Is University Still Worth It?

University Students Let Us Inside Their Kitchens

And tell us about how terribly they eat.

by Yasmin Jeffery
22 August 2016, 12:00am

University students are infamously shit at feeding themselves. A 2014 study found that 30 percent of undergrads don't know how to boil an egg, and half couldn't rustle up a simple spaghetti bolognese.

Unfortunately, eating well is kind of a pre-requisite for living, which means the ability to cook is important. As filmmaker Robert Rodriguez once said: "I've got a lot of friends who don't know how to cook, which I could never understand because not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to fuck."

With this in mind, I traipsed across a handful of student halls to see what student cupboards and fridges look like.


VICE: How often do you cook?
Arjun: I'd say I cook around four meals a week.

What do you do for the rest of them?
It's either, like, frozen food or take-out, or just something stupid, like noodles.

So how often do you do a big shop?
Like once every two weeks or something. I'm usually stoned when I shop, which is why I end up buying unhealthy things that attract me at the time but that you wouldn't be able to create a dish with. They're always really random and disconnected.

What's the worst thing you've eaten while at uni?
Ketchup and bread. It was toasted, but there was no butter.

What should every student know about cooking, shopping and food before going to uni?
Occasionally eat greens. You don't realise the importance of them until you end up getting sick because you haven't consumed anything healthy for a while.

Do you eat greens?
No, but I realise they're important.


How often do you cook?
Fifi: Every day. Roast chicken if we have it, but pasta most of the time, or things like rice.

Do you ever have friends over for dinner parties and stuff?
No, never. If I have dinner with my friends I'll usually go over to their houses.

What's the worst thing you've ever eaten at uni?
Cheesy chips, I think. I had some which were really disgusting, but that's like a classic university food example.

What's the most expensive thing in your cupboard at the moment?
Probably some olive oil that I got from Greece, or some of our spices. My mum picks up spices from different places she travels because she goes overseas for work a lot, so it's probably something like that. We've got some really nice saffron at the moment, for example.


How often do you shop for food?
Anisha: Oh my god, me and Chloe shop for food together because we share literally everything, and we only end up shopping once every, like, three months.

That sounds weird.
Anisha: Literally, and it only comes to around £90 at most. It's because we never have fresh food, though; absolutely everything is frozen. We'll get bread, milk and eggs – that's our snack food. The rest of the time we're either buying meals or defrosting shit.

What's the worst thing you've eaten while at uni?
Anisha: I once had chicken nuggets on top of Nutella on toast because I wanted the texture of the chicken nuggets, but the taste of chocolate. I was off my tits.
Chloe: We had round tortillas once. I ripped one in half, shoved both halves in the toaster, got butter, melted it and put garlic powder on. I thought it was the best thing ever.

Why don't you just eat, like, food?
Chloe: To be fair, we have like two tonnes of at least something healthy – pasta – but no sauce to cook it with. It just sits there in the cupboard because we don't know what to do with it because we just end up buying takeaway food because we can't be arsed.

What are your thoughts on two-minute noodles?
Anisha: Life. Life! The good ones give you diarrhoea but it's so worth it.

What should every prospective student know about cooking, food and shopping?
Chloe: Do everything together, because it will cost less and you'll be able to learn to cook together as well. We have a Mary Berry book that Anisha got me for my birthday. We've crossed the name out, because this is when Beyoncé's "Becky with the good hair" thing happened, and we decided [Becky] was Mary Berry, so we crossed out Mary Berry and put Becky with the good hair.

Were you high when that happened too?
Chloe: 100 percent, yes.


How often do you cook?
Adam: Every night when I'm indoors I make food for myself.

What sort of stuff do you cook?
Leaves. Chicken and leaves, meat and leaves, steak and leaves. I like leaves; they're filling and they're good for you. I have the occasional pizza – and I love a fajita. I live in Brixton, so I like to cook a lot of jerk chicken as well.

What are your thoughts on Pot Noodles?
I ate a lot of them when I was at uni the first time, but now I've learnt. Also, the first time I was at uni I worked at Wetherspoons, so I used to get tonnes of cheap, free food. It was really quite bad, but it was cheap.

What do you wish you could afford to buy?


VICE: Are you much of a cook?
Holly: I love cooking, but I don't cook much because it's sad cooking for one person, and also I can't portion properly.

Do you buy much food then?
Not really. I'm probably in the shop every day, but just to get that day's food. I can't remember the last time I went into a supermarket and spent more than £7.

Where do you do most of your shopping?
Sainsbury's. I mostly buy salad-y things, or whatever's reduced, really. I'm quite a sucker for pastry things like quiche and tarts, but also crisps.

What's the worst thing you've eaten at uni?
Probably just like sheer quantities of things. In the first year at university I discovered lime-flavoured Doritos. I would sit and eat a family-sized bag of them. Sometimes, if I have a bit of money, I'll go and get cockles as well. I love smothering them with vinegar and eating them. I've consumed a lot of cockles in my time.

That is pretty disgusting. What's the most expensive thing in your cupboard and, or fridge?
Probably the whole-nut peanut butter that I've got, because it doesn't have palm oil in it. I read somewhere that palm oil is really super bad for orangutans, and I don't want to take their home away – they're too precious.

What do you wish you could afford?
Full-fat Philadelphia on fresh baked bread from the bakery, every single day. I just can't justify it, though.

More on VICE:

How Treating Students As Customers Turns the Idea of Meritocracy into a Joke

If You're Working Class, University Can Still Change Your Life

Debt, Depression and Dud Degrees: Why Would Anyone Go To University?

student food
student fridges
bad diets