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Fake Adulting: Learning to Cook for Yourself in College

Picture this: Two years into college, you are living in a single in dorm housing and you are getting sick of the same unhealthy campus food. You also want to start healthier eating habits your day to day life.


So what do you do?


This semester, that was me.


So before coming back to school, I found this cool appliance at Target (shown below) and decided I was going to experiment with cooking for myself this semester.




Over the first month of school, I’ve attempted making three different meals, none of which had real recipes.


My first attempt simply involved making pasta. I mostly wanted to get a feel for how the device works before I did anything really interesting and experimental. This was probably the easiest meal I made since the pasta box came with instructions of how long to boil it. But through the process of boiling the pasta, I learned how fast the hot pot boils water, how simple it is to drain water from it, and how easy it is to clean. Also, because this was during the first week of school, I didn’t have anything interesting to cook with the pasta or put on it, so I thought it was going to be a boring plain pasta meal. But my friend gave me an avocado, seasoning salt, and nutritional yeast to add to my dish. At first, I was hesitant about the suggestion to add avocado, but after trying it, it was actually a yummy and healthy substitute for a creamy pasta add-on.


(PC: personal)


My second cooking attempt involved a little more experimentation. I had high hopes for my hot pot after my successful pasta meal, but I don’t think I fully understood the capabilities of a hot pot. So for my second meal, I wanted to stir fry some Trader Joe’s frozen veggies and tofu with Sriracha. The process didn’t end up going as planned: I started off with some oil on the bottom of the hot pot and tossed the veggies and tofu in, realizing soon that nothing was really happening. I ended up adding a bunch of water to the pot and boiling veggies and tofu for 10-15 minutes. After draining the food, I added salt, pepper, and sriracha for what ended up being a pretty delicious and healthy meal.




Finally, my most recent cooking attempt was by far the best. I took into account all of the things I learned from the first two tries and came in ready to make a great meal. I realized that my food would probably taste better with some more flavor, so I got some garlic powder, onion flakes, and soy sauce to go with my simple collection of salt and pepper. In terms of the bulk of the meal, I planned to make a quinoa, peas, chickpeas, and tofu mixture with my tiny collection of flavors and some soy sauce. It was incredibly easy to make – I just added everything to the hot pot at once with about and 1-2 ratio of food to water. I knew the quinoa needed to cook about 10-15 minutes, but I kind of just guessed that after that much time, the rest of the food would also be cooked – and I was right! After adding my seasoning, I drained the excess water that didn’t get soaked up by the now-plump quinoa and added soy sauce. It was such a good meal that I was surprised it lasted more than one meal.


(PC: personal)


Experimenting with cooking for yourself in college is not only enjoyable but also so helpful and important for the future. Learning what you like and don’t like to cook, what smells and tastes good together, and how to create different dishes is so much fun, especially when you get to pride yourself on your favorite delicious dishes. So push those ramen cups to the side, grab a pan, and see what you can create as you “fake adult” your way through the semester.

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