For me, eating at uni provides an age-old dilemma. How can I cook all those lovely home cooked meals my Mum did at home, for a price that isn’t going to break the bank? Being a bit of a foodie, I budget quite a bit for food every week and that would be first savvy saying – budget a certain amount for food each week. For me that means about £30 – £40 a week for food to have at home, and then I pick up lunch on the go sometimes or eat out at Gassy Jacks (my fave local pub in Cathays). It sounds like a lot, but I get a lot for my money by shopping whenever possible in places like Lidl (in Cathays), Tesco Extra out by Talybont or in my first year when I lived at Uni Halls it was the big Sainsburys on Colchester Avenue. Shopping at bigger stores means that there are a lot more deals on food products and a greater range of Tesco value products – watch the ££££s tick up VERY slowly at the checkout!
I eat out a fair amount and have been to a quite few places both expensive and not. Having lived in Cardiff last summer with my best friend instead of going home we stepped up and got ourselves full-time bar jobs and believe me those 14 hour night shifts make you quite protective over your pennies and pounds. The one blessing of a job? STAFF DISCOUNT! * hands together praying* “amen sister” is what I’m hearing my friends say! If you’re going to get a job – go to somewhere where your staff discount goes towards cocktails and food. Not only will your friends love you but it becomes a staple place to get some good food and its pretty social too as you know the people who work there.
If you don’t have a job, my absolute number one top tip – just before christmas, make friends with someone who works in Vodka Revs or Revolucion de Cuba. Why I hear you ask? After every Christmas, as a thank you for all our blood, sweat and tears over the holiday season everyone gets five ‘Friends and Family’ cards to give away. These entitle the bearer to 50% off all food and drink Sunday – Thursday for all of January and February. This is a godsend because a) you become the VIP at Revs socials and b) tapas and burritos are just so darn tasty!
If you’ve failed at this all important quest and are still dying to get away from the kitchen my only other words of wisdom are that as a student it’s not really worth buying discount cards that get you deals in loads of places unless it’s a really good one. There are so many vouchers and deals on the internet that you don’t have to pay full price in many chain restaurants. Check apps like KGB deals, Wowcher, 02 priority moments and just the restaurants website. And if all else fails, Gassy Jacks. It’s a must. 2-4-1 food on Sunday and just 2-4-1 on desserts all the time. I personally recommend the sweet chilli chicken flat bread. Its delicious! I even took my parents and considering we ended up having to go to dinner at a hotel the night before, they were very happy with the price and the food!
Although it’s nice to eat out and escape the effort (and the washing up), sometimes all you want is a nice homecooked meal, when you’ve had a full day of lectures (I’m joking, that never happens in the CPLAN department) and trudged around all day in the rain (I’m not joking, that happens everyday). My ultimate comfort food is my homemade curry. Not just any old homemade curry but one particular recipe, that is guaranteed to bring my out of any grumpy mood and let me bask in a food coma for a good few hours. It’s not necessarily the cheapest meal to make initially because of the spices but you can use those again and again. If you fancy giving it a go .. (you should!)
☆ 1 onion
☆ 1 tsp of cumin seeds
☆ However many chicken breasts you want (normally four so you can freeze it later!) cut into cubes
☆ 3 diced chillies (normally a mixture of red and green but more of whatever colour if you want it hotter or milder – also beware of seeds!)
☆ 1 inch cube of Fresh Ginger grated in
☆ 1 tbsp of Garam Masala
☆ 1 tbsp of Hot Paprika (more if you like a hot curry)
☆ 1 tbsp of Paprika
☆ 2 diced peppers (one red and one yellow)
Add each thing, one at a time in that order, letting it cook at each stage (it won’t look very appetising at this point) and let it cook for half an hour. Cook some rice in the meantime. When the curry is ready, add a whole 500g tub of greek yogurt and stir it in with a little bit of tomato puree to make a really nice thick sauce. Don’t add the greek yoghurt too early or carry on cooking it because the greek yoghurt will separate.
Ta da, my favourite curry ever. You can make it as hot or mild as you like and it has a really thick lush (there’s the little Welshie inside me making an appearance) sauce.
That’s all the food knowledge I have, so use it well and use it wisely. Oh wait, watch Julie and Julia – it’s my favourite cooking film. “Bon appetit!”