Although it can be easy to get stuck into a loop of making ramen and microwave mac and cheese when juggling a busy schedule in college, it doesn’t have to be a chore to make healthy and easy meals for yourself. Finding the time and figuring out some easy meals that you can make at least a few times a week is the key to getting into the routine of cooking.
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that it’s never a good idea to go into a grocery store hungry and with no list unless you want to come out with a mix of random food items and snacks. One of the biggest things that have helped me get more into cooking throughout college is sitting down the night before my shopping trip and planning out four to five dinner meals for the week. I find breakfast and lunch to be a lot easier, so I don’t plan those as much. I plan out the meals and write down all the ingredients I would need to make them and that I would need to pick up. By doing this you’re eliminating the stress of trying to frantically think of meals on the spot at the store.
If you find yourself not having enough time to cook a meal every night, I find that cooking or prepping some of the ingredients ahead of time lightens your workload for later on. If I know I need chicken cooked for a recipe, if I have the time earlier in the day, I’ll cook that up and store it in the fridge until I need it for the meal. I also find that watching a show or a YouTube video while I’m cooking makes it a bit more entertaining. Also, use your roommates to your advantage. If you and your roommates get along, try cooking with them and sharing a meal! If more than one person is in on the cooking it goes by so much faster. You can split the price of ingredients or take turns buying the stuff to make it fair, but either way, it makes cooking faster and honestly way more fun when you have a friend to hang out with while doing so.
Meal prepping has become very popular within the last few years because it’s so convenient. If you live alone or just routinely only cook for yourself and you don’t feel like doing it every day, finding a day to prep meals for the week is one of the best things you can do. You can buy sealable plastic food containers at Target or Walmart to store your meals in and they’ll stay good in the fridge for the whole week. The best way to do this is to pick a meal you really like that incorporates protein—like meat—rice and a vegetable. Cooking all of that up and portioning it out for the following days makes it easy to just pop that in the microwave whenever you need a meal. Another way you can meal-prep that’s not as thought out, is making a bigger portion than you’d typically eat and saving it for leftovers for lunch or dinner the following day.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE EASY MEALS
- Chicken, rice, and a veggie
- Chicken quesadillas/fajitas with peppers and onions
- Stuffed peppers with beef, rice, and cheese
- Chicken fried rice with veggies
- Tuna melts and asparagus/green beans
- Chicken pasta with alfredo sauce
- Buffalo chicken wraps
The days of eating fast-food and microwave meals every day are over. Implementing some of these tips into your routine will definitely end up saving you some time and energy if you dread the thought of cooking daily. Making cooking enjoyable for yourself is one of the best things you can do, plus you learn a lot along the way and are rewarded with delicious food you made yourself in the end!