So, you've told your housemates about how great your cooking is and they've challenged you to prove it. Or maybe you've got a potential romantic interest round, and you need to impress them. Worry not – we've got five simple, cheap tips that will make you look like a fully fledged chef.
Presentation Seriously, don't skimp on this. Take a look at some cooking programs, or have a browse of pinterest boards devoted to fancy foods for some ideas. Even a student staple like pasta can become a work of art in the right hands! Some quick and easy ways to improve a dish like pasta into looking restaurant worthy include:
- Sprinkle fresh herbs on the top (growing these yourself is great for saving money
- Dye the pasta with food colouring for rainbow pasta!
- Grate cheese on the food to your guests requirements
Timing Three course meals always feel fancier than a single dish, and they're not that much more expensive – especially if your starter is something like garlic bread! The trick to making it feel impressive is the timing. No-one wants to wait too long between dishes, but no-one wants to feel rushed either. If you can perfect the art of preparing your meals at appropriate times (we reckon 15 minutes between starter and main, and then judge on your guests for main and dessert) you'll score a ton of bonus points.
Do It From Scratch Let's face it, spaghetti bolognaise and meatballs isn't all that exciting, right? Wrong. Sure, if you just buy the sauce and heat it up it's easy, but if you can make it all from scratch (bar the spaghetti, that's probably a bit beyond most people!), it's suddenly much more amazing. The ingredients for a basic tomato sauce and meatballs are pretty cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk, and they're something that can be used in multiple dishes, so this one is well worth a go.
Unusual Ingredients Take a step beyond the usual student fare – whilst unusual ingredients can be expensive, there are lots of cheap ways to get hold of them. Wait til the supermarkets are closing, and then check out their reduced section – you'll find lots of stuff going out of date that day for much, much cheaper than it would be. You can also try local farmers markets or even grow your own – for instance, did you know you can grow mini purple carrots? They're sure to make it look like you know what you're doing.
Take a Risk Try something new – maybe an ingredient you haven't used before, or a cooking technique. It can be risky, but if it works you'll be known for your chef-like abilities. Of course, there's the chance it'll go wrong – but you'll almost certainly still get props for trying.
The only thing to be cautious about with these tips? They might like your food so much you get asked to do it again!
Useful Links 5 tips for great meals on a postgrad budget
Keeping your postgrad fridge in tip-top shape
Canteen cuisine - what food can you expect at a UK university?
15 postgraduate tips for frugal student living