Sunday, 11 December 2016

Nosh for Students - Review

As I mentioned in my post about life at university, the Student Nosh books have been such a lifeline for learning to cook for myself. At home I used to make myself lunch, or perhaps the odd fried egg, but that was the extent of my cooking repertoire. Since coming to university however, I have cooked using more or less only the Student Nosh books and have managed so many different meals, from toad in the hole, to spaghetti bolognese to my personal favourite, chicken cacciatore. I thought I would write a review of these books so you can decide whether or not they would be something you might find useful, regardless of whether or not you're at university.
Yes, I did regret putting chilli flakes on my bed.

At the front of all of the books there's a guide to buying food, planning meals, reheating, storing and other basic things like this. It's really helpful, especially if you've never lived alone and have never come across information like how often you should clean the fridge (aka me).

All three books contain many different recipes, each of which comes with a cost estimate, how many
people it will feed, the difficulty of the recipe, how long it will take to cook, and whether or not it is or can be made vegetarian. I find the cost calculation particularly useful, although they do have to be taken with a pinch of salt- food prices will vary between supermarkets- they are a great guide to knowing which meals are likely to be cheaper or more expensive. Similarly with the cooking times, they make it a little easier to plan which meals I'm going to have depending on how much time I'll have to cook them.

Chicken Cacciatore with cous cous
The recipes are separated into sections like 'Broke but Hungry', 'Make Your Own Takeaways' and 'Something for the Weekend'. with recipes that relate to the title in each section. In terms of the recipes themselves, I prefer the ones in the second book- I think they're a little more interesting in general than the first book. Saying that, volume one does have a lot of really basic meals like spaghetti bolognese and sausage and mash, which obviously are staples for student life. The recipes are really easy to follow and are generally reliable in terms of timings so everything is ready at the same time.

As well as volumes 1 and two of the original student nosh books, I also have the vegetarian version. I think this would be really good if you were a vegetarian (I'm not) as again it has a lot of very basic recipes. I do find all of the things at the beginning of the book about shopping and storage etc a little repetitive, but I don't mind too much. The main reason I wanted to get this book was due to cost. Meat is very expensive, and as a student money is something I have to keep an eye on. I've never really been one to try vegetarian meals that much, but it's something I'm looking into a bit more. I'd say that in comparison to the costs of meals containing meat in the first two books the vegetarian nosh book is significantly cheaper. I'm trying to cook vegetarian at least one or two times a week, and this book definitely has enough options for that. It also has a really good selection of soups to make, which I enjoy making.

There are only a couple of things about the books that I'm not too keen about. The first is the portions. As a student most of the time I'm only cooking for myself, and there are actually only one or two recipes in all three books put together that actually makes enough for only one person- most are portioned for two three or four people. This means that you have to do some calculations to scale the amounts down, which can be a bit annoying. The second thing is a little more difficult to explain. I know these books were written for students, but some of the recipes seem a little too student-y, like a collection of random things fried together. I kind of feel like they could have left some of these out, and focused on more cheap and easy substantial meals.

Criticism aside, I really enjoy cooking with these books. I'd definitely recommend getting at least one if you're learning to cook even if you're not going to university. I'm honestly surprised at the amount of different things I've managed to cook whilst I've been here, and it's all down to having these books!

E x



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