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Cooking in College: How and Why You Should Start

My food pyramid in college, up until a few weeks ago, could have been equally divided into three sections: froyo, protein bars and pizza. Considering how central these foods have been in my college diet, it’s really remarkable I made it through freshman year without getting scurvy. The majority of college students opt for cheap, convenient food three times a day, and who can blame them? Between classes, studying, meetings and socializing, there doesn’t seem to be time left over for cooking healthy meals. But cooking doesn’t need to come at the expense of your time. In fact, cooking a few meals a week can have a positive impact on your health and bank account. Here are a few reasons why you should give your microwave and DukeCard a break, and give cooking a try.

Cooking is Cheap

Even if your groceries are coming from Whole Foods, cooking is less expensive than ordering in or going out for meals. A bag of carrots, a box of pasta and organic chicken thighs at Whole Foods costs about twelve dollars, but will easily make four servings. A 24 oz. box of generic pancake batter costs about five dollars, and a dozen eggs costs roughly two dollars. For the price of two Starbucks Frappuccinos, you’ve got breakfast for two weeks!

Cooking is Quick

Time is a precious commodity for college students. But putting water on to boil for pasta, or throwing hamburgers in a skillet, only takes a couple of minutes. And while you wait for your vegetables to steam or your chicken to grill, you can continue to study, peruse Facebook or talk on the phone. It takes about 45 minutes for food to be delivered from the places around Duke. In that time, you could have cooked, eaten, and cleaned up a cheaper and healthier meal. 

Cooking is Healthy

While there are plenty of healthy options on and around Duke’s campus, the easiest way to guarantee a healthy meal is to make it yourself. It’s easier to control portion sizes, sodium and calories when you make your own food. The person making your Dominos pizza probably isn’t as concerned that you avoid the freshman fifteen and stay healthy as you are. 

Cooking is Easy

The idea of cooking can seem overwhelming. You might not know where to begin, or consider yourself incapable. But as my grandmother says, anyone who can read can cook. There are thousands of sites that provide easy, inexpensive and quick recipes for students. This BBC student recipe website has a nice layout and a lot of great ideas, but there are tons of other options out there. 

Not only can cooking save you money and help you stay healthy, it can actually be a lot of fun. Invite some friends over and make cooking a weekly event. The more you try it, the easier it will get, and the more fun you’ll have! 

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