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Okay, let’s be honest here, the chances of you being in college and having a nice wooden cutting board like the one in the picture, a knife that isn’t dull to chop up veggies, or even a kitchen is slim. I was unable to cook at college until my last year here, so that left me basically no experience cooking a meal once I finally had a kitchen available to use. I tried to help out at home as much as I possibly could without getting in the way of my parents (I am not a fast learner when it comes to cooking, so I do the salad, set the table, and help with cleaning up). These are some easy meals and tips that I have learned the past semester and a half that might help you when it comes time for you to start cooking in college!

Use Pinterest

Half the time, the hurdle to overcome is what to make! Using Pinterest to come up with ideas for meals is extremely easy. There are so many recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and cocktails to pick and choose from. For dinner or lunch I would type in the search bar what type of meat and time of day you’ll be eating to get the best results. It’ll look like this: Chicken dinner ideas.

Recipe First

More often than I would like to admit, I have to run to the store and grab some things I forgot about in order to make a meal. Choosing a recipe at least a day or two before gives you enough time to go grocery shopping and get all of the ingredients in your recipe. It can also be helpful to write a list of all the things you don’t already have and double check your spices and refrigerator to make sure you actually need them. In the past when I haven’t checked, I have bought spices that were already sitting in my spice cabinet!

Simple is Better Than Nothing

You don’t need to make a perfect looking, instagram worthy acai bowl or avacado toast for it to be delicious! Half the time I question whether food other people and influencers post actually tastes good or is just posted for the asthetic. Stay simple with your meals at first, don’t try to be extravagant. If you try making a meal that’s difficult right away, you might feel discouraged and not want to try cooking again. Make a list in your phone or on a notepad of recipes you want to make in the future so once you get the hang of things, you can try some of the harder recipes.

Meat, Carbs and Veggies

When I try to plan a meal for dinner, I always make sure there is a type of meat, carb, and veggie that I’ll be cooking. This obviously won’t work for everyone since some people have food restrictions or specific diets, but it could work for some. My go to meats to choose from are chicken, pork, and ground turkey since they’re a bit friendlier to a college student’s budget. For carbs I switch it up going between a form of potatoes, rice, noodles/pasta, etc. and for vegetables I love brussel sprouts, broccoli and green beans. These are easy to make in the oven or on the stove, and can be seasoned by garlic powder, salt and pepper to keep it simple if you don’t have a recipe to follow.

What You Need

Only buy what you need from the store for your recipe or what you want to make! It can be hard not to stray from the list of items you know you need, but it can become expensive very quickly if you aren’t used to buying groceries. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve gone grocery shopping to get ingredients for meals and somehow end up with much more than I had on my list. In the past, the advice I have been given was that you shouldn’t get groceries when you’re hungry because you’ll buy a ton of things that look yummy but you don’t need, which I have found to be true, so take that advice!

Cooking in college can be difficult, but if you try to use some of these tips, you’ll get more experience and turn into a chef in no time. Have fun cooking!

Nikki is currently in her final year in the 3+1 Masters in Accounting Program at Siena College. She loves art, turtles, the color blue and italian food (especially her mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs). She is currently working towards her CPA and just accepted a full time position at The Bonadio Group with the Commercial Audit Team!
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