Seven essential ingredients your uni kitchen needs

Sophia Lamberton 21 December 2021
Ingredients and saucepans

We’re all guilty of going to the shops and buying food we can’t make a meal out of. Here’s our list of seven essential ingredients for every uni kitchen.


This student staple is versatile and can be paired with all sorts of store cupboard ingredients. You could be adventurous and make a fancy pasta dish from scratch or keep things simple by just chucking in a jar of your favourite pasta sauce.

Pasta is super cheap, meaning you should be able to afford it no matter what your uni budget is. There are loads of types of pasta out there to match your dietary requirements, from wholewheat pasta to lentil fusilli.

The best thing about pasta is that you can make multiple portions at a time, put some in a container and reheat it the next day.


If there’s one ingredient that your kitchen needs, it’s rice. 

Like pasta, rice is cheap and you don’t just have to stick to long grain or basmati; there are quite a few types of rice you can cook with depending on your budget, such as wild rice. Unlike pasta though, there are a few safety guidelines to follow if you plan on saving your rice dishes to reheat on another day.

Instant noodles

Instant noodles are a lifesaver. They’re so handy to have in your kitchen cupboard because they only take a couple of minutes to cook, making them great for when you’re in a rush. You can use them in a main meal, like a stir fry or a Thai curry, or have them as a quick snack.

Instant noodles usually come with a flavour sachet, but if you don’t want to use it straight away, you can leave it out. I usually keep the sachet and add it to rice to flavour it while it boils.

Be sure to stock up on these when you go to the supermarket.


Beans are a student essential, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore. There’s a huge variety of beans out there and you make your meals more exciting by using more than one type in the same dish. My personal favourite has to be the three bean chilli, as you can use any type of beans you have hiding away in your cupboard.

Supermarkets usually have special offers if you buy several tins at once, so I normally buy tinned beans. They’re also already cooked, unlike dried beans. Frozen beans are useful for one pot dishes, because you can simply add a handful to bulk out your soup, curry or stew if you don’t have many ingredients.

If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the world food aisle in your supermarket, or visit a specialist food store - you’re bound to find beans you’ve never tried before.


You can buy lentils dried, tinned, or in a packet from your local supermarket or food store. These little gems are packed with protein, making them an excellent vegan or vegetarian option. If you’re looking for lentils you can make quickly, red lentils are the best, taking 15 to 20 minutes to cook.

I prefer using dried lentils so that I can sprinkle a handful into a stew or curry to thicken it, but tinned and packaged lentils are great for cooking multiple portions.

dry ingredients in mason jars

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned chopped tomatoes can add a lot of flavour to a dish, and they taste much richer than if you’d just added tomatoes you’d chopped yourself from the supermarket. If you’re looking for even more depth of flavour, chuck in some tomato puree too. 

If you’re looking for some inspo, here are some easy recipes you can try that use chopped tomatoes.

Frozen peas

Frozen peas are a great way to hit your five-a-day. You can have them as a side, or add a handful to some cooked rice. They’re super easy to cook, too: just throw a portion into a steamer or some boiling water and they’ll be ready in a few minutes. Buying frozen peas also helps you to save on food waste, because you only use the amount you need.

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Sophia Lamberton 21 December 2021