College is hard enough without having to think about how you’re going to feed yourself. Between grocery shopping and following recipes, cooking can get quite overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! There are many little things you can do to make cooking simpler and more fun. To ease your college cuisine worries, here are a few tips to make cooking easier:
1. Shop for what you’re cooking
It’s easy to go to the store and pick out things you think you’ll need when you cook. But this strategy can lead you to buying things you won’t use, or not buying the things you will need. Before going to the store, figure out what you’re going to be cooking and buy the ingredients you will need to cook your dish. This way, you’ll have exactly what you need and none of what you don’t.
2. Freeze things in portions
To make thawing meat easy, portion your meats and put them in different zip lock bags. This way, when you want to cook some, you won’t have to thaw all the meat you bought each time you want to cook it. Did you know you can also freeze cooked rice? You can do this by bundling a cup (for portion control) of leftover rice in saran wrap and sticking it in the freezer. When you want to eat it, put the whole thing in the microwave and heat it for 2 minutes.
3. Have your go-to recipes in stock
While cooking and trying exotic recipes can be fun, you never know when you’ll be pressed for time or need a quick meal. Having simple go-to recipes with ingredients always in stock will make these scenarios less stressful and you’ll be able to make these meals without thinking too much.
4. Buy ready-prepared ingredients
A lot of ingredients you use can be found already prepared. For example, stores like Trader Joes and Costco have ingredients like pre-cooked chicken that you can throw into a salad or pre-cut veggies that you can quickly throw into a stir-fry. You can also find jars of minced garlic or chopped onions so that you don’t have to prepare it yourself. Buying pre-prepared ingredients can be a true time-saver.
5. Cook twice as much as you’ll eat
This tip is a no-brainer if you want to make meal time easy on yourself. By cooking extra, you’ll have leftovers which you can pop in the microwave for a super easy dinner for the next day.
6. Freeze meals you made
A lot of meals you make can be frozen and thawed for another day. For example, chili is a great meal that you can make in excess and freeze for when you don’t feel like cooking. Stews are also something you can freeze.
7. Crockpot it
Crockpots are the tools of the gods. Although this one does require access to a crockpot, once acquired, all you have to do is throw some ingredients inside and BAM! You’ll have a meal a couple hours later. Even the most terrible cooks out there (probably) can’t mess up a crockpot meal. The only caveat with crockpot meals is that you have to start it quite a while before you want to eat. They are definitely not for the spontaneous eaters.
Cooking can be fun (and it should be!), not stressful or overwhelming. Use these tips and we guarantee you’ll feel like a chef in no time.