Cooking Tips for College Students

So, you’re broke, but you still need to eat. We’ve all been there. There are ways to still be eating fulfilling meals without breaking the bank – meals that taste good and have nutritional value. Plus, they’re not hard to make.

First, know your capabilities. If you’re a terrible cook, that’s OK. You can become a better one by getting practice. This may sound silly, but watching cooking shows can also help you get a feel for techniques and timing. The big things you have to do are: follow instructions, taste your food as you go (except raw meat!), and find out what you should be looking for to know when something is done. If your recipe is unclear, Google it. Choose easy recipes at first – a lot of sites have an indicator for difficulty – and work your way up.

Vegetable-heavy, meat-light dishes are going to be, generally, both easier and cheaper. Fruits and vegetables are an inexpensive way to beef up your diet into something your mother wouldn’t scold you for. Plus, you can throw extra vegetables into your sandwiches after you’ve gotten a couple meals out of them. Lentils, rice and potatoes are also cheap and filling, and nut butters and eggs are healthy ways to get protein that tend to be more affordable and longer lasting than many meat options. Making vegetable-heavy dishes will also give you a way to feel out your preferences for seasoning. Vegetables are fairly forgiving and can go with most herbs and spices, though some pair better than others. This is also true of grains and starches.

Have spices and herbs and use them liberally. A mediocre meal can often be picked up dramatically with salt, oil, pepper, chili flakes, thyme, etc. If you can’t afford to buy a whole spice rack all at once, choose a couple things at a time that you want to experiment with and find recipes to fit. Just always have salt and pepper.

Use the Internet to find ways to spice up the premade foods you do have around the house and don’t hesitate to make side dishes. Similarly, not all microwaveable Indian food dishes come with rice; you could make some rice to go along. You can also make ‘chips’ out of extra vegetables by cutting them thin and crisping them up in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Just be smart about what you put into your body. Try to remember the food groups and look to fill any categories you’re missing.

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