Students don’t know how to cook

Over 300,000 university students across the UK have said they do not know how to cook beans on toast, according to new research.

The study, from student accommodation providers Liberty Living, has also revealed that over a third of students wouldn’t feel confident boiling an egg. 250,000 students said they couldn’t cook pasta, while over half of those surveyed simply said they preferred frozen food to freshly cooked meals.

So, who’s to blame? Parents? Universities? Students themselves? Unsurprisingly, bad experiences with cooking – when you first leave home and enter the big bad world of student life – can leave an uncomfortable mark, forcing some students to simply feel incapable in the kitchen.

Tanishia Rane, an MA student at Goldsmiths, says this is what happened to her. After being dropped off at university halls by her parents, she says she had little experience in the kitchen. For her, shared kitchens played a major part in avoiding cooking, because “people can watch, which means if you mess up – everyone will know.”

“The first time I decided to cook with a friend, I hid my nerves and acted like I was some kind of professional chef,” she says. “We were making fried rice and when I threw in the chillies and soy sauce, the entire kitchen became a sea of smoke; no one could breathe, everyone was choking on chilli fumes. In the end, my Taiwanese neighbour gave me one of his facemasks so I could stay in the kitchen to clear up my mess.”

Tanishia isn’t alone in her kitchen woes. Data from the study also reveals that just under half of students feel their their available monthly budget doesn’t allow for nice enough ingredients to make a dinner that is worth cooking, while one in five simply aren’t confident preparing fresh foods.

Not all students feel so uncomfortable in the kitchen though.

Zoe Ettinger, also an MA student at Goldsmiths, says being a vegan means she doesn’t have a choice but to cook for herself. “I actually like cooking, but as a vegan it can be really hard to get good tasting food on the go, especially at university,” she says. “If I cook for myself, I can take my food into class with me and I don’t need to worry about the limited vegan options. It makes my life a lot easier.”

The survey also shows that over half of students don’t know how to fry a steak and 20 per cent couldn’t dice an onion). But, data from Liberty Living also shows that just under half of students feel they either don’t have time, or just don’t want to cook for themselves.

Tanishia says she has now learnt that cooking is all about making mistakes.

“You just have to improve… and try to make sure you aren’t putting anyone in danger when doing so!”

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