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Adjusting to Apartment Life: Cooking for One

 

 

As many seniors have discovered this year, off-campus living has its benefits in more ways than one. There are the perks of finally having your own bedroom again, (in some cases even your own bathroom), and most importantly, no longer having to relying on the dining halls as your sole source of food. However, if you’re anything like me, you started the school year with little to no food preparation knowledge or culinary skills. I wish I was lying when I say that I almost started a fire one of the first times I made dinner here – it is certainly not my proudest moment and I didn’t cook again for about a week after that. However, the experience taught me some important lessons about how to best approach living on your own and be responsible for all of your own meals.

One of the biggest struggles one encounters when cooking for only one person is the issue of food waste. Most recipes offer meal instructions for groups of up to four or five people, and this can pose significant challenges for waste-conscious college students living on a budget. Cooking for yourself requires strategy, thoughtful planning, and anticipation of your upcoming week. Below are some approaches to cooking I’ve found to be very beneficial when starting out in your own kitchen.

Buy your produce and protein wisely

No one wants to spend an hour at the grocery store every week. Stocking up on protein and other food staples and replenishing your produce only when necessary is a great ways to avoid endless trips to the store. Individually wrapping and freezing your meat allows you to plan exactly how many meals you’re prepared to make, and makes the defrosting process easier when you are ready to cook.

Two Words: Crock Pot

The crock pot is an incredible invention. It allows you to prepare your meal early during on in the day when you have a little more free time so that you can return home after all of the day’s activities to a warm, fresh-cooked meal. My favorite part about crock pot cooking is that by freezing the leftovers, I have dinner for several days prepared and ready to go. You can find fairly inexpensive crock pots at Target and similar stores, and they’re definitely worth the investment.

Speaking of leftovers…

Some people are very averse to eating leftovers, but I personally love doing it. It’s super easy to incorporate your leftover chicken into a wrap, or cook some extra vegetables and serve them over pasta the next day. Eating leftovers allows you to maximize your use of the food you’re buying, and can often serve as a great time-saving mechanism as well.

Plan Ahead

With the inevitably hectic nature of college Sundays, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to anticipate what your dinner schedule will look like that week. Glancing ahead at your activities for the week can be hugely helpful for meal planning purposes and general life organization, as you can save your quicker meals for busier nights.

When all else fails, invest in a mini meal plan

The University offers smaller meal plan options for students living off campus, so you can still drop into the dining hall and grab a meal there if you’re really crunched for time. This can be a great option, especially if you still have friends living on campus. Not to mention the perks of having some flex points again – we all know how necessary those are.

Most importantly, cooking requires a great deal of patience, focus, and diligent practice. So don’t let one bad experience discourage you! As Julia Child once said, “The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Well said, Julia Child.

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Katie Anne

Notre Dame

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