Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

During my first year of college, I ate a lot of the same meals. I didn’t live in a residence hall as most freshman students do, so I had a teeny tiny kitchen that allowed me to cook. However, it was so small that certain meals I may be craving could be a hassle to make. I might run out of counter space or storage space to try new recipes, so why bother?

Moving into an apartment with a still small, but larger kitchen motivated me to cook more than ever. It was, and still is, so exciting to try a new recipe with my new pots and pans and counter space. In my two years of living in this apartment, I’ve learned a lot about cooking. Here are some of the biggest points that I learned will change your cooking game.

Shred Your Own Cheese

If there is only one suggestion that you retain from this article, let it be this. Shred. Your. Own. Cheese! I know it seems like a hassle; I hate using a cheese grater because it’s time-consuming and can be challenging to use. However, the results are so worth it! I purchased a food processor that can shred an entire block of cheese in less than a minute, and it’s changed my life. Even if this food processor somehow stops working, I will hand grate the cheese because of the drastic difference. Pre-shredded cheese tends to be more expensive than block cheese and is harder to melt. Trust me, you have to try doing it yourself!

Take Your Time

It is so important to take your time when you are cooking. If you are trying a new recipe in a rush, you might miss an ingredient or have to prepare something in a hurry before you can move on. Taking the time to pre-measure your ingredients and wash/chop your produce will help you to make tasty meals.

Use Farmers Market Produce (When You Can)

I know that this is pretty much impossible during the cold months in Ellensburg, but when you are able during spring through early fall, you should definitely visit a farmers market. The produce is locally grown and fresh, the loaves of bread are homemade from scratch and there are yummy snacks to try. I couldn’t believe how different farmers’ market broccoli was from stores when I first visited the Ellensburg Farmers Market. Their broccoli was much greener, softer, and delicious.

Roll Your Lemons and Limes

Cooking with Shereen on TikTok taught me this; when using the juice of a lemon or lime, roll and press it onto your counter underneath your hand. This technique will soften up the fruit, pushing the juice to its center and allowing an easier squeeze.

Mince Your Own Garlic

My mom gave me her old garlic press a few months ago, and I neglected it for weeks. It seemed tedious to have to peel and mince fresh garlic when I could purchase it minced in the seasoning aisle. However, I tried mincing it fresh when trying a shrimp pasta recipe and I will NEVER go back. The difference in flavor is unbelievable and is easier than I expected! There are many garlic press options in stores and on Amazon for very affordable prices, plus garlic lasts in your pantry for several weeks at a time!

Use a Meat Thermometer

Sometimes trying a new recipe can be intimidating because you might not be sure how to tell if the meat you’re using has reached a safe eating temperature. My dad recommended that I purchase a meat thermometer so that I can tell when meat is completely cooked through without having to slice it open. It makes cooking far less stressful and even labels safe temperatures for you.

There are many YouTube channels and TikTok profiles that share easy recipes for beginners. Take one or two of my tips to try one of their recipes and you will be amazed at the meal you create. Happy cooking!

Like this article? Follow @hercampuscwu on Instagram for more.

Kyla is a senior at Central Washington University double majoring in Marketing Management and Leadership and Management with a minor in Digital Marketing. She enjoys reading, cooking, and playing with her dogs.