A lot of people are starting uni around now, and are moving out on their own and having to cook for themselves. Last year I put up a post with a few of my tips for moving away to uni and making the most of it (here). This year I’ve compiled a few of my meal planning tips, to help you save money and make the most of what you buy.
Look online (or in books and magazines) for recipe ideas that are easy to make and can give you more options so you’re not just making the same five meals because that will get boring pretty quickly. It can also help give you ideas on how to use up things you might already have in. The BBC Good Food website is one of my favourites to get ideas from.
Feed your freezer. Make big batches of chilli or bolognese, divide it into portions and freeze it. It’s a great way to use up ingredients before they go off, and it means you have home made meals ready to defrost and heat up.
Stay stocked up on the basics. By basics I mean some pasta, a tin of tomatoes, baked beans, eggs, bread and some kind of frozen vegetables. Then you can make an easy dinner from anything you have in, and it might stop you from getting a take away after a night out.
Make sure you know what you do and don’t have in. This is a great way of keeping track of what you need to use up before it goes bad and it will keep you from buying things you already have in. I usually just make a note on my phone when I’m running low or out of something and always check my fridge and cupboard before I do a food shop.
Try to avoid food shopping while hungry and always make a shopping list. You’ll just end up buying things you don’t need and won’t remember the things you do need if you’re hungry! A shopping list will help you know what you actually need and stop you from wasting money!
Make group meals if you can. Fajita or taco nights can be a great way to bond with housemates, and you might be able to get out of cooking or washing up for the night and it’s always fun! I’s always fun to make a group Christmas dinner before you all go home for the holiday too!
There’s nothing wrong with home brand products (except for tea bags, you will regret that one, my friend Cat learnt that the hard way!). There really isn’t going to be a big difference between own brand frozen peas and Birdseye ones, only the price!
Also remember there’s nothing wrong with ordering in or going out for food once in a while. Most foods are freezable, so if you want to order a dominoes instead of cooking what you have in the fridge should be okay!