Leaving home for university is daunting for many reasons, but having to learn to cook for yourself needn’t be one of them.
These cookbooks make great companions at that time in our lives when we really start to get to grips with cooking. From making speedy, affordable suppers, to whipping up group meals for new friends, these are full of nutritious, imaginative and achievable recipes, and are as good for young foodies as they are for the most intimidated beginners.
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Best student cookbooks to buy
Take One Tin by Lola Milne
Best for storecupboard meals
Tinned ingredients are the ultimate in convenience, with long shelf lives and affordable price tags. They don’t take up room in the fridge, either, and are happy to hang out in kitchen cupboards until their services are called upon. It’s no wonder they’re popular with students.
This book, by cookery writer Lola Milne, will show you how to transform these humble storecupboard ingredients into imaginative breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. Among its 80 recipes is everything from Vietnamese crab cakes, to coconut and lime upside-down cake and classic tomato soup.
Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith
Best for classic recipes
With clear, easy-to-follow instructions and recipes for comforting classics that we often miss from home – think fish pie, roast potatoes and bread & butter pudding – this book is as relevant and well-loved now as when it was first published more than 30 years ago.
Covering all the basics for new home cooks, it’s a reference guide to return to again and again, long after those student years are over.
East by Meera Sodha
Best for big veggie flavours
Packed full of colourful vegetarian and vegan dishes inspired by regions throughout Asia, this eye-opening book will inject some meat-free fun into any student kitchen.
From impressive-looking aubergine katsu curry, to fast and frugal spring onion and ginger noodles, the spectrum of dishes is huge, and makes cutting down on meat – and therefore shopping budgets – exciting.
How to Dice an Onion by Anne Sheasby
Best for practical kitchen advice
Less of a recipe collection and more of a kitchen handbook, this is a great cookery companion for beginners, but even those already au fait with kitchen techniques will learn a thing or two.
From lessons on how to prepare veg and make stock, to advice on storing ingredients and organising kitchen cupboards, there’s a wealth of knowledge in this book to get that student kitchen set up.
Mob Kitchen by Ben Lebus
Best for budget-friendly recipes
The first book from online recipe platform Mob Kitchen is all about easy, budget-friendly recipes that really deliver when it comes to flavour, making it a great pick for food-loving students.
All the recipes included feed four people for under a tenner, meaning there’s plenty to share with housemates or keep for lunch the next day.
Original Flava by Craig and Shaun McAnuff
Best for global flavours
Comforting Caribbean food is the name of the game here, with young authors Craig and Shaun making sure the recipes stay true to their values of ease, accessibility and tastiness.
The likes of honey roasted jerk-spiced salmon and banana fritter cheesecake will gently nudge young cooks out of their comfort zones to experience new flavours. This is food to make friends over.
Perfect Plates in Five Ingredients by John Whaite
Best for few ingredients
You don’t need a comprehensively stocked fridge to make satisfying meals – something most students will be pleased to hear. John Whaite proves this to be true with this collection of simple but smart recipes.
Dishes range from breakfasts to speedy suppers and sharing plates, and all are made with just five ingredients. Often proving to be more than the sum of their parts, they’re ideal for serving to friends.
Vegan Eats by Rachel Ama
Best for plant-based cooking
The brilliantly creative Rachel Ama is a bright new talent in the vegan cooking scene. Vegan Eats includes everything from snacks to one-pan breakfasts.
One must-try recipe is her game-changing smoked carrot & chive tofu bagels that successfully recreate the flavours of a classic smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood
Best for baking
Baking is a sure-fire way to turn new housemates into best friends, and this book ensures everyone can enjoy a slice, with its focus on natural ingredients.
Harry has created thoughtful, indulgent new incarnations of beloved bakes – think Victoria sponge and chocolate brownies – and come up with some novel treats, too. The common thread comes in her ingenious uses of vegetables, which result in natural, irresistible bakes that are full of the good stuff.
Solo by Signe Johansen
Best for cooking for one
Motivation can be lacking when it comes to pulling together a whole meal just for one – it’s easy to see why beans on toast is a staple in many student houses.
This book, though, injects some serious satisfaction into cooking for yourself, with straightforward and delicious dishes designed to be enjoyed solo. There are also recipes here for batch cooking – a great practice for student to get into.
The World Food Café by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott
Best for intrepid students
Student years are often when we rack up the most mileage on our travels, taking gap years or making the most of those generous summer breaks. This book is certainly one for the travellers, whether to reminisce about trips already taken, or help inspire future adventures.
The vegetarian recipes here come from all over the globe – including the Middle East, Africa and Latin America – and are accompanied by stories and insights into the food cultures of these fascinating regions.
Available from Amazon (£3.20)