Student Provisions

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post I really enjoyed reading them. Such mundane domestic tasks may seem unimportant and perhaps we feel a bit silly to have rules and methods for performing them efficiently but I don't think so, consider this; 'the ordinary acts we practise every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest'.*


Tomorrow George leaves home. He's heading to the University of Hull to study Physics and drink beer. This is a Good Thing, he has spent the last year at home doing not very much and is in dire need of occupation and we are all looking forward to this new chapter in his life.

He is spending his first year in semi-catered halls of residence which means he will be provided with an evening meal but will have to find breakfast and lunch himself. This is also a Good Thing because as I said in this post his ability and enthusiasm for cooking is limited.  Although he won't actually need to cook anything I have equipped him with some basic kitchen equipment so that he can make eggs, cook bacon, heat soup and beans, and make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (I don't suppose he will for one minute). I have also packed him a box of provisions to keep him going for a couple of weeks.

Student Provisions for Breakfasts and Lunches

I limited fresh stuff to things he will need immediately. Sandwich fillers such as ham, hummus, eggs,  he can buy himself later. He may even buy himself some fruit and veg**.

A loaf of bread 

A pint of milk
A packet of butter
A block of Cheddar
A carton of longlife orange juice
Small packet of sugar (for tea)
Huge jar of Nutella
Huge tub of peanut butter
A jar of homemade apricot jam
A jar of homemade blackcurrant jam
A bottle of sriracha hot sauce
Salt and pepper
Small bottle of oil
3 tins of baked beans
4 tins of soup - the kind with lots of veg and beans in
2 tins of fruit
2 bottles of beer
A ginormous bag of homemade granola
A homemade fruitcake
A 4lb bag of apples

Equipment for a semi-catered student hall of residence

Most of these were my cast-offs, things marked with an asterisk were bought new.

A small non-stick frying pan*

A medium sized saucepan
A baking tray
Tin-opener/bottle opener* (he has a corkscrew on his Swiss Army knife).
Slotted spoon/serving spoon*
Wooden spatula
Fish slice (turner)
Cook's knife
Pint glass
2 small tumblers
Dinner plate, medium sized plate, side plate, bowl
2 forks, 2 knives, 2 spoons, 2 teaspoons
Set of plastic food boxes*

Miscellaneous items

Large packet of anti-bac wipes (apparently there are cleaners so no need for bottles of Cif etc)

Washing powder

It's very tempting to try to provide everything he might need and to tell him Everything I Know About Life, but I have to remind myself that the boy is now a man and will be able to sort his own stuff out. The work part of being his mother is done, now all I have left to do is worry.

George's Cake

*Attributed to the poet Thomas Moore although I cannot find the source.

** He won't



  1. Remember that time well!
    Fruit cakes are good for sending in the post, I know I used to on a regular basis!
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  2. That fruit cake looks good, lucky boy....a new chapter is exciting, daunting,worrying.....but someday our babies are all big enough to fly off. As Mum's, we can be proud in our achievement of getting them to the point of adulthood with a good set of morals, level headedness and kindness x

  3. I should remember this post as my son will be off in a couple of years and it seems very good advice.
    By the way, your every day fruit cake is the best - no doubt about it!
    I hope both you and George adjust to the change. x

  4. Funny that he's going to Hull. It's my home town and I used to work in the Uni bar there when I was younger and studying. It's one of the busiest in the country. He should have a great time there, the cost of living is very reasonable. You've packed him up a good supply to be getting on with. I look forward to hearing how he gets on.

  5. Anonymous11:44 am BST

    Unfortunately when my daughter went off to university she had to go by train. Nothing kitchen orientated could go with her as she could barely manage the luggage as it was. When she arrived she had to venture out into the town centre on the same day - a bus ride away and try and buy things like saucepans and baking trays so she could eat that night (no meals provided). It was tricky and of course she was hampered by what she could carry. Some things she couldn't buy and she had to order them online. She was unexpectedly ok at managing to cook for herself but at the end was unable to keep any of her things as we had the same problem getting back. The whole thing was a nightmare to be honest. Her luggage was such that she needed to post her text books or get another journey on the train booked, so she posted them. I was taken up with helping her with the luggage she did have as it was so heavy. She actually doesn't have much of anything but once packed up it became very much indeed. It was so far that I couldn't get anyone to drive her/us as it would have involved an overnight stay. I also had to stay behind and make my teary farewells on the platform. Yes I did cry as the train drew out. All the saucepans etc. that she bought were left behind, some recycled at the university or charity shop (a lot of work to take them there at the last minute) some were binned. She liked having her own things and to have to get rid of them was sad for her. Is now living at home having full room service.

    1. That really does sound like a baptism of fire Faye. I imagine you would grow up pretty darn quick having to deal with all that. George is a lucky lad.

  6. If he ever needs 24 shot glasses. I'm your woman. Someone thought they were an essential adjunct to student life and ordered them online. Admittedly they were used more often for chocolate mousse than hard liquor. Good luck to George. His cake will be a very welcome ice breaker and it will double as a door stop if he has a sprung fire door on his room. (That is not meant to be a reflection on your cake density).

  7. Anonymous12:24 pm BST

    is he staying at the halls in Cottingham? I lived there for two years, and cycled into the university buildings every day. It was fun! Hope all goes well for you all.


    1. Yes, he is staying in Cottingham and certainly intends to cycle. I've just passed on your message and he says 'cool' and I say thank you for your good wishes Jess.

  8. Anonymous12:40 pm BST

    good luck to you all....very comprehensive list of food and equipment....would some vitamin tablets be useful or perhaps i worry too much

    1. Will see how he looks at Christmas.

  9. My DD is in Aberdeen and has been there three weeks already. She is settling in well, and says that I have failed as a mother because I have not yet sent any goody bags/parcels ;) One of her friends has received Millionnaire's shortbread in a parcel from home! I remember receiving a fruit cake from my mum when I was in Halls in St Andrews but my DD hates dried fruit so I shall have to think of something else to send! Some of the family are venturing northwards from the Fens to see her at half term, and I am sure I shall find some packages to send her then. Good luck to George and I hope he has a great time x

    1. Did she vote in the referendum Morgan? My dad was telling George that if he'd decided to go to university in Scotland he would have had a vote despite only having been resident there for a couple of weeks.

      I'm sure George would love a parcel of millionaire's shortbread although I think flapjacks are best for posting. I'm glad to hear I won't be alone in sending food parcels, I shall enjoy it!

    2. Unfortunately, despite being born in Scotland, she wasn't resident on the date that mattered to be registered for voting. She says she would have voted for the Union though, so that's OK! I need to make my flapjacks thicker if I am going to post them - they are not yet robust enough. Thanks for popping over xx

  10. Anonymous3:25 pm BST

    My mum and dad used to send me regular food-parcels when I was at Uni, I don't think they thought I'd ever cook for myself, but here we are, quite a few years later and I'm reasonably useful in the kitchen. Maybe it will be after Physics and beer that he discovers the joys of cooking...

  11. Food parcels are so exciting to receive. I remember living and working in St Ives (the one in Cornwall) as a teenager and my mum sending me bits and bobs, as I then in turn, sent packages to my daughter at uni in Canterbury, which was hugely enjoyable. It's when just one is left at home that it feels odd. But as far as I'm concerned, cake can be eaten at all times of the day so your fruit cake will keep George going for a while. The best of luck to him.

  12. My oldest is in her third year at Uni and my middle son has just started. My daughter was in self-catering halls and my son is in catered. From my experience I can say that most of the items which you supply them with for self-catering will inevitably end up lost, broken or taken home by flatmates by mistake, and have to be replaced in the second (and third) year. However, they have had and are having the best ever time and certainly learn to appreciate home cooking. I do send the odd parcel containing chocolate etc, and it always goes down well. Hope George has an amazing time :)
    Cathy x

  13. I remember taking my son from Cornwall to London...he slept most of the time (hung- over), it was many years ago. He's married now and expecting their first child, I really didn't think he would survive...I really didn't think I would either, going back to an empty home...
    Didn't notice any washing products, for clothes?? Maybe not?? All the very best George, and to you

    1. Yes, there's a big box of washing powder for him and miscellaneous toiletries -he's well stocked up on toothpaste, soap and shampoo, I'm leaving the rest to him.

  14. Anonymous6:58 pm BST

    My daughter headed off a couple of weeks ago with all the equipment and a fair bit of food but not nearly so well thought out. As she is completely self catered she had to head to Sainsburys straight away and was shocked by the heaviness of carrying it all home..they live and learn. George will be popular with that cake!

  15. Hey Sue, Our son graduated from that very same uni last year, he also did part catered in his first year then moved out to a house a couple of streets away in years 2 & 3 he survived really well!! Even now we still can't believe he did 3 years,graduated and is now working, time goes so fast
    Good Luck to George, hope he enjoys every minute and makes loads of friends, our son still sees his, firm friendships have been formed
    Enough rambling
    Best Wishes Sue
    Sue xx

    1. Oh that is encouraging Sue, thank you.

    2. Sorry Sue, Have just thought, We got our son (please don't laugh) a meal card(tho' that may have changed now) from the big orange supermarket it's like a gift card, your son has half you keep the other part and put cash on as and when, we used to put a bit on each week when shopping, then they can spend on anything in any branch, i'm sure most places would do similar, it just helps out now and again if they're a bit short on bread,cereal, milk or beer!!! As i say info might be of use to you
      Good Luck
      Sue xx

    3. I will investigate, thanks Sue x

  16. My son is in third year and my daughter is in second year. I've got the worrying part down pat. Don't know why. They're both thriving.

  17. I think this looks like a great checklist for your son. It's very nice that you're helping him with it. I think that with such good support, he's going to do really well.

  18. Our eldest son has just started 6th Form, and I am worrying about that, and the fact he MAY go to University. The worry never stops, not from the moment he was born.

    The peg post ... I have coloured pegs, they just happen to colour co-ordinate themselves to clothes. Apart from that ... I do everything you do!

  19. Hi Sue,
    My daughter went to Hull Uni a couple of years ago and suggests that George might like these places - Spiders (nightclub) /Fruit (cult cinema sundays)/Kardomah 94 /Pave (jazz nights) - good luck. If you ever need any info or help we live just outside Hull.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations Ann.

  20. Best wishes to George as he sets off to this next life stage. Physics always scared me when I was in school and concerned about keeping my grade point average high.

    Decades later, I do wish I knew more about physics. Don't think I'll be signing up for a class anywhere, but do admit to some intense reading of New York Times artlcles and other media featuring physics-related items.

    Housekeeping, cooking, laundry and cleaning is something altogether different. Necessary perhaps, but just not that inspiring.

    Happy weekend to you, Sue. xo

    1. Oh, Frances, get to a university and enroll in a physics course. Do just one subject as a part time student and see how it goes. If that one subject goes well enough then try more subjects. You can study externally, getting the lectures online or in the mail. You can go to the lectures like I do if you have the time. You will find a university that suits your lifestyle somewhere in the world. I understand that students even in their 90s are graduating from universities in various countries around the world. It is easier to understand the material when you are older, but other aspects are harder. Win some, lose some; but mostly win.

  21. Good heavens!! I just put my children into a taxi and waved them goodbye as they went to the airport. One case of clothes. They learned a lot. Fast.

  22. Anonymous2:40 am BST

    Good luck, to both of you. I sent my DS off to college 5 years ago with basic stuff, and added more over the years. He was on the meal plan the first year with no real kitchen to cook in anyway. For all the moaning, it's a wonder he survived, but survive he did. Had a kitchen in his second year dorm suite, not used much. Apartments since. Went to visit him recently. It looks like he barely uses the kitchen, and I suspect most of the appliances I sent to him aren't out of the boxes. What is it that makes some people embrace cooking and others loathe it? I did cook with him when he was growing up. At least he likes to make cookies. Hoping for a wife who loves to cook. Actually, any wife. Even a girlfriend. Must stop worrying and let him live his life....

  23. The two bottles of beer made me smile. I'm wishing him all the very best, it's so exciting, many happy adventures await I think. These will be good years. I'm sending you a hug as well, the worrying bit will never end will it. I went to see the secondary school a couple of days ago. So big and scary! Everything moves along at top speed doesn't it. CJ xx

  24. What an exciting stage of life to be in - I'm sure he'll be fine! That cake looks divine - bet he'll be popular with that :)

  25. Good luck George - may the power of the Fruit Cake be with you.

    And good luck Sue - I think that the best thing to do is imagine them eating a wholesome diet packed with fruit, vegetables and organic fibre and ignore all evidence that this might not be the case.

  26. I went off to college by train back In the day when few suitcases had wheels - can't believe how heavy they were and how exhausting to lug around. Wheels ( on suitcases or cars ) are definitely the way to travel!
    Cake in the post! How reminiscent of all of those school stories where chocolate or fruit cake arrived to the delight of the whole dorm.
    Good luck to George.....hope he enjoys his course. Good job prospects!

  27. I am now fondly remembering how I went off to Uni with all my parent's cast off plates and bowls, and how, instead of wanting new things, I felt comforted by those everyday reminders of home. Good luck to George. My mum tells me the worrying about one's children never really stops. :-) x


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