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Student Essentials – GF and DF

Students sometimes opt to cut out meat altogether to make meals cheaper – my brother recently told me he did this!

Today Waitrose hit the headlines for a rather different reason – no, it wasn’t a big shiny Christmas ad it was a page from their magazine which shared ‘5 Student Store Cupboard Essentials’.

If you haven’t seen the article (read it here), it shared 5 ingredients, which it said would ‘set your tastebuds alive’ and would create you a bunch of eclectic and delicious meals. On the list was Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar priced at £1.70, Organic Italian Seasoning at £1.89 and Harissa Paste priced at £4.35 for a 170g jar1!

I went on BBC Radio London today to discuss it (you can listen back here, in at 1610) and I was very honest with my views – this list is ridiculous!! I had absolutely no idea what harissa paste was when I was at university. I lived off stir fry, fried egg and bacon and toast and beans. I have absolutely no shame in that, but there are so many factors at play when you start university. Unless you are already into cooking, lets be honest, you probably won’t be using your time to find out what to do with harissa paste!

It took me back to 8 years ago when I was a fresher myself and got me thinking about student staples I would recommend now, with cooking knowledge and how the free-from market has changed! So, I have complied my recommendations for 9 essentials for the gluten and dairy free student.

1. Garlic

Okay, I know this is probably obvious 101 but I had no idea the ability of a garlic clove at university and because it is SO versatile, and can be used in basically anything, I’ve popped it number 1. Pasta, stir fry, chicken, fish, turkey, spinach – literally add garlic and you are away. If you’re LOW FODMAP you could go for garlic oil. Costs about 80p for 2 bulbs in many supermarkets.

2. Salt and pepper

Again basic – but also, life changing. A good old season of salt and pepper really makes a difference. Especially a good quality sea salt, if the budget can stretch to it.

3. Chilli flakes and paprika

As I said on the radio, add paprika and you can get a taste upgrade on so many meals. Meats, fish, veg alike – even an aubergine with paprika baked in the oven would be delicious. A life saver, along with some chilli flakes. Cost about 90p each for a supermarket own brand (which is the same as any brand!)

The best chicken sticky recipe which is based on soya sauce and rice! Both cheap ingredients, plus the chicken can be cheaper if bought frozen (see more below!)

4.Gluten free soya sauce

Okay so perhaps I am hypocritical here because the Waitrose article did say gluten free soya sauce, but that was for nationwide application. Obviously when you’re gluten free, you have little choice in the matter! Soya sauce is incredibly useful for making bland rice and noodles interesting and so therefore, it should be on the list. Clearspring is £3.15, however Meridian comes in cheaper and so does Kikkoman. So shop around for the best price!

5. Basmati rice

Rice is hard to get right but it’s cheap. Basmati rice is not that much more expensive and essentially cooks quicker and easier. I always use basmati now – and again, not too expensive.

6. Frozen peas and sweet corn

Frozen peas and sweetcorn can go in ANYTHING! Pastas stir fries, a side for your meat or fish – and frozen is cheaper and goes a long way. You’re looking at £1-£2.

7. Chopped tomatoes

Again the base of pastas, pasta bakes, curries etc etc! Cheap and easy to store and lasts for ages.

8. Chickpeas

A cheap and filling alternative to meat and easy can make a quick curry with your chopped tomatoes, garlic, chilli, paprika, frozen peas and rice. Looking at 55p for these!

If you do fancy fish, I recommend going for frozen. Roasted veg is also filling and goes a long way!

9. Frozen chicken breasts or fish

If you do go for fish or meat, I am saying frozen because it lasts longer and is generally cheaper. You can get large packs of frozen chicken breasts or fish for under £5 in some supermarkets and is just generally a more cost effective way to consume these products.

All hail pasta!! I’ve used quorn in this spag Bol, which is actually cheaper than beef and incredibly filling.

10. Gluten free Pasta

I am putting this at the bottom because it is expensive, but I have mentioned pasta a lot above as a key staple! Unfortunately, gluten free pasta is just more expensive but all the major supermarkets have their own GF pastas now, which are generally cheaper. Sainsburys, Tescos and Morrisons are all good ones to look out for.

I’d love to know what your student essentials were or are?


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