I Can’t Cook: A Guide to Student Cookbooks

Aurora Andrus reads up on the recipes in student cookbooks.

Every day of our lives, we are moving closer to the realities of adulthood. It sometimes feels like there is no clear deadline signalling the moment we will cross from kind-of-adult into I-guess-I-am-now-an-adult adult. Suddenly it may become clear that it’s time you finally learned how to cook.

While eating out is endlessly tempting, it may not prove to be the better option if your priorities are your budget, and good nutrition. Cooking at home is the solution, although this can be daunting for those inexperienced with a hob or tiled surfaces. Cookbooks line bookshop shelves promoting fast, easy, and cheap recipes, and their selling point is their suitability for the vulnerable student, who is stereotypically too disorganised and distracted to focus on cooking.

“Yep, that’s right. It’s time you finally learned to cook.”

However, the following cookbooks aimed at the experienced, adult chef can be complicated – recipes are often costly featuring obscure ingredients and methods requiring a chunk of time. Student cookbooks are specifically aimed at students and designed with them in mind, but are the recipes suitable to our hectic lifestyles?

The Hungry Student cookbooks by Charlotte Pike offer three options for the novice chef. The three different books include a regular cookbook, a vegetarian cookbook, and an easy baking cookbook. Dinner recipes include curries, lasagnes, soups, and banoffee pie, and there are also lunches, snacks, and desserts. The recipes are laid out in a clear and logical way making them easier to follow. They pay particular attention to cooking on a tight budget by ensuring ingredients can be locally sourced.

The Student Eats: Fast, Cheap Healthy cookbook by Rachel Phipps advertises itself as ‘the best tried-and-tested recipes for students.’ The recipes in this cookbook are a bit more adventurous and mature with recipes like pearl barley, pomegranate, and pistachio salad. Pomegranates and pistachios are not cheap, which initially may turn a budget-conscious cook away. However, the book provides hacks for more expensive recipes, like buying a pomegranate and deseeding it yourself. The cookbook follows this structure throughout with more upscale recipes, alongside tips and tricks on how to achieve them on a budget.

“While eating out is endlessly tempting, it may not prove to be the better option if your priorities are your budget and good nutrition”

The UCD library holds a decent collection of student cookbooks that can be found on the top floor. Unbeknownst to some, UCD publishes its own cookbook, mostly aimed at Freshers and international students but helpful for everyone, providing information on nutrition, cooking equipment, food safety, budgeting, and a diverse recipe catalogue.

Assignments and exams take up a lot of our time, but it is also important that we fuel our bodies to get through our busy schedules. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced cook, the student cookbooks out there can help you figure out how to cook healthy foods and expand your palate without breaking the bank.