Cooking in College 101: Tips
Naturally, eating is essential; we have to do it to function and stay alive. However, going from having your parents cook for you to living on campus with the convenience of a dining hall to finally having to cook on your own in an apartment can be a scary, scary thought. Learning to cook on your own can be stressful. “Will what I cook taste okay?” Or, “How cheap can I eat and still be healthy?” are just two of an endless stream of questions that may come to mind when you’re trying to start cooking for yourself.
Good news! It is all possible and can be easier and more fun than students may realize. For the first few years I have been one of those people who always talked myself out of cooking. However, finally as a senior, I have began to develop a love for it. It saves money, inspires creativity, can be a relaxing activity to get your mind off school work, and lets you make what YOU want. The idea of this entry is to share ideas, tips, and recipes I have found that are easy, inexpensive, taste great, and make cooking in college much more enjoyable. I’m not claiming to be an awesome cook and still have a lot to learn myself, but I do have some tips and tricks I’ve picked up and would recommend trying when you begin cooking.
The first step is to use Pinterest. Pinterest is one of the greatest resources for cooking because it has thousands of recipes. From a gourmet meal fit for the Queen herself to 100 meal ideas that cost under $5 to make, Pinterest has it all when it comes to food. Using Pinterest to discover easy and quick meals has been one of the best things I have found for guidance in cooking. Not only can I cook foods I love like asparagus or chicken, but I can find recipes that use as few ingredients as possible, only takes 20 minutes to prepare, and actually tastes good!
I personally recommend planning out perspective meals in advance and then shopping for them. One of the biggest reasons I hated cooking until recently was because I never seemed to have anything to cook. Well, I have learned that if you plan in advance all the ingredients you need are already there and waiting to be cooked. This saves time, and we all know time in college is very valuable. The best thing to do when planning out your meals is to take inventory and find out what you have and what you need for your meals that week. Then go to the store and buy exactly what you need.
It is usually a good strategy to buy what you need for just the next week or two, not stocking up for an entire semester at once. Things do expire, and you most likely live with others, so be sure you have room to store what you buy and have a foreseeable purpose in mind for everything. I am not saying you cannot buy your favorite late night snacks or have a stash of canned soups for days when you don’t feel like cooking anything, but be mindful when you are shopping for what you need versus what you just want. Buying groceries on a tight budget can be especially tough. That’s why if you have planned out your meals, it is easy to avoid buying a bunch of random food items that don’t really go together and then end up sitting on your shelves or in your frig because you’re not sure what to do with them.