How to get the most out of your student kitchen

Hannah Kaner 7 November 2013

Fast, cheap and tasty. The three necessities of Cambridge cooked food. But something seems to get in the way of these: the college kitchen. The student hob, if used incorrectly, won’t boil a pan of water for two hours (or thereabouts). However, all is not lost. Take a peak at these sneaky tips to get the most out of your kitchen.   

1: Heat the pan, man Be it pasta, tortellini, soup or those onions you are DEFINITELY NOT FRYING BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT YOUR PAN CONFISCATED (depending on college), get the pan warm first. Turn your hob’s heat to medium and put the empty pan on top. Meanwhile, boil the kettle, chop your onions, or drink a cup of tea. Your pan will take a while to heat up, and you don’t want to wait forever for the onions to soak up oil or for the pasta to get squishy as your water stopped boiling as soon as it hit the metal.

2: Put a lid on it. This isn’t just in reference to smelly fridge food (though your neighbours will be less likely to murder you in your sleep if you keep your brie and fish in Tupperware).

Sounds like an obvious thing, but not only will your stuff heat up faster with a proper lid but it will keep in the steam that sets off those sneaky fire alarms. It also helps with this neat sweet potato trick (sweet potatoes are a great and v. cheap source of protein and vitamins):

Peel and dice potato. Fry on all sides till brown and softening. Pour in half a cup of water and put lid on QUICKLY. Leave lid on until the water’s gone and the potatoes are soft all the way through. Fry a little longer for chip-like consistency. Takes ten minutes, add spice/salt/vinager to taste. Have with salad, rice, pesto, worms… whatever tickles your tastebuds.

3: Out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t want it used, put it away. After an all-nighter, students are most definitely not close to human beings. They’re more like amoebas, or zombies. Be glad they’re not eating your brain, but they may eat the first food they see. Tag it, bag it if you don’t want it to mysteriously disappear.

OR 4: Divide and Conquer. On the other hand, if you’re the sharing sort like me, find a buddy to form a kitchen alliance. It splits your bills in half if you’re also splitting milk, bread, jam, butter, fruit and vegetables. One can cook and the others washes, and it’s good for bonding; a kitchen alliance will help with efficiency in all of the above tricks.