggestions for improvement, so have a quick flick through before you start!

Batch of shepherd's pie

Batch of shepherd's pie

I have several easy to make meals that I always fall back on. Chilli con carne is one of my favourites, simple to make, freezeable (and doesn’t lose any of its taste when reheated), and you can have it with rice, cous cous or pasta so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the same meal over and over again. Risotto is good as well – you can add virtually anything to it which is a good way of using up any left overs. Other simple meals are roasted vegetables, shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes, sausages, quiche, frittata, toad in the hole…it all depends on what you like! Some people like to cook with their friends and take it in turn to cook for each other which can give you a bit of a break. Just make sure you find someone with similar tastes to you!

In the end I was really glad I chose self-catered accommodation – I now enjoy cooking (and I used to hate it) and its fun trying out new recipes even if sometimes they don’t work out. So don’t be put off applying to self-catered because you feel like you can’t cook, it’s a great time and place to learn!

 

"Surviving" Halls

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📥  Harry, School of Management

Living in halls has to be one of the most talked about subjects when it comes to university and that's because everyone's experience will be different. Not only from university to university but also differences between the different halls available. At Bath that means you could be in a number of different blocks, on or off campus - all have their benefits and disadvantages.

I'm in the perhaps unusual situation of sharing a flat with only two others in a small house of only 36 students (Osborne House in case you want to search it up on the uni's accommodation site). Some of my friends are sharing flats with 20 people with hundreds of students in the same building (Quads) Where you will stay will come down to 2 things: where you would like to stay / what preferences you have and also how early you apply! It's first come first serve so make sure to get your application in very early to ensure you get your first choice accommodation.

The fun bit:

So what's it's actually like to live in halls you ask? Totally awesome I say... If this is your first time living away from home, or even if it's not, then you're going to love it. It's a lot of fun to be living with friends and always having some around to do anything from just having a cuppa and a chat with to going on nights out with. You'll find someone who shares your interests - no matter how obscure. So, just to give you a snapshot I'll highlight two things me and my flatmates have been up to this week!

1. The Walking Dead... For those of you not familiar with this relaxing TV show, it's a dramatic horror series set in a post apocalyptic world where the dead have come back to life leaving a few pathetic humans to wonder round trying not to get eaten. So this week we've been watching an episode every day (we're not addicted, honest) but with one small twist... We've all assigned each other a minor character (you'll soon understand why a major character would be cheating) based on our personalities in real life. The aim of course, to see who can survive through the series the longest! I'm pleased to report (at time of writing) as of episode 5; series 1 I am still going strong, unfortunately so are the others but I will report any updates in future blog posts!

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

2. Pancakessss. Who doesn't love pancakes right? Everyone loves pancakes so we've made it a flat tradition (of which you will make many- both wonderful and bizarre!) to make pancakes every weekend when we're all in the flat. This is a great way to get everyone together and to chill out at the weekend so make sure to brush up your culinary skills before you come (I hear cake goes down equally well!) So yes, as you can see from the image we were very proud of our efforts.

Pancakes!

Pancakes!

So these are just a few of the many things you can get up to in halls... I hope to be sharing some more halls activities amongst many other university related things very soon!

Until then!
Harry.