Moving away from my parents and stocked fridges, freezers, and cupboards seemed very overwhelming at first. When getting ready to move out and away to school, the thought of being on my own and cooking for the first time were terrifying. I am no chef. The only recipes I had in my back pocket as I arrived at my student house were the basic scrambled eggs breakfast and chicken salad dinner. Oh, and of course, instant oatmeal. Needless to say, I was severely underprepared, and there were many calls home asking for meal ideas, measurements, and basic cooking questions I laugh at when thinking about now.
Cooking can be difficult on your own. It is easy to opt-out with Uber eats or a quick walk to the nearest fast-food restaurant where food comes easy, tasty, and cheap. However, it is not in the best interest of your health or the environment. Thankfully, there are many online resources for student cooking, including recipe books, websites, Instagram pages, and even TikTok accounts. Many are dedicated to helping us “starving students” thrive while on a budget.
One website, in particular, I keep falling back on, is Cassey Ho’s Blogilates. Not only does she post awesome Pilate workout videos, but she has her own recipe book and food guides for all different lifestyles (including vegetarian, vegan, etc.). She has lists of recipes included with in-depth instructions and nutritional information. There are even printable grocery lists and calendars to keep track of what to buy for when. (Her workout calendars are worth checking out as well.)
TikTok, currently the fastest growing social media platform globally (according to Forbes), has every kind of niche video you can think of, and this includes food TikTok. There are so many accounts featuring 15-60 second videos of quick and easy recipes – straightforward and to the point. The account @Collegechefron caught my attention for its emphasis on affordable and easy recipes specifically for college/university students. He shows how much the recipes cost, a lot being $5 or under, and then a tutorial to follow. They’re fast, pretty simple, and designed by a college student for college students.
Another helpful TikTok account is @JeremyScheck, who has a website up called The Collegetown Kitchen. He has great recipes for healthy eating while away at school. Not only are his TikTok videos extremely well shot and make you hungry on the spot, but his website is on a whole other level. He has a section called “How to Build a Functional Pantry” with tips for students in dorm rooms or student houses who are just starting to cook and buy groceries on their own and don’t know where to start. He has a great meal prep guide, and his Food Safety 101 section is also a helpful read for newcomers to the kitchen.
The most important things I have learned so far from cooking on my own is to 1. Not shop while hungry (I end up buying so much more than I have to) and 2. Plan out my meals for the week – this makes shopping easier and helps avoid opting out for processed or fast food last minute (especially when you know you’ll have leftovers – less cooking the next day!)
It’s important to put time and thought into the food we eat, which can be difficult with a full-time student’s schedule. Especially with everything being online, the motivation to eat healthily can be lost after a long day of staring at a screen as you want something easy and tasty. That’s why it is so important we pay attention to what we are eating (and also how much time we spend inside: daily walks are a great way to break up work and get some fresh air) – not only for our overall health but also for our overall learning as students. Being well-nourished is linked to better memory and alertness, faster information processing, and improved mental health and overall mood. Not to mention, eating healthy helps lessen our impact on the environment. The fast-food industry is known for its consumption of water and land and the emission of greenhouse gases. By choosing to eat out less, we can all take small steps towards creating not only a healthier self but a healthier world too.
This being said, a few Wine Wednesdays or a pizza dinner on the weekend could be beneficial too. Treating yourself is important now and then, especially when we remember to be health conscious most of the time.
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