The Friday Five – Alternative Student Cookbooks

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After yesterday’s A level results there’ll be a whole heap of students heading off to cook for themselves. There are of course a whole heap of student cookbooks on the market (213 came up on Amazon) which means there could be a whole heap of duplication of cookbooks on any one floor.

So these five are my choices for great, straightforward approaches to every kind of cooking occasion, that aren’t getting fancy, that are about good simple food, but just a little bit different to what every other student might roll up with! Plus these will last them well beyond graduation.

* Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater– this is the first cookbook I bought myself, and on the basis of it being the only cookbook that offers recipes for both bacon sandwiches and smartie sandwiches, I think it’s perfect student fodder! Quick, easy and tasty, and not expensive, this is a classic book and they will refer back to it often.

* How to Eat by Nigella Lawson – I was reflecting earlier this week that this is the muckiest of my cookbooks, as I use it so often. It gives them a good guide to the basics, some good ideas for whether they’re cooking just for themselves, or mucking in for a whole crowd. There are so many good recipes in here, from things like apple crumble for when they crave some comforting home style food through to Cambodian hot and sour beef salad for more exotic days when there’s a bit of steak on the reduced counter.

* Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible: The One And Only Book For Every Cook– I love this book, and it’s one of those that I dip in and out of regularly. Again, easy to understand chapters cover simple skills like making flapjacks, pancakes and a Victoria sponge (I know we’re talking student budgets, but there are days when only cake will do) through to frugal food (plenty of cous cous, polenta and other grains) and foolproof favourites. It also leaves scope for future development covering things like Christmas and more serious skills. If I only had two books, this and the Nigella would be my desert island choices.

*Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours – if they’ve not done a lot of cooking at home then I would say this was a good starting point, and also it’s a good book for cooking with your mates. Or learning to cook together with them. This will be decent grub, crowd pleasing dishes that pretty much anyone should be able to turn out and make taste good. Written in Jamie’s own inimitable style, I would think this is pretty popular amongst the student crowd already!

* Delia’s Frugal Food – I had a really hard time choosing between this one, and One is Fun. The latter has some great recipes that I am still scaling up years later, and saw me through many a flatshare. The problem is it’s just a sad title, makes you sound like a bit of a billy no mates. Frugal Food is great at giving  ideas on how to shop effectively, what joints of meat would help stretch your budget and how to be creative with leftovers. Which sounds perfect for students, and most of us post the austerity budget!

So, this is not to say don’t buy them a student cookbook but just think about offering some variety across their floor in their accommodation! Given that Nosh 4 Students is the best selling student cookbook on Amazon, I bet there’ll be a few of those being packed off in boxes from homes around the country!

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Helen Tarver

Collector of great gifts and fabulous food, mum, cake baker & eater, wine opener. I write about food and the gift of it in its many forms.

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