11th September 2022 | General

My cooking hacks, tips and recipes at university

As the summer ends, for many it’s time for a new chapter to start at a brand new educational setting in a completely different environment - university!

Moving to a new location and leaving your familiar home can be a daunting experience. But this move is an opportunity to explore new sceneries, people and to develop new skills. One of the skills that almost every new student develops is cooking.

Cooking for yourself sounds like a hassle, worrisome and just plain scary! But once you start, you will realise it’s not as bad as you thought…or maybe not! So don’t fret. In this blog, I will share my tips and cooking hacks that will get you started at university, as well as two of my recipes that are easy, simple and affordable to make. Let’s get started!

When you are a student living in the city, it is very tempting to order takeout or to go out and eat when you are busy but you will soon observe that your money is ‘skinned’ dry, especially if this is on a regular basis. As a student, you will learn that budgeting your spendings is the way forward. One easy way to save money is to buy your food in bulk for the week. That way, you can make your favourite dishes and still have some leftovers for you to take for lunch and/or dinner. To save even more money, try to go for the cheaper meats, poultry, vegetable,and dairy options. Sometimes, more expensive does not equal better quality. But that is also entirely up to you.

Furthermore, it is very tempting to buy hundreds of snacks but the key to this is asking yourself - “what does my body need right now?”. When you are craving snacks, try to avert your gaze to processed or junk food as they only provide short term energy and are generally high in sodium and saturated fats. Alternatively, go and pick some fruits such as apples, bananas, clementines and plums as they are naturally sweet and are more filling. It is also best to keep them in the fridge to slow down their maturing process.

Similarly, it is also easier to buy ready made meals and they are useful to have if you know you are in a rush or will not have the time to cook. In this case, it is best to freeze them as they can last months and save some cash and time. However, ready made meals are also costly and are also a temporary solution so be mindful of this. But otherwise, I suggest to plan ahead based off your university timetable and personal schedules as much as you can during your weekends as you may not have the luxury to do so during the busy weekdays ahead.

Overall, eating healthily as university students can be easily forgotten when your mind is focused on your careers, family, and personal matters. But this determentally will affect your working habits and deteriorate your overall health and well-being. However, this can be developed overtime and starting early has been proven to improve work life balance for many individuals, provide some therapeutic breaks from work, and overall build confidence in personal skills, including my own.

So, as my gift to you, I have shared two recipes that have helped me get started in cooking at university down below. Feel free to vary it according to your taste preferences and the key to this is - don’t be scared to try something and explore the variety of cuisines! And with that, I hope you learnt something from this blog. I hope to all the first year students the best of luck in a new chapter and to make the most of the good and bad experiences.

Maraming Salamat!

Simple ‘Filikid’ pasta recipe

For those rainy, lazy days! The good thing about this dish is you can mix and match and make it in bulk so you can save some for your lunch the following day. Hope you like it.


  • Pre-filling pasta/tortellini (fillings of your choice)
  • 300g of pasta sauce of your choice
  • 300ml of water
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Fresh/dried Parsley (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Boil water in a saucepan. Separate pasta into smaller chunks.
  2. Add the pasta to water, stir gently and close the lid.
  3. Cook pasta for 3 minutes. (Taste pasta to check). Turn the stove off.
  4. Drain pasta but keep approximately 3 teaspoons of pasta water.
  5. Add roughly 250-300g of pasta sauce to pasta. Gently mix evenly.
  6. Optional garnishings: add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, tablespoon of sesame seeds and parsley. Add cheese as a topping.
  7. Enjoy!

Cook in a bag Chilli Chicken recipe

This recipe will make cooking chicken like a piece of cake whilst still maintaining moisture on the inside. It does take a little longer to cook but the wait makes it all worth it. There are also a variety of flavours to choose from but I am using this one as an example.

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  • 2-3 pieces of chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • 2 cups of jasmine/basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • Tablespoon of garlic granules
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium carrot
  • (Optional) 100g steamed stem broccoli


  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan) or Gas Mark 4. Prepare the chicken according to the cooking instructions found on the back of the pack.
  2. For side dishes: wash rice and cook the rice with equal parts water (1:1) in a pan for 20 minutes on medium/low heat. Alternatively, cook rice in a rice cooker.
  3. Wash and cut the carrots in circular, small, bite-sized pieces. Wash and trim the stems of the broccoli.
  4. Boil carrots and stem broccoli in saucepan for 15 mins fork tender.
  5. Drain the vegetables and lightly season with salt and pepper. Leave in pan and put to one side.
  6. In a frying pan, cook the egg sunny side up.
  7. Plate the rice, chicken, vegetables and egg and serve. Enjoy!