College is the time of freedom and exploration, of new and exciting experiences and relationships.
It’s also the time when you realize that mom’s cooking is just so much better than the dining hall. Too bad you didn’t take her up on that offer to live in your dorm room with you.
But heading home every weekend isn’t your only choice for delicious, home cooked meals. Whether you’re in a dorm room or a tiny apartment, you can still make yourself fresh, healthy meals that can actually take less time than heading to the cafeteria. It will also save you a lot of money. Here are our tips for cooking in college.
- The microwave can make more than Hotpockets. Or Ramen: Step away from the frozen food aisle. Those meals may seem like the easy way out, but they are typically loaded with unhealthy preservatives and fattening ingredients. They also don’t necessarily save you any time or money. Buying fresh produce and ingredients is typically cheaper and so much healthier. You can use the microwave to make steamed veggies, oatmeal, potatoes, even eggs and salmon. Find a few recipes on Greatist.
- Pasta sauce can be used for more than pasta - Get innovative with your ingredients: Add a little cream to your pasta sauce to make soup. Try eating pasta topped with salad dressing and fresh veggies. Use canned tuna and corn tortillas to make enchiladas. You’re a creative college student – you can make anything work (within reason, obviously). Try one of our recipes.
- Invest in an “adult” kitchen appliance: One or two well-made appliances can go a long way, so it’s worth it to spend a little extra cash for them. Make smoothies or protein shakes with a blender and have a fast breakfast every morning. Toss all of your ingredients into a crock pot and have a delicious meal when you come back home in the evening. Use your toaster oven to make Paninis. Plus, these fancy appliances will makes you seem more like an adult, which you’ve been trying to prove to your parents since high school.
- Reuse, recycle: We’re talking about leftovers. If you’re getting recipes from home, it can be difficult to scale those down for a one person meal. Use the leftovers for lunch the next day, or freeze them to use at a later date when you don’t feel like cooking. If you’re really having a hard time getting rid of the leftovers, you’ll find that your fellow college students can rarely say no to free food.
- Make a few friends: Find a friend or a roommate who is willing to share the duties of cleaning and cooking with you, and take turns cooking for each other. Plan out the meals ahead of time to split the grocery bill. Just be sure you can count on that friend to deliver – if you’re making a four course Italian meal every other night and they're making frozen pizza, you may want to refer them to steps 1 through 4.