What do you need? Not much to be honest. First year freshers often take so much stuff that never gets used. Take the minimum, save your money.
Given that you almost certainly will initially not know how you’re going to eat, cover off the basics. There’s always local shops near the uni, a short drive or bus ride away if you need additional stuff. The best policy obviously is to take stuff from your kitchen at home if possible.
Knives, sharpeners and chopping boards
Two decent quality knives necessary – max. A short sharp veg knife and a longer one for larger veg or meat. Keep them sharp – so you need a sharpener nothing fancy just a “steel” of some description. Sharp knives mean you don’t have to put a huge amount of effort into cutting stuff so your knife is less likely to slip.
Use a chopping board – trashed work surfaces can mean loss of your deposit…. Keep it clean – wash it in hot soapy water – raw meat and salad don’t go well together. If you can have two boards all the better.
Crocks and cutlery
2 plates, a couple of mugs, a couple of glasses. 2 lots of knives and forks, 2 bowls a wooden or silicon spoon and an egg slice. Nice to have… slotted spoon (one of those with holes – good for draining pasta and rice).
A frying pan and a saucepan. Non stick means it’s easy to clean, it’s also easy to damage unless you use silicon or wooden spoons and slices. Eating non stick coating is very off-putting!!!!
Semi Luxury items
You definitely don’t need these, but just a couple of relatively inexpensive ideas….
- Small blender. You can buy these from about £20. Great for soups, sauces and smoothies.
- Toastie maker. This can be really useful and enable you to make toasties (obviously) but also grill bacon, meat and fish, make waffles (with another liner included) and panini etc etc . Good when the grill in a shared kitchen becomes yuk with other peoples’ detritus then your own appliance makes sense. Costs from £10
Food to Take
There is sometimes the opportunity to relieve your family of dry goods such as rice, pasta, tins of tomatoes, fish etc just to give you that good start. If you’re buying the food check out one of your local budget supermarkets. It’s a really good idea to get some basics so that you’re not trying to get to know the uni, the town, accommodation and food shops all in one go. Get some food in before you leave home then that’s one less thing to worry about.
You will soon find the local shop for milk, tea etc, but be aware some little corner shops positioned near student accommodation are aiming for best profits from less experienced shoppers, so ask established students where the best deals are and the location of budget supermarkets and stores. The Student Union is good for this info. Uni shop is sometimes a great place for bargains as they often pass on good deals for the students.
Storing your food
Keeping your food in a shared kitchen can have it’s drawbacks. Shared fridges and other equipment can mean using a permanent marker to label your food is a good plan, if only to prick the conscience of someone “borrowing” your milk. Keeping food in the fridge where it indicates on the packaging is essential to prevent you being unwell. Making a plan on cleaning and bin/rubbish removal is also a good idea with your fellow fast or house mates before the place gets out of control.
A good tip when you’re buying food which is essentially too much for one person to consume within the shelf life is to split the items and freeze individually. This may seem a bit of fuss, however, when you’ve thrown out chicken pieces that are inedible, or bread that’s gone mouldy you’ll be pleased to have saved your money. Equally you’ll be glad to have food available for those “all nighters”. Sliced loaves are great as you freeze them as they are and with a bit of a tap to break slices off, you can have what you need as you go. If you do this and have a decent store of rice, pasta etc you’ll always have something in the kitchen to eat when it’s throwing it down with rain outside and you don’t want to go out.