We have decided to compile a list of essential tips for cooking while studying abroad. As an international student, cooking is a great way to save money on top of being a chance to connect meaningfully with others. Although having exotic food adventures and enjoying the local cuisine through shops and restaurants might certainly be fun, it can quickly become unsustainable. Therefore, while we will not give you any specific recipes, we will provide you with a framework of useful general advice for your new culinary campus life!
The worst thing you can do is come to your new location completely unprepared and expect to just pick up this skill as you go. Preparation is the name of the game and part of this preparation has to include hands-on practice. Yes, this means taking the time while you are still at home to learn to make your favourite dishes as well as some which are just plain practical. This means that they have a balanced nutritional profile both in terms of macro (carbs, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Piggybacking off of that point, one of our best tips for cooking while studying abroad is to pay attention to your nutritional needs. It is all well and good to enjoy a delicious meal but now that you are living on your own you will also need to think about your body’s needs for carbs, protein, and fats, as well as the essential vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet will ensure that you are energized and ready to dedicate your time to your studies and leisure time and make the most out of your new life.
Although student life can easily get hectic, especially when one is studying abroad, it is still worth taking the time to plan out your meals. It will save you many headaches in many different ways, from letting you take only occasional shopping trips so you can stockpile necessary ingredients to letting you prep meals in advance, which we will discuss in the next section. Sure, you should always be ready to spontaneously accommodate an unexpected situation, but having some structure to how you approach cooking is always a good idea.
Learning to meal prep is one of the most practical tips for cooking while studying abroad as well as cooking in general. Preparing several meals in advance and eating them over the next couple of days is a perfect way to save yourself both time and energy. With modern conveniences such as freezers and microwaves, this is easier to do than ever! However, some people simply prefer their food to be fresh. If you are one of these and still crave the convenient simplicity that meal prep offers, then perhaps you will find our next tip to be useful.
Unless you are an aspiring Michelin-star chef, you will most likely approach cooking from a practical standpoint. Even if you derive some enjoyment from the activity, spending too much time on it can detract valuable minutes you could have spent studying or going out with friends. For this reason, we recommend that you do all that you can to make cooking as easy as possible for yourself, from implementing the microwave more to learning several one-pot recipes.
No matter how much we like our own cooking, it is easy to become bored of too much of the same thing. Therefore, one of the best tips for cooking when studying abroad is experimenting with different types of seasoning. They can reinvigorate your cooking and infuse life into an old dish that you thought you had grown tired of. What is more, being in a new country can expose you to spices you did not even know existed. Why not excite your taste buds with some fun new flavours when you have the opportunity?
There are a lot more people who find cooking to be fun than there are people who find cleaning up after cooking and washing dishes to be fun. Keeping kitchen clutter to a minimum is an art in and of itself that has the potential to drastically improve your cooking experience. The best advice we can offer is to be smart with what dishes you use and how many are actually necessary for whatever it is you are making. Other than that, the age-old tip that says to wash as you go is a lifesaver for lowering the amount of clean-up you ultimately have to do.
Cooking is only one part of actually preparing the food. A big part of what your meal eventually ends up being has to do with what ingredients you have purchased. Among our tips for cooking while studying abroad, we simply have to include recommending that you always try and get the highest quality ingredients for the least amount of money. More often than not, this involves staying away from big supermarket chains and focusing on smaller shops and local farmer’s markets. Both your wallet and your taste buds will thank you!
A good chef’s knife can be the difference between easily cutting up a bunch of veggies and several years spent in utter frustration. Likewise, a good non-stick pan can make every meal you make a breeze instead of a painstaking battle with oil and scraping. You do not need to spend a fortune on quality cooking equipment, either. Just make sure that you have a decent version of the right tools for whatever it is you are doing and it should be fine. Of course, this requires a bit of pre-emptive research, but that is what students are good at, no?
Finally, as we have mentioned in the introduction, cooking is a great way to connect with others and one of the best tips for cooking while studying abroad is involving your friends and even acquaintances. Potlucks are an incredible opportunity for cultural exchange and bonding based on a shared activity. Teaming up with others and cooking for everyone can make the task easier and ultimately more enjoyable. Of course, it can take some coordination to set everything up. Once you do, however, you will be grateful that you took the time to do it.
We sincerely hope that you have found the tips we presented here to be useful and practical. Cooking is one of the most essential survival skills and learning it is not only useful for your time spent at university but also for later life. Therefore, it is something worth learning. Some of you will even find that you really enjoy it and discover a fun new hobby that you can amaze people with. If you have any other questions about topics relating to studying abroad, take a look at some of our other blog articles or contact us directly.