Food or Sustenance?

I can’t cook to save my life. That was the greatest certainty I had, while stumbling confusedly from the stage in life called ‘moving out’. I’d never really needed to cook for myself (except on duke of ed over a dodgy portable oil stove) and whenever I tried, it either took FOREVER, or my mum would casually take over half way in an attempt to save the disaster. I mean I knew the general concept, its not rocket science, more chemistry 😛 … But, the fact remains that when I first arrived in halls I was completely clueless about food. What to buy from the supermarket? How long do things keep? What things go well together? Is bread thats slightly green on the sides still edible? In halls the rule is basically if its not rotting, give it a shot and if you’re not willing, ask around and someone else will be.

Nowadays, I avoid talking about what I eat to anyone remotely adult (usually other peoples parents and family friends) because it tends to raise eyebrows and prompt worried questions about my sanity. Mainly, its due to the completely utilitarian outlook on the idea of food. I’ve really come to enjoy cooking, but its really more of a necessity than a hobby. As a computing student i’ll present the logic thus.

Food Logic


I bought a blender in 3 weeks into Autumn term and its basically the best thing ever. The running joke in my hall is that I don’t eat anything that isn’t blended… not true, but I do blend stuff a lot. I have a constant supply of soy milk, bananas and frozen fruit for that purpose. Its a bit of downer at the moment, because I’ve got a cold so cold drinks all the time isn’t really that appealing, but most other times its delicious and healthy. Heres a montage of the smoothies I make.

those flavours … mmm

When I’m feeling particular disciplined I blend my breakfast smoothie the night before and shove it in the fridge, because I’ll never wake up in time to make anything in the morning. The smoothie with oats, is a personal breakfast fave because its kinda like cereal in a bottle 🙂 Smoothies for lunch, are quick and stress free, and then for dinner well I try not to smoothie again because … I require solids.

In terms of actual cooking, I quickly got over my initial phobia of raw meat, because well vegetables don’t keep as long, whereas meat you can freeze = less shopping. Most days I just chop up some meat stick it in a pan, salt and pepper and its ready to eat. I basically cut carbs from my diet week 5 of autumn term after the crash diet I did for a taekwondo competition and since then I’ve never really gotten my taste back for rice, pasta, bread etc. Plus most of my floor is still kinda on the ‘healthy eating vibe’ so it just seems normal. I probably have rice noodles maybe once a week, more often recently because hot soup noodle be good for the soul and hacking cough… I only recently got into cooking chicken, because it takes quite a bit longer than beef, and I need the beef for its iron content, but I guess I got bored of a diet of 4 days salmon 10 days beef. Its all pretty cheap if you look at it. I get 4 salmon fillets per shop for £6 and basically eat that 4 days in a row because it doesn’t keep. I freeze about 6 – 7 thin steaks which I get for £4.50 total and thats all the meat for the fortnight.

Then theres eggs, the saviour of all. Poached eggs, soft boiled eggs, hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelettes. I can do them all. Poached eggs are the easiest, and very tasty so I do them a lot. Scrambled eggs have the illusion of being more filling because it takes more than 2 bites to demolish (1 gulp per poached eggs :P) and it can be interesting to scramble in other things. So far i’ve tried beans, haloumi, salmon and quorn. When I was on a stricter diet, I just ate 3 eggs for dinner or 2 + meat. But nowadays my eggs usage has slowed to a pack of 12 per fortnight.

Here are some very un-instagram worthy food pics.

salmon w/ scrambled eggs
Poached yolk goodness


I basically gave up on vegetables quite early on, apart from cucumbers I ended up throwing away more vegetables than I ate since it all went bad too fast. I either had to top up every 3 days or only ate vegetables 3 days a fortnight. Its not even like I don’t like vegetables, its just I don’t seem to have any good ways to manage it in my diet. I like to think I make up for it with my excessive fruit consumption. If theres anything my shopping partner has pointed out, its that every shop most of my basket is fruit, and my fridge is basically a fruit store. This week I bought, nectarines, grapes, peaches, a honeydew melon, watermelon 4 mangos and 10 bananas (would’ve been 15 if I was making more smoothies). If I didn’t get the watermelon as a treat, I’d have gotten apples as usual. And these are the fresh fruits, I also buy frozen mangoes, blueberries and strawberries for my smoothies. Its just so easy to pop into the fridge, grab a nectarine, apple, or peach to go. Need a refreshing post meal dessert? Grab a handful of grapes. I also have to have fruit after dinner – its a slight obsession since its basically a thing my family’s done since life on earth began.

Much has changed in my dietary habits since I first got here and had pasta for every meal. The remnants of that trend is festering in the 2 kgs of pasta I have on my untouched top shelf. In my halls, we tend to go through fads as well, everyone is suddenly into ice cream, or quorn, or cheese. And while i’m not immune to that, having so much control over what I eat, means I really should start paying a bit more attention. I’ve realised there are a lot of foods I ‘would rather not eat’ as opposed to dislike. Meaning, if you put it on a plate in front me, i’ll eat it, but if I saw it in a supermarket, I wouldn’t buy it. The only constant I have is the fruit obsession, otherwise 3 meals a day is a lost cause since I see every meal as either optional or conditional on environmental factors. I basically forget to eat a lot of the time, because cooking takes time.

However, the fun of cooking is not lost when time permits. I often cook with my hall mates and when i’m involved it usually involves sharing something culturally relevant. I got my hands on some prawn noodle paste and decided to put together my inner malaysian and make some with a friend.

this was one of the best meals ever
we also made a lovely curry

All in all, for the most part, food as a student is a bit of chore, we accept its necessary in order to keep functioning, but would rather it not be. But from time to time, the cooking experience becomes more social, and its really quite fun to share a meal with people, cook together and discuss ‘the best way to cut up potatoes’. I was definitely overly concerned about the amount of working cooking for myself would be before coming to uni. And at first I seemed to spend all my time cooking. But once you get into a routine with it, (or lack thereof in my case) it just fades away into the background. I recommend following the logic I provided above 🙂 the gist if which is – if (hungry) {eat} 🙂

2 comments for “Food or Sustenance?

  1. Hello Amanda,

    My name is Abrar, I’m from Saudi Arabia. And I’m planning to study at Imperial next year. However, I have some concerns and questions. So, If you have time for me, I would like to ask you about the life and study at Imperial.

    I hope to hear from you. 🙂


    1. Hi Abrar 🙂

      If you have any questions shoot away, I’d be happy to answer them for you. You can post them in a comment here and I’ll get an email notif, or if you’d prefer you can send me an email at and i’ll reply in private. Although, any questions you have, I’m sure someone else has too, so a comment might be more helpful for others 🙂

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