We caught up with Instagram sensation and author of basically our favourite new cookbook, The Savvy Cook - Izy Hossack! She's a Leeds Uni student and has over 220,000 Instagram followers. We wanted to pick her brains about all things blogging, food and of course, we talk pizza. Check out our Q&A below and watch out for a giveaway very soon. You can order Izy's book on Amazon.
UNiDAYS: “What prompted you to start blogging?”
My mum is the one who actually showed me that food blogs existed! She had Googled a recipe for coconut macaroons for us to make and I was amazed that you could just find recipes online for free. After that I started reading a bunch of food blogs, mainly baking-based ones, and it inspired me to start baking more creatively. I would always scribble my recipes on a piece of paper or in a notebook somewhere and lose track of them. I decided to start my blog mainly as a way to document and sort my recipes.
UNiDAYS: “What advice do you have for people who want to start their own food blogs?”
Start out on a free platform first, like Wordpress.com, to see if you like it! After a year or so you can then move to a custom domain name and paid host - I would recommend Squarespace for this because it’s relatively inexpensive and very easy to design your blog on there.
Also make all your social media accounts right at the start too - Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Another thing, which may sound obvious, is read and comment on other food blogger’s content whether that’s a blog post, Instagram pic or tweet!
UNiDAYS: "Who are some of your favourite foodie Instagrammers?"
UNiDAYS: “How important is planning meals?”
For me, I’ve found meal planning to be pretty crucial at university! I only plan what I’m having for dinner but I’ve found that it helps me stick to a budget because I can make a list of what I need and stick to it when I go food shopping. It also cuts down on time spent aimlessly standing in the kitchen wondering what to make.
I’m pretty relaxed about the days I make things on though, I usually just make a list of 5 recipes I want to make and choose whichever one I feel in the mood for when the day comes. Also if I meal plan on a Sunday, I can also do a little food prep then (e.g. roasting some sweet potatoes, cooking some pasta) to cut down on prep time later in the week. After you have a few solid recipes that you know you like, meal planning becomes a lot less hassle too as you can just reuse the same 10-20 recipes, cycling them and using different ingredients each time so you don’t get bored!
UNiDAYS: “Great tips! How do you manage your social media profiles, authoring two books and your studies?”
Not gonna lie, it’s pretty time-consuming! I’m doing Food Science & Nutrition at uni as well so I do have to go into lectures or labs on most days. Nowadays for social media I schedule it in advance, it’s a much more efficient way to do things really and means I have one less thing to think about during the week.
As for the recipe development, I cook every day for myself and I do like to try to make new things all the time (unless it’s exam season in which case pasta pesto is FINE). I’ve also simplified my photography so that it takes less time to do and clear up, plus I don’t have that many props at uni with me.
With the cookbook The Savvy Cook, which I was writing at uni, it was mainly based on my meal plans that I’d been making throughout the year! I then spent the summer months photographing and writing it all so it wasn’t too bad, really.
UNiDAYS: “What do you eat on a typical day?”
Most mornings I have full-fat plain yoghurt with muesli and some fresh fruit, some wholegrain toast with nut butter and jam or my oat muffin from my book. If I know I’ll be stuck in a lecture until lunch/post-lunch I’ll bring some fruit with me to uni.
Home is just a 20-minute walk from the campus so on most days I have time to go back and cook some lunch. In which case it’s probably some leftover grain from dinner the night before with quick-cooking veg like frozen broccoli, frozen peas, grated courgette that I saute with garlic and olive oil and some fresh or dried herbs. If I’m stuck at uni, I’ll usually make a grain salad (again, using leftover stuff from dinner) with some leaves and a nice dressing to take in.
Dinner varies wildly but I’m a big fan of frittatas as I can cook a 6-egg one and fill it with whatever veg I have hanging around in the fridge. I’ll have half for dinner with some bread and save the rest for breakfast, lunch or dinner the next day!
UNiDAYS: “How much do you spend on your food shop a week?”
It varies of course but I typically spend £20-25 a week. I’ve managed to cut costs by bulk buying grains, stock, herbs, spices and dried beans at the start of the year. I also get a lot of my fresh produce from Kirkgate market (a covered market where you can buy fresh veg and fruit) in Leeds which helps cut down costs massively. As I don’t buy meat or fish at uni for environmental reasons, it means I can eat pretty cheaply as those kinds of foods are the ones which bring up a food bill a lot. I also like to make my own bread so I basically just spend money on buying flour which is super cheap and yeast, which I only use about 1/4 tsp of each time I make a loaf so it stretches those packets of yeast far!
UNiDAYS: “Where is your favourite place to eat out?”
In Leeds my current favourite is Pizza Fella! They do amazing pizza with a thin base and puffy crust.
UNiDAYS: “Do you have a favourite go-to meal when you only have 15 minutes to cook?”
Grated courgette, squeeze out the water in a sieve set over the sink. Saute in a pan with some garlic salt and black pepper, scramble in an egg and grate on some parmesan cheese then wrap it all up in a wholemeal tortilla. Done!
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