Tips for cooking in a Uni/shared kitchen

Over my years of uni kitchen cooking I have continuously struggled with the entire experience. The surfaces are always dirty, you can never find the right equipment and there is always way too many people in the kitchen at once. Here is a few tips to help you stay level headed in a chaotic environment!

Plan your cooking time

If I’m cooking something a little more time consuming like a lentil dal or risotto, I like to cook it during the day at an odd time when no one else is in the kitchen. I can spread myself out and dominate the room for an hour and make as much mess and use as much cooking equipment as I possibly can with little complaint. This means when I go to eat at a regular dinner time and there’s multiple people crowding up the room, I can just heat up my pre-prepared food! Also, I would have been able to wash everything up and clean the surfaces beforehand! I can enjoy my food coma in peace without being nagged to clean up all my stuff.

Make sure you wash everything up on time

When you live with 6 people who are all cooking for themselves throughout the day, it doesn’t take long for the kitchen to become absolutely crammed with dirty dishes. This creates such a nasty environment to live in and really puts anyone off from entering the room and cooking in there. If you live with messy people, it’s a good idea to set the example of doing your washing up early and keeping a tidy space. This encourages people to follow suit and removes at least one lot of washing up from the kitchen sides.

Hide any special things you don’t want anyone to use

I can become particularly attached to certain items of kitchen equipment and easily irritated if they are left used and unwashed. A microplane is my favourite item of kitchen equipment ever. It is so versatile and grating garlic and ginger has become a daily activity for me, so I want it to be in perfect condition. As soon as I started storing it at the back of my cupboard, preventing anyone using it to grate cheese on their bolognese, I never had any issues with locating it ever again. All had been restored to natural order once again.

Keep the kitchen cupboards well organised

A lot of equipment can be accumulated in a shared kitchen of 6 and it can become overwhelming when rooting through a cupboard to locate a saucepan among multiple cheese graters and colanders. If you’ve made the decision to share culinary equipment with your housemates (like we did), it is important to get a good system together. Stack the plates and bowls together in the same cupboard. Group together all saucepans and frying pans in a way that feels natural. When you need a cheese grater you want to be confident that you’ll find it before your pasta gets cold! Most importantly – make your system make sense! We all know that a kitchen knife doesn’t belong anywhere near a baking tray.

Be easy going

It is nearly impossible to completely change someone to having the same clean mindset as you and the best you can do is just go along with it. If you are forced to live in a messy kitchen, you don’t want to fill it with animosity. There’s nothing worse than having to co-exist in such a small space with someone who you’ve had consistent arguments and issues with. Uni students are not the cleanest of people and that is something you have to get used to!