Now that it’s been three weeks, most students have settled into their living situations on and around campus. For some people, this means transitioning to cooking your own food in your own apartment. It’s no doubt a big, sometimes difficult change from living on dining hall cuisine, but you’ll find out that it’s worth it. However, if you’re still struggling to cook for yourself a few weeks into the school year, you’ve come to the right place.
Now that you live in an apartment, this no longer refers to figuring out the best time to swipe into the dining halls. Rather, meal planning is an effective way to prepare your food that allows you to know exactly what to put on your shopping list each week. Essentially, you plan out what to eat and when so that you can purchase the right amount of groceries and not be stuck eating ramen noodles every night.
When planning your meals, consider your schedule: When you have work, when you’ll want to eat out and when you have time to cook. This will allow you to plan meals that work with your schedule. For example, maybe you’ll grab a coffee and muffin on your way to class in the morning, but for lunch you’ll pack a sandwich and some snacks. Then, when you go home for dinner, you’ll cook some pasta or reheat leftovers.
Meal preparation is basically the second stage of meal planning. Meal prep entails preparing ingredients for a dish (or the dish itself) so that you can save time later.
For some people, this means preparing one large dish and eating it throughout the week. Anything that’s stored in the fridge and tastes good when reheated will work for this.
At other times, meal prepping can mean measuring spices, chopping up vegetables or setting out the cookware to use for when you actually cook your meal at a later time. Preparing ingredients in a dish earlier in the day when you have free time allows you to get right to cooking it when you’re hungry around dinner time.
Keep it simple when you’re cooking to reduce time and stress. Easy dishes are also delicious.
For example, though tacos seem like they have a lot of ingredients, they’re not difficult to put together. If you buy a taco kit with shells and taco seasoning, all you have to do is cook the meat according to package directions, warm the shells in the oven and prepare whatever toppings you’d like.
Other simple meals are spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese and tomato soup, or omelets and toast.
Sometimes, you’re going to be too busy or won’t want to cook what you had planned. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep some staple foods in your kitchen. You might want to have some bread, peanut butter and jelly on hand to whip up a quick lunch. Or maybe keep some eggs in your fridge so that you can easily scramble, boil or fry them any time of day. Other things you might want to keep in the cupboard include rice, cereal, pasta, cans of soup, canned vegetables, some spices and snacks (obviously).
If all else fails, you can search Tasty.com for dorm food recipes that can be made in a mug. Or there’s always good old ramen.
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.