Book reviews | 6 non-student cookbooks to take to uni

Book reviews

6 non-student cookbooks to take to uni

Most advice on cooking at uni is directed at freshers but the first few months at university is almost certainly the least likely time you’re going to be in the kitchen. You may well be in hall or a block of student flats that have very few facilities, certainly not for making anything ambitious.

Come the second, third or postgraduate years, however, when the realisation sinks in that if you want to eat healthily you have to cook yourself you may well move to a shared house with some sort of working kitchen. You might even, if you enjoy cooking, have friends round and cook for them.

You might also need inspiration beyond the pages of a student cookbook though I would hope the ones I’ve written - the Beyond Baked Beans series and The Ultimate Student Cookbook (co-authored by three students two of whom, Signe Johansen and James Ramsden, have gone on to write their own books) would still prove a helpful resource.

Although one or two of my selection are recently published don’t feel you have to buy new books for your embryo cookery library. You can often pick up secondhand copies of Jamie Oliver's, Nigella's, and Nigel Slater's books for example in charity shops and second hand bookshops or online from amazon or

I’ve made my choice on the basis of books that don’t include too many expensive cheffy ingredients (hence, perhaps, why they’re all written by women!) One or two may surprise you ...

A Girl Called Jack

Blogger Jack Monroe made her name by devising recipes you coud make on a £10 a week food budget, made from the cheapest supermarket ingredients. If you’re really strapped for cash it’s a brilliant book to base your cooking on. You can see my full review here

Try: Jack’s creamy salmon pasta with a lemon kick - made with a jar of salmon paste (truly)

Best price: £6.49 paperback, £6.02 kindle

PS Jack has a new book coming out this month which sounds great too so check that out if you see it.

Gastrogeek: Rejina Sabur-Cross

A clever book divided up by occasion (e.g. parties), situation (hard up and hungry) or type of guest (vegetarian) with wacky strip cartoons to get over the point. Some good affordable, accessible recipes with lots of original twists

Try: Regina’s pea, parsley and mature cheddar dip

Best price: 0.54 + p & p on Amazon

Riverford Farm Cook Book Guy Watson and Jane Baxter

If you get a veg box delivered or have a street market nearby this is an invaluable handbook on how to use in-season fruit and veg. Lots of basic cooking tips and simple, delicous, mostly veggie recipes from Jane - also author of the excellent Leon Fast Vegetarian.

Try: Jane’s French beans with tomato sauce and fried breadcrumbs

Best price: £12.91 or £6.87 on Kindle.

The Kitchen Orchard, Natalia Conroy

Devoting an expensive (£25) hard back book to the art of fridge foraging might seem seem a touch perverse but former River Café chef Natalia Conroy’s inspiring book, creating delicious recipes from a few scratch ingredients is perfect for the student lifestyle. (OK, your fridge might not be as well stocked as hers but the recipes contain impressively few ingredients.) One of the best of this autumn's crop of cookbooks.

Try: Natalia’s fresh mint ice-cream

Best price: £17. £13.99 on Kindle

The Recipe Wheel, Rosie Ramsden

An ingenious and practical book from food writer Rosie Ramsden (who, as it happens is James's missus) who gives a set of core recipes such as roast chicken, risotto and (mmmm) potato gratin then shows you how to vary them. The recipes are divided into categories like ‘night in’, ‘leftover love’ 'feeding friends' and 'cook to impress'. No pics but some charming illustrations painted by Rosie herself.

Try: Rosie’s spicy sausage and radicchio risotto

Best price: £12.91 on Amazon £6.99 on Kindle.

The Pressure Cooker Cookbook, Catherine Phipps

I have to confess I’m not a pressure cooker fan but I know people, including Catherine obviously, who swear by them and If you’re short of time and space, which most students are, they’re the perfect solution. Your mum may well have an abandoned one in a back cupboard though it's best to give it a road test before you go back to uni. Or you can buy a new one for as little as £30.

Try: Catherine’s Caribbean mutton curry (no reason why pressure cooker recipes should be dull.)

Best price: £12.91

If you're a current or a recently qualified student what non-student cookbooks do/did you find most helpful and/or inspiring?

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