For many people their first experience of living away from home comes when they go to university, but for most freshers the task of cooking a decent meal can be a little daunting: it’s much easier to get a pizza delivered or to stop off at a late night kebab van after an evening’s culture.

Don’t worry cooking can be really easy if you follow my few simple rules, so for the purposes of this scenario, I am going to imagine that you have at least one decent knife and a couple of pans.

1. Invest In A Kitchen Timer

You don’t need to spend more than a few Euro, make sure you get a magnetic one so you can stick it to your fridge or oven.

From steaks to slow cooked casseroles, every single dish is better and easier if you know exactly how long it has been cooked for.

2. Make Sure The Oven Is Actually Hot Before You Use It

Those 10 minutes that your pizza requires are 10 minutes in an oven that’s actually hot, lighting the gas and counting ten minutes from that moment is a great way to get food poisoning!

Allow at least 10 minutes, maybe even 15, before you even think about putting your food in the oven.

3. Make Your Own Stock (If You Can)

Chicken is the easiest, buy some chicken wings – a kilo or so – roast them in a 200 degree oven for 40 minutes and allow them to cool. Strip the flesh from the bones and put some to the side for use in sandwiches, soups and curries.

With the remaining bones, skin and connective tissue make your stock by adding a litre of water, chucking in an onion cut into quarters, some peeled garlic, salt and pepper and put it on to simmer on a low heat, the longer you leave it, the better it gets. I know it sounds tough but you’ve got this lads.

4. Don’t Believe The Cook Books

When they say five minutes, they mean 15. Ten minutes means 20. You can’t make a risotto in 20 minutes. I have made hundreds and it usually takes me about an hour and ten minutes.

Frying onions for five minutes will not leave them translucent and golden, in fact it will have barely any effect at all. 20 minutes on the other hand…

5. Everything Tastes Better With Wine

There are those who say that you should never cook with a wine that you would not actually drink, that is true of red wines, but from my own personal experience, I can tell you that no matter how cheap and nasty a white wine may be, after a couple of hours’ cooking, it will taste better.

Everything is better with wine so pass me the bottle!