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You don’t need the equipment of Raymond Blanc to be able to rustle up a decent meal, but there are some things that make life so much easier:
- Knives – blunt knives are frustrating and can be more dangerous than sharp ones. It’s worth investing in a small knife for preparing food and a larger one for slicing bread, meat etc. A knife sharpener is a very useful tool too.
- Chopping boards – ideally you will have two, one for raw meat and one for everything else. However if you only have one remember to wash thoroughly with hot water and detergent after using it for any raw meat or fish.
- Saucepans – try and use one that is the right size for what you are cooking; too large and it will be wasting energy. Use the lid while cooking as this also saves energy and stops the kitchen becoming like a sauna.
- Slow cookers are an excellent piece of equipment, use very little electricity and cook large amounts which you can portion up and freeze for another day. However, you need to be organised to use one; you need to start the meal off in the morning to be ready for the evening, so they are not suitable for everyone!
- Clean and tidy as you go! Remember to always wash hands before and after handling food, especially raw meat and fish; if you wash up and clean as you go along there is less to do once you have eaten your meal, giving you more time for socialising (or studying)!
- Make a list and keep to it! It is very easy to be tempted once you are there into buying things you don’t really need.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach – you will be much more tempted to buy stuff you don’t need.
- Try your local market for fresh fruit and veg, it can often be cheaper than the supermarket. If you go late in the day, stalls are often selling off produce cheaply to get rid of it. However, rule 1 still applies, don’t buy what you don’t need.
- Club together to buy things you all use as bigger packs are often more economical.
- Look out for supermarket own label and value ranges.
- Larger supermarkets often have aisles devoted to world foods; you may find some staples (e.g. rice, tins of pulses), herbs and spices to be much cheaper here than in the standard food aisles.
- Try out the cheaper supermarkets rather than just the big 4.
- Every shop tries to tempt you with offers; 3 for 2, buy one get one free, remember that they are only really a bargain if you are going to be able to use it all before the sell by date!
We all know we are supposed to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day, but what is a portion? Does it have to be fresh? Can I count fruit juice? Are chips a vegetable?
Here is our handy guide to what’s what…
A portion of fresh fruit or veg is around 80g. This equates to roughly:
- 1 medium apple, pear, orange, peach, nectarine, tomato etc.
- 2 clementines, satsumas, plums or equivalent size fruit.
- 2 handfuls of blueberries or raspberries.
- a dessert bowl full of lettuce or salad leaves.
- 3 heaped tablespoons of chopped up or small veg (e.g. sliced carrots, peas, runner beans etc.).
- 3 heaped tablespoons of pulses (you can only count one portion of these towards your 5 a day).
- Around 1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (e.g. sultanas, fruit mix, cherries) is one portion.
- Tinned fruit and veg also counts, just try to equate to the portions outlined above.
Only one of your 5 a day can be a 150ml glass of fruit juice or a smoothie, no matter how many glasses you actually drink.
…and no, sorry, chips don’t count!
You’ve unpacked your stuff, found the kitchen and now you are entering into unknown territory; cooking!
We hope that this guide will help you to eat well while you are away from home. In it you will find hints and tips on shopping for food, how to get your “five a day”, and some basic recipes.