Seven ultimate student kitchen essentials

Deciding what to include in your weekly (or termly) food shop is tough for students and parents alike. A fine balance needs to be struck between healthy, easy and cheap. Oh, and a long shelf life is essential for the less organised among us. Luckily help is at hand with Student Places’ guide to student kitchen essentials (and not a pot noodle in sight). 

Find your next student home today


Pasta, rice and wholegrains

These will form the basis of every quick dinner, or post-pub grub fest when refined carbohydrates are a life-or-death matter. So, buy them in bulk. Penne or fusilli are the no-nonsense options, and usually the cheapest. Pair with a carton of passata and some frozen peas and sweetcorn and you’ve got a pretty respectable dish. 

If you’re not au fait with wholegrains, don’t panic. Just buy a few sachets of microwavable freekeh or quinoa and you’ve done your bit, paying lip service to healthy eating. 


UHT milk – in bulk!

Milk isn’t a fun purchase. It’s heavy, it’s cold and it’s boring. It’s probably where the word milquetoast came from. What’s more, milk always runs out at the worst possible time when you’re in the middle of a six-mug round of tea, and is the cause of many a household argument. 

Avoid these stresses by buying your milk in bulk. UHT milk (the stuff in cartons) keeps for ages, doesn’t need refrigeration (until opened) and is available in a whole range of milky types – even vegan-friendly soya and oat. 

Oh, and did we mention it’s cheap? Head for the supermarket-own variety and you’ll be looking to pay around 60p a carton. 


Passata… posh AND cheap

Passata comes in all shapes and sizes, and is basically Dolmio but posher (and cheaper). Team it with beans for chilli, pasta or use it as a base for a curry. Versatile, cheap (did we say cheap already?), and very, very moreish, it’s a staple for any student cupboard. 


Beans! Lots of beans, lots of beans, lots of beans…

Full of fibre and protein, cans of beans are a great cheap staple to have in your student cupboards,and they stack pleasingly too (if you like that kind of thing). Now, we’re not just talking about the baked bean variety here (THINK OF THE SUGAR!). Kidney, butter, pinto, aduki, chickpea… they all make a great basis for chilli, jacket potato fillings, or even a crunchy snack when nuts and crisps allude you. 


Frozen fruit and veg

Now, we’d love to wax lyrical about the benefits of eating fresh fruit and veg wherever possible. Yes, arguably, it’s better for you and it sure does taste better, but for a busy student prone to nights out and weekends away, sometimes fresh isn’t always easiest. 

Anyone who’s ever come home to a bowl of browning bananas and solid satsumas knows the abject feeling of failure that comes from buying fresh. Nip the food waste-guilt in the bud now by making a commitment to buying frozen fruit and veg while you’re a student. Some things, like peas, spinach and berries, are actually better to cook with from frozen. 


Frozen… bread?

Here’s a tip for cash-strapped students: hit up your local supermarket at around 5pm and clear out the discount bread aisle. £2 artisanal piadinas, english muffins, crumpets and bagels will be yours for as little as 30-50p a pop. You don’t have to eat it right away, unless you’ve a hankering for total carb-face, as most bread freezes pretty well. When you’re ready to use it, simply pop it in the microwave to defrost. 


A tub of ice cream

Okay, so ice cream is hardly essential BUT it’ll win you some brownie points on those rainy nights when you and your housemates are stuck indoors watching Netflix. It’s a great way to break the ice (so to speak) in a new house share too. You’re welcome! 


Recap: student kitchen cupboard essentials

  • Pasta, rice and wholegrains.
  • UHT milk.
  • Beans – kidney, butter, pinto, cannellini, aduki, chickpea… the list goes on. 
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables – think spinach, peas, and berries. 
  • Bread. 
  • Ice cream.

For more advice on finding your new student home, get in touch with the Student Places crew today.

Back to news