Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

A guide to college cooking for students living off campus

Are you a college student living off campus and have no idea how to prepare meals? Well, keep reading to find out how you can make that happen!
Student preparing a meal.
Kylie Higgins
Student preparing a meal.

Every year around 19 million people in the US enroll in college. College students have busy schedules and they juggle both, school work and extracurricular activities. Finding time to cook, eat, and clean can seem like additional chores. The responsibilities add up quickly, which is why staying organized is key with cooking. Cooking can be time consuming and difficult when just starting out. Many see cooking as a chore and feel forced into it when it can be used as a creative outlet.

Jayme Mussachio, a 19-year-old student from the Bay Area in California, is currently enrolled  at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. This year, Mussachio is in her sophomore year and will no longer be living in the dorms. Living off campus and tasked with many firsts in her life, having to cook for herself  was a challenging task. No more parents to make her meals, and no more dining hall meal plans. “I want to eat healthy, but while still having yummy food, also sticking to my grocery budget.” Jayme, a psychology student, shared.

So, where should college students start? There are two key hacks: meal planning and grocery lists.

Meal planning is simply the term used for preparing a menu for yourself every week. Each week the student would plan out their breakfast, lunch and dinners for that week. After selecting their dishes, they can shop for ingredients required to meal prep ahead for that week. This saves time and eliminates stress for every student. One of the most time-saving parts is preparing some aspects of future meals in advance. For example, things like veggies or rice can be cooked or chopped days in advance, so all you have to do is just warm them up, and they will be ready.

Some easy, simple examples of meal planning could be taco Tuesdays, pizza Fridays, or even just simple recipes like pasta salad, chicken, and rice. Eliminating the guesswork by creating staples in the kitchen will help guide the student through their busy lives, changing how students view cooking from a tedious chore to a fun activity.

Meal prep is especially effective for students who suffer from dietary restraints or are simply just trying to stick to a goal with their food. As Jayme Mussachio had mentioned earlier, she wanted to try and maintain a healthy diet while cooking for herself. Meal planning is an efficient way to be able to eat delicious, balanced meals with minimal effort. Eating healthy can be expensive and very time-consuming when it is not done right. Meal planning, however, is the perfect way to avoid that.

Researching and finding meals to a student’s liking is the perfect way to avoid the trial and error that many deal with when learning how to cook. Meal planning is a way to ensure that students are able to eat healthy and delicious foods without having to worry about a lack of time or resources. After planning out the recipes for the week, it is then time to go grocery shopping!

Grocery lists go hand in hand with meal planning. Creating a list is a great way to get only what you need, reducing food waste and helping students stick to a budget. With aisles on aisles and hundreds of brands and options, a grocery store can be an overwhelming place for young adults. An overload of options can make it much more difficult to stick to just getting things you need rather than whatever looks good, which leads to overshopping.

Aimless shopping often leads to food waste which is unnecessary and expensive. This is one of the main reasons why a grocery list is so important. Grocery lists are also important because you do not lose track of what you want to buy for meal prep. After creating your meal plan for the week, you create a list based on the ingredients your dishes require. Predetermining what food ingredients you need for the week is the easiest and fastest way to shop, and a great way to stick to cost-effective living.

Cooking in college is an intensive learning experience. It can be overwhelming and stressful sometimes, which is why starting students off in the right direction is important through meal planning and use of grocery lists. This ensures a seamless experience for college students. With these hacks, every student should have a smooth transition from not knowing how to cook, to learning how to cook for themselves.

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About the Contributor
Kylie Higgins, Contributor
Hello, my name is Kylie Higgins. I am originally from the Bay Area, California and I am a sophomore business student here at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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