Every student knows that preparing, and even eating, food can be a challenge throughout college. Most of us have time and money constraints that limit variety and complexity in our food choices.
Meal plans, of course, are great, but for students who live off-campus or want to cut costs, cooking at home can be a good option, giving an easier and healthier way to introduce variety into meals and tailor them to your own, individual tastes.
But, of course, students are infamously busy, and it can be difficult to find the time to shop for groceries, prepare food, sit down for a full meal and then clean up afterward. We all know that it would be good for us, but how to do it?
I’m far from an expert, but I figured out a few ways to cook for myself while being conscious of time and money. The key is to choose ingredients that are filling and versatile. In my experience, all manner of meals can be made if you have a few basic ingredients: milk, eggs, tortillas and chicken breasts.
I’m a big fan of chicken. It’s relatively cheap, filling and easy to prepare. It can be kept in the freezer until you’re ready to prepare it, so you can buy well in advance and there are multitudes of ways to cook it.
I often mix it with condensed mushroom soup and eat it on a tortilla, which allows me to take my food on the go, and if I’m careful, avoid needing to wash additional dishes. I keep it in the fridge for up to a week or, if I’m going to have it for longer, move it to the freezer.
For those who, for whatever reason, want to avoid chicken, my vegetarian roommate tells me that broccoli makes a good substitute in a lot of recipes. Frozen broccoli is just as easy to keep and nearly as versatile.
Squash can also provide a delicious substitute for meat or pasta.
Onions and bell peppers are also good vegetables to have around for your daily servings of vegetables. Bell peppers are good for snacking on raw, and onions and peppers both can be added to a lot of other foods for extra flavoring and a serving of vegetables.
Eggs make for good breakfasts or snacks, and could also be eaten on a tortilla or added to ramen. They are also really cheap. I recently bought 18 eggs for less than $3 at Walmart.
Of course, your tastes may vary from mine, in which case you can substitute my favorites for something comparable. The point is to make what you like. Preparing food in advance can be a great time-saver. And there are many simple recipes readily available online, so even for those who have never cooked, it’s possible.
So, with some preparation, cooking at home can ultimately be a time and money saver, as well as allow you to cater to your own tastes.