I am taking a quick break from My Last Meal Posts and going to talk about something that has been on my mind recently….College Cooking. As a Junior in college now, I find it sufficient to say that I have an adequate grip on the whole cooking for yourself while balancing a full class load, part-time job, and an extremely busy life. I admit, I have had my fair share of low points where I was eating top ramen and frozen meals constantly; or going out to dinner more than I should have. Throughout my two years of living in a college apartment I have stumbled upon some useful tips on how to successfully cook in college. At first I thought I was one of the few and far between, the ones “who actually enjoy cooking and baking” However I have discovered more recently that a lot of college aged students are similar to me in that they enjoy cooking yet just don’t have the time or laziness takes over.
First is to never make a one-serving meal. I learned this the hard way. I was prone to just cooking one chicken breast or one serving of veggies. This is absolutely ridiculous. Preparing a chicken dish or any dinner type meal for just one serving is useless. The time it takes you to cut, prepare and cook for one meal is way to time consuming to be efficient in our busy college lives. The solution is to make large batches(large meaning more than one serving) of anything your making. If I am having pasta, I make the entire box, and put the rest in portion sized Tupperware for the rest of the week. If I want baked chicken for dinner on Monday, instead of making one breast I will make two or three to have for lunches throughout the week. Preparing the entire recipe and not cutting in half will save both time and energy for later on. It is better to make more and have leftovers than to make a fresh dinner every night.
Next is making things that taste good and preserve as leftovers. Casseroles, soups, crock-pots, etc are great because they will refrigerate well. Again the idea that you are making things that will last you an entire week. I know it sounds kind of boring, but having one or two main homemade meals for the entire week will provide you with healthy alternatives for those nights you have class until 7 pm, and save you from getting take-out or eating a microwave frozen dinner.
Time management. Knowing your schedule can help you prepare. I personally like making meals on Sundays because that is one of the days I have the most time, and know that I can set aside an hour or two to make a dish that will last me the entire week, or days I know I will need to bring a re-heatable lunch.
Grocery Shopping the smart way. I wrote an entire article on this over at Her Campus Oregon(Link), but basically making a list beforehand and planning what meals you will make for the week will save you big time. If you have a list, you are less tempted to clean out the cookie/snack isle and instead buy items that you know you are going to make into a yummy dinner or lunch.
Lastly, Veggies Veggies Veggies. Buy fresh veggies-just do it. Trust Me.