Collegiate Cuisine: How I Learned to (Kind of) Cook for Myself

This year was my first year not being on a meal plan, and making the adjustment to making all of my own meals definitely a struggle. Having to make time to cook easy yet edible and also somewhat healthy lunches and dinners is definitely not something that happens overnight. However, I've picked up on a few helpful tips for all those making a similar transition. These are some things I've learned to do to make cooking for myself less of a hassle.

1. Frozen vegetables are your friend

Buying vegetables frozen is a great way to get the nutrients of vegetables without having to worry about cooking them before they go bad! While I like to buy fresh vegetables if I happen to be grocery shopping at the right time, I've found it super helpful to have a few types of frozen vegetables on hand so that meal prep isn't as much of a hassle. 

2. Make ahead lunches

Often times I'll make a big batch of something in my slow cooker (a wonderful device, by the way) on Sunday and eat it for lunch all week. That way, I don't have to worry as much about making lunch every morning. Plus, it helps me use up vegetables or meats I have on hand that will go bad soon. 

3. Go meatless!

I had never been one to try to cut down on meat, but starting to cook with raw meat definitely freaked me out at first, leading me to try more meatless sources of protein like tofu, lentils, chickpeas, and beans. They're super easy to prepare and can be made in so many different styles that I never get bored of them. Now, even though I've conquered my fear of working with raw meat, I tend to make my lunches and about half my dinners meatless!

Hopefully these tips will make off-campus living easier for anyone who, like me, had to make the transition from meal plan to meals. While it can be stressful at times, learning to meal prep can be fun and make life a bit easier, too.

-Caitlyn Rand