Waitrose's 'Essential Student Food'

Supermarket giant Waitrose have just released their 'Essential Student Food' range in preparation for all those under graduates trekking off to University this month. However, don't expect to see baked beans, Pot Noodles or meals-for-one among the 'essentials'. The posh supermarket have replaced them with cyder vinegar and harissa paste!

What the hell is going on? When I went off to 'Uni', admittedly it was 40 years ago now, my trunk was full of tins of spaghetti, coco pops and jars of coffee and today's students aren't much different, I guess. I've looked in the kitchen cupboard of my niece who is at Kent University and she boasts packs of noodles, chilli sauce, and Nandos peri peri sauce in abundance. So you'd be much less likely to see a jar of harissa and a bottle of organic soya sauce, yet Waitrose is marketing both as part of the their 'starter kit for the new student cook about to fly the nest'. What world are their marketing executives living in?

As well as the harissa paste at £4.35 and the soya sauce at £3.15, their 'student store cupboard' contains Marigold Swiss Vegetable Boullion Powder at £2, Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar for £1.70 and Organic Italian Seasoning for £1.89. A page from the Waitrose magazine was posted on Twitter this week with a range of uses for these 'everyday items' and student Andrew Stronach wrote, 'The Waitrose concept of essential cooking staples for new students!?! ' I have none of them in my cupboard, not one.' Meanwhile loads of caring parents tweeted lists of student essentials that bore a close resemblance to my own experience from 40 years ago - beans, beans, beans and more baked beans. One mother wrote, 'I'm not sure any of my lot would recognise harissa if it punched them in the face!'

So what has Waitrose to say for itself? A spokesperson is quoted in the press as saying, 'All these ingredients go a long way and can be the basis of many simple, tasty and great value home-cooked meals.' It sound to me like a quote form Gordon Ramsay, so maybe he is packing his kids off to University this week with the 'Waitrose Essential Student Pack'.


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