Preparing to Cook in College


One of the biggest challenges young adults have when they go to college is food, or the lack thereof. With tuition, housing, loans, books, school supplies, fees, and other miscellaneous expenses to pay for there is a little, or nothing, left for food. As a result, many college students turn to ramen, frozen pizza, and canned stew for their survival.

Those are usually very cheap items to buy and they filled you up enough to go through your day, but they are not very healthy and, personally, I’m not a happy person when all I have to eat is ramen and frozen pizza.

Studies show that having good decent meals are not only healthier but it can help a student reduce depression and boost academic performance, according to But how can a poor college student afford a good meal?

When I hear the phrases “eat healthy” or “good meal” I think about the home made meals that my mom and my grandmothers would do for me. As I look at those recipes they are not only expensive for my tight budget but they look complicated to do, especially with my lack of cooking skills.

As a college student ̶ that was raised with homemade, from scratch food ̶ the idea of surviving only with instantaneous, frozen, and canned meals terrified me more than the idea of final exams and projects. During my freshman year in college I was able to get all the utensils I needed to cook any meal and found several easy to cook recipes. They are not only affordable for a college student but they do not require a high level of cooking skill, as well.

First things first, getting your kitchen ready. Charlotte Pike, author of the book, “The Hungry Student Cookbook”, shared a list of 10 basic items student should have in your kitchen. Here are some of those items that I have used a lot:

  1. Sharp knife
  2. Wooden Spoons
  3. Oven glove
  4. Can opener
  5. Non-stick baking tray
  6. One large and one small saucepan

Megan Gordon, author of “Whole-Grain Mornings”, shared 10 low-budgeted items that every kitchen should have. Here are the ones of that list that I found very important to have:

  1. Spices
    • Chili powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Curry power
    • Onion powder
    • Salt
    • Pepper
  2. Onions
  3. Cans of Tomatoes
  4. Cans of tuna

I would add paprika and cumin on the spices part, and fresh garlic too. Another item that I believe be a must have for students is a crock pot. Having one of those has been the most helpful kitchen item in my college career. Nothing is easier then throw your food into the crock pot before go to class and when you get back you have dinner ready and waiting for you.

It may seem a lot of stuff to buy but all of those items will last for a long time and they will be well used. In the long run it will save you money and time beside of given you a great meal.



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