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8 Apartment-Friendly Recipes & Tips, From Someone Who Just Learned How To Cook

I’m the type of person who likes to plan ahead and think things through. However, I did not think through not learning how to cook before moving into my very first apartment. I am ashamed to admit it, but I only learned how to cook just a few months ago. Luckily, I have not had to survive off of GrubHub and UberEats, and have learned some easy but yummy apartment-friendly recipes. Here are 8 recipes and some additional tips if you are just like me, a 20 year old learning how to fend for herself in the kitchen:

Stir-Fried/Sauteed Vegetables + Optional Protein 

We have to get our greens in, girl! Luckily, with this recipe, they are easy to incorporate into your lunch and dinner meal times. 

Take out your favorite vegetables and rinse them. Personally, I like broccoli, mushrooms, and asparagus. 

After they are rinsed and dried, chop them up and put them in a bowl. In the bowl, add olive oil and your favorite seasonings. My go-to’s are salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes with a little bit of ginger. Stir everything around until the vegetables are fully coated in seasoning. 

Put some sort of cover on your bowl and put the vegetables in the fridge to marinate. They can marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes or a maximum of 24 hours. 

When you are ready, take out your vegetables and put them in a pan over low heat, and stir fry everything to your liking. I generally keep everything on the stove for 5-7 minutes. 

This is a great recipe to add protein to—I love the pre-baked Just Chicken from Trader Joe’s—and easy to serve with rice. Top it with your favorite sauce, like a sweet and sour chili sauce, and enjoy!

I love this recipe because it is so quick and makes me feel like a healthy queen. It is also easy to switch up because you can use almost any vegetable.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, but we can’t eat it all the time. Try out this easy, healthy alternative and temporarily satisfy your cravings, but also don’t be afraid to treat yourself on the weekends!

Go to your local Whole Foods or organic market and pick up a cauliflower pizza crust or flatbread. 

When you are ready to make your meal, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. 

Take out the crust and spread your favorite tomato sauce on top.

Take your favorite cheese—I personally use Trader Joe’s Cashew Cheese—and sprinkle it over the pie.

Put the pie in the oven for 16-18 minutes.

When the cheese is melted and the crust is golden-brown and crispy, take out the pizza, add your favorite toppings (oregano, red pepper, etc.), and enjoy!

These pizzas are so fun and easy to make. They are also a great substitute for regular pizza.

Pan Fried Salmon

Let’s get those omega-3’s and add some fish onto our plates. 

For this recipe, you can either use fresh salmon or frozen salmon. I personally like to thaw out frozen salmon because I am the CEO of saying I am going to cook one night and then changing my mind. 

When your salmon is thawed, heat some olive or avocado oil in a pan over medium heat.

Add the fish to the pan and cook each side for about 5-6 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, add seasonings such as garlic powder and lemon zest sauce.

This recipe goes perfectly with the stir fry vegetables from recipe 1 and some rice!

Turkey Burgers 
Image

One thing that defines me as a cook is that I hate dealing with raw meat. However, turkey burgers are really easy to handle, especially when you are buying them in frozen packs from Trader Joes and Whole Foods. 

Take a frozen patty and follow the skillet instructions on the box. I also like to saute some mushrooms and onions after flipping the burger. 

I also recommend popping a bun of your choice into the toaster oven for about 3-4 minutes.

Take your favorite cheese and place it on top of the patty during its last minute on the skillet so it gets nice and gooey or add a fun cheese such as goat or feta onto the bun. 

To add even more flavor, I add something sweet like apple butter to the bun instead of your standard ketchup. For all my UCLA gals, the Thursday farmers’ market in Westwood has some great apple butter!

This recipe is also really fun to customize because you can add so many toppings. Also, the frozen patties prevent you having to deal with the uncomfortable texture of raw meat.

The TikTok Feta Pasta (With a Twist)
Pasta
Shun Matsuhashi / Spoon

Now, before you roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. The TikTok feta pasta is very tasty and easy to make.

Preheat your oven between 375 and 400 degrees.

Take a vegetable of your choice, rinse, and place them in an oven-safe pan. While tomatoes are the standard, I once used broccoli and mushrooms.

Season the vegetables with olive oil and then put a block of feta cheese—or another cheese of your choice—in the middle of the pan.

Roast the veggies and cheese in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. You can always check while everything is roasting and adjust your cook time as needed. 

While your vegetables are roasting, boil your water and cook your pasta. 

Once your pasta is cooked and the vegetables are done, strain your pasta and add it to the pan.

Give everything a mix so the pasta is mixed with the cheese and vegetables, and enjoy!

This dish makes for great leftovers because it is super easy to reheat and enjoy again the next day. It’s perfect for busy weeks such as midterms and even the weekends when you do not want to cook.

Baked Potatoes 

In the words of my roommate, “baked potatoes are so homey.” Not only are they homey, but they have minimal prep and kitchen time. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Take a large potato, rinse, and spread some butter around the skin, adding salt and pepper to your preference.

Wrap the potato in tin foil and place in the oven. Let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. While the potato is baking, I like to marinate and saute some broccoli to go on top.

Check your potato by pushing a fork into the skin. If the fork easily punctures through, your potato is ready!

Carefully unwrap the foil—I like to keep my oven mitts on to prevent burning my fingers.

Cut the potato open and add more butter, salt and pepper. Top with broccoli.

Sprinkle some cheese on top and let it melt, then dive in! 

Baked potatoes are great for when I have a late night of work. I can just plop them in the oven and go finish some reading or notes, or even take a power nap while they are cooking.

TikTok Ramen 

TikTok may be a time suck, but it does come in handy with its recipes. This recipe takes a classic college recipe but makes it a little more magical. 

Boil your water and cook your noodles.

In a skillet over low heat, add soy sauce, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Mix all the ingredients until a sauce starts to form, then add your cooked noodles and toss in the sauce. 

Crack an egg in the same skillet and let it fry.

When the egg is mostly cooked, mix it into the noodles.

Serve with chives, sesame seeds, and your choice of topping.

This recipe is also a great base to add other vegetables and protein! I like eating this dish with the salmon from #3.

Goat Cheese Egg Scramble
Eggs
Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

I couldn’t finish this article without giving some hype to breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. 

Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk.

Add goat cheese. Optionally, add rinsed, cut up mushrooms 

Add salt and pepper, then mix everything together.

Pour everything in a skillet on low heat and let cook.

Use a spatula to fold the eggs.

I also like to cook some bacon on the side to serve together.

Goat cheese makes the eggs so creamy and smooth, so I definitely recommend you try it out instead of the traditional cheddar or American.

Some Extra Tips

Here are some extra tips and ideas that I have put together through my months in the kitchen 

– Use chocolate oat milk when making hot chocolate for an extra rich and creamy taste.

– Avocado toast is a staple and easy to adjust to your preference.

– Rice cakes with peanut butter or apple butter are a great snack!

– The Trader Joes’ frozen section is your friend—I definitely recommend their potstickers, dumplings and falafel. 

I know cooking can seem intimidating, but trust me, if I can work a stove and oven, you can too. I hope these recipes give you something new to try or remind you of meals you can make or try. Remember, if anything goes horribly wrong, you can always log into DoorDash.

BriannaRose is a UCLA Communications major and Film/TV minor who aspires to break boundaries and stigmas. As an aspiring creative director, she works on student films and photography projects. In addition to writing, BriannaRose volunteers at local animal shelters and competes in pageants. She currently represents the city of West Hollywood in the National American Miss system.
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