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Things I Learned Cooking for Myself at College

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

Among the many new changes that come with starting my sophomore year, the most exciting is perhaps no longer being dependent on a university meal plan. Living in an apartment instead of a dorm means having access to a full kitchen and everything that comes along with it, and I have been loving every second! That being said, cooking for myself while also balancing classes, homework, and activities has been a bit of an adjustment, but I’ve learned some lessons during my first few weeks of doing so that will set me up for a year of successful meals!

1.The freezer is your best friend

The best thing I’ve done during the past few weeks has been freezing portions of my food! From half a loaf of bread to fruit, portioning groceries into groups to stay fresh and groups to go in the freezer has definitely helped me decrease my food waste and make groceries last much longer than they would have otherwise. It’s also made cooking meat so easy! I prepare chicken in marinade at the start of the week and then freeze it in individual servings, so when it’s time for dinner, I just have to cook the chicken rather than preparing it. Taking full advantage of your freezer is definitely my top tip for any other students cooking for themselves!

2. The freezer can be your enemy… so turn to your microwave

As much as I have loved freezing my food, it has been incredibly frustrating to get back to my apartment and realize that I forgot to take the chicken or bread that I wanted out of the freezer to defrost. Thankfully, this issue does have an easy solution: the defrost setting on the microwave. I’ve been a bit hesitant to use the microwave to defrost food in the past because I thought it might get a little cooked, but I have gotten familiar with my microwave’s defrost setting and that has definitely worked wonders. 

3. Keep it clean

Something that is very valuable while cooking in a small kitchen is counter space, which I will admit to having a good amount of. Putting things away or cleaning dishes as I cook has made the time spent in the kitchen much less crowded and confusing. It also helps me feel less stressed when I’m done eating and makes post-meal clean up so much easier!

4. You’re a better cook than you think

I have been filled with so much confidence in my cooking skills after making dinner the past few weeks! I’ve been learning to cook for years, so I didn’t doubt that I could, but by following my favorite recipes and my instincts, I’ve made some really great meals. I also have been able to experiment with different seasonings or adding different things to my food and it’s been a lot of fun to see what I enjoy making (and eating.) 

5. It is so much fun to cook for your friends

What I’ve loved even more than making meals that I enjoy is making food to share with my friends and watching them have a good meal. It’s a lot of fun being in the kitchen with a friend, prepping food for dinner or a fun snack later in the day. Being able to cook has added this new way to bond with the people around me and I have really enjoyed being able to experience that. Freshman year was filled with meals with friends, but when you get to see your friends really enjoying their food and it was something you made together, it makes that meal even better!

Emma Prushan

Jefferson '25

Emma is a junior at Jefferson studying Visual Communication Design/Graphic Design. She serves as Senior Editor, Events Coordinator, and Graphic Designer of HerCampus Jefferson. In her free time, she enjoys reading, doing crafts, playing the guitar, and taking any opportunities to be creative!