On arrival on campus on my first day last year, I was under the impression that the place was vast. There’s a flipping lake between me and the supermarket. And loads of geese. Can I eat the goose? No. Apparently they don’t take kindly to humans approaching with carving knife. So please peruse this little list of helpful hints which may give you a few sneaky tricks and dodges you hadn’t already thought of.
1. York campus does not lend itself to cheap supermarket shopping. Costcutter is useful but like any small supermarket it is not the most economical. If you have a bike, cycle to Morrisons along James Street between campus and town. Even better, if you have a car or a friend with a car (make friends with Second Years, they can be useful), persuade or bribe them to take you to Monks Cross where there are plenty of supermarkets from which to take your pick.
2. Problem: how to reach supermarket without being attacked by hormonal geese? Solution: make the supermarket come to you and they can fight the geese instead. Order online and the supermarket delivers to your door. Order in tandem with other flatmates and you save on the delivery charge. Double tap.
3. Shop late at night. Particularly with the 24/7 shops, this can save you much dollar as sell-by dates loom and supermarkets slash prices to get rid of their stock. Steak for 50p? Yes please.
4. Bring Tupperware and/or cling film. Cook for two because it’s more economical, whip out a Tupperware and whack half of what you’ve cooked into the freezer. Thursday night’s supper sorted on Sunday. Happy days.
5. Do not steal other people’s food. I know it sounds obvious, but no matter how tempting that stew left to cool on the cooker looks when you come in from a night out, remember that the quickest way to lose friends is by abusing their trust.
6. Make sure you buy easy supplies for the first couple of weeks. Let’s be honest, no matter how many Michelin stars your mum thinks you deserve, cooking is not going to be your priority over the first few days. That said, the kitchen is the most sociable place to be when you don’t know your flatmate well enough to lounge on his/her bed.
7. Music may make the people come together, but food does just as much good. Cook something like flapjacks (oats, butter, brown sugar, golden syrup) for housemates. Everyone loves someone who gives you food.
8. Having bought your lovely healthy vegetables just so you can say to your mum you have, don’t leave them in a plastic bag. Vegetables sweat just like people; imagine what you would smell like if you’d been wrapped in plastic for a week.
9. Before you buy a student cookbook have a quick flick through. They range from the four ingredient horrors (in my opinion) which teach you how to heat up pizza and make baked beans on toast, to the student gourmet guide. If you will never cook the first five recipes in the book, it’s probably not worth it.
10. Do not lose faith. Cooking for yourself is cheaper and healthier than ready meals or canteen meals, and everyone loves someone who can rustle up a delicious morsel. Keep at it, you will make a Ramsay of yourself yet.