There are a few things that everyone should know how to do kitchen cook rice, cook pasta, chop an onion, etc.—and preferably, you’d like to know how to do them well so you don’t burn the rice, ruin the pasta, and cry while dicing an onion.

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The thought of suddenly having to fend for yourself and your own diet can be daunting for some students, but the sooner you get the hang of things and feel confident in the kitchen, the more enjoyable (and cheaper) it will be.

Top 5 Cooking Tips:

• Use these tips to inspire healthy habits in the kitchen.
Couple cooking together preserves the nutrients and colors in veggies. Cook them quickly by steaming or stir-frying.

• Use herbs, vinegar, tomatoes, onions and/or fat-free or low-fat sauces or salad dressings for better health, especially if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

• Use your time and your freezer wisely. When you cook once, make it last longer by preparing enough for several other meals. Freeze it and have a ready-made healthy treat for the next time you are simply too tired to bother.

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• A smoothie can cover a multitude of needs. Throw a banana (you can keep them in the freezer for weeks) into your blender along with frozen berries, kiwi or whatever fruit is around, some orange or other 100% juice, some fat-free or low-fat yogurt. You can get 4–5 servings of fruit in one glass of yummy shake. Try getting your loved one to sip on a smoothie. It’s easy, cool, refreshing and healthy.

• Prepared seasonings can have high salt content and increase your risk for high blood pressure. Replace salt with herbs and spices or some of the salt-free seasoning mixes. Use lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies to add flavor.

1. Master the art of seasoning

Don’t be afraid of opting for the supermarket downshift and going for ‘basics’ when doing your weekly shop.

A 15p can of beans or a 12p pack of noodles might not look so appetizing on the shelf, but master the art of using spices and seasoning in your cooking and you’re laughing!

While salt and pepper will always be your besties, it’s worth working out which sorts of spices and herbs you actually like as well, as they can completely change how you cook (and eat!).

For example, a touch of chili powder, Cajun pepper or paprika will bring a nice kick to pretty much anything you think needs it, whereas dried oregano and basil are a fav for any Italian pasta dishes (Bolognese friends we’re looking at you).

Look into some nice combo spice shakers at your local supermarket too – garlic salt or even chili, garlic and herb mixes work wonders at turning a boring dish into something super tasty.

2. Stock up on basics

The more you get into your cooking (and we’re expecting you probably will since you’re fending for yourself in the kitchen now!) the more you’ll notice that a lot of recipes use the same base ingredients.

It’s, therefore, a good idea to stock up on these, as it’s a lot easier to throw together meals when you’re feeling lazy if you know you have a majority of the ingredients already in your cupboards. Luckily, we have a full list of student cupboard essentials that will steer you in the right direction!

This might seem like a bit of an expense to shell out on at first, but as these are all store cupboard essentials we’re talking about, they last for years.

3. Learn a fail-proof base sauce

Learn how to make a simple but bangin’ tomato sauce and you’re sorted! Not only are these great for pasta, but you’ll also use a base like this for stuff like Spanish-style stews, casseroles, enchiladas, Bolognese and chili con carne.

4. Have a Main Dish Salad

Main dish salads are the perfect summer supper — cool, light, and quick to fix. Salad greens are the base ingredient and that’s easy: just open a bag of salad greens or spinach leaves and pour into a bowl. Then throw in the rest of the ingredients and toss. Convenient add-ins include reduced-fat cheese or crumbled blue cheese, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, dried cranberries, walnuts, etc.

5. Make It Vegetarian

One way to save time cooking the meat portion of your meal is to skip the meat. Some easy vegetarian entrees include bean and cheese burritos, vegetarian burgers (they take about four minutes to brown in a nonstick frying pan), egg-based entrees like omelets, and vegetarian sandwiches featuring cheese and/or roasted vegetables.

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