By Kamini Manick

 Cooking. One of the many responsibilities thrust upon students as a result of venturing out into the big, wide world. After 18 years of home- cooked meals, it’s no wonder that students feel thrown in at the deep end when it comes to doing it for themselves. You have so much to think about when it comes to preparing good food.  Never mind that that essay due in at 9am the next morning, you’ve got to consider how tasty and how healthy your meal will be, think about how much it costs and how long it will take to prepare and figure out where you are going to get the ingredients from. It can be a difficult job trying to take everything into consideration, and so it’s no surprise that many resort to the infamous staple diet of baked beans, super-noodles and pasta.

Everyone knows that it is important to eat well, however, a lack of time and money seem to prevent this from happening.  With some help from Oxford's Slow Food Student society, we can show you how you can eat quality food on the cheap with minimal preparation time.

The first thing to consider is ingredients.  Buying locally sourced food means you get fresher produce that varies with the seasons, and you can massage your eco-conscience with the knowledge that it diminishes your carbon footprint. It’s also quite fun exploring the variety of local food on offer in Oxford.  In many places you will be able to get expert advice from the seller and it will often be cheaper than the equivalent in the supermarket. Slow Food recommends the Covered Market as one of the best places for your food shopping. For those all-important fruits and vegetables, try Bonners’ the greengrocers, while Fellers the butchers will provide you with value for money meat as well as expert advice. For those of you that find it easier to venture down to the Cowley Road area, try paying a visit to Uhuru Wholefoods for a greater variety of more unusual ingredients, especially vegan and veggie stuff, at rock bottom prices. If you’re around the city centre on the first or third Thursday of each month, then pop over to Gloucester Green. There you will find the Farmers Market boasting quality, local produce.

Once you have your ingredients, try following some of the quick and easy recipes posted by students on the website such as ‘Ted’s Bolognese’ or Brian Melican’s ‘Chilli Cauliflower’. They really do have simple stuff up there that anyone can do.  Take the recipe for sweet squash.  You just put a butternut squash in the oven at 200?C until it is brown on the outside.  Take it out, peel and mash it, add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and one of grated ginger and ta daa! You’ve got a delicious dish.   Cooking for one can be a bit lonely though, so try persuading your housemates or neighbours in college to join in.  The more people there are, the less the cost per head will be and, naturally, those that don’t help you cook will have to do the washing up.

Look at to find out more about how to cook a healthy meal, without breaking the bank, and discover a great variety of tastes and ingredients that anyone can cook! 

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