Cooking for Yourself in College: Why You Should Do It & 5 Tips to Get Started

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If you live on campus and have access to a cafeteria, or if you've just gotten into the habit of buying frozen meals and take-out instead of peeling potatoes, this post is for you. Sure, with our busy schedules, it might seem like taking the time to cook a real meal just isn't worth it, but here are some reasons why we should start teaching ourselves to cook in college, as well as some tips on how to get started:

Why You Should Cook for Yourself in College

You'll Save Money

Cooking for yourself will save you loads of money! Instead of paying $8 for a ready-made frozen meal, you could spend $10 and get ingredients to make that meal three times over.

Buying produce and meat that you have to prepare yourself is cheaper in the long run, simply because it is more time consuming to prepare. When buying take-out or prepared meals, we're paying extra for convenience. This is okay once in a while, since everybody gets overwhelmed sometimes, but you'd be surprised how much money you could be saving if you made the effort to cook for yourself! By the way, that's money you could put towards something more important, like, say, a hot new faux fur vest for fall?

You'll Get Healthier

We all know fast food isn't the healthiest option out there, but even the healthier prepared meals you pick up at the supermarket can be full of sodium and preservatives, so they can cook it at the factory and have it stay good until you finally decide to pop the dish in your microwave.

As I said before, once in a while, this kind of meal won't kill you, but it's so much healthier to prepare your own meals and know exactly what you're putting into them. This is especially important if you have any kind of food allergy or intolerance, since packages aren't always clearly labeled, and you could end up consuming some ingredients you'd rather not.

You'll Prepare for the Future

Eventually, we're going to graduate (gasp), get jobs, and start our lives. I'm not saying there aren't adults out there who live on McDonald's and Subway, but if you plan on having a sit-down meal with family or friends on a regular basis in the future, why not start preparing yourself now?

Learning how to cook can be a really rewarding and an essential life skill, and it can also help you feel more balanced and capable someday when you're really out on your own and building your future. Plus, it can be loads of fun!


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Getting Started Cooking for Yourself

Now that I've (hopefully) inspired you to start learning how to cook, here are some easy tips for getting started:

  • Start small. Maybe try cooking just one night a week, when you're not as busy, or alternate with roommates to prepare meals together, or for one another.
  • Plan ahead. Before you go grocery shopping, make a meal plan for the week. Even if that plan includes frozen pizza three times, it will allow you to map out when you want to cook, what you're going to make, and what you need to buy, so you don't overspend or get overwhelmed.
  • Do your homework. Ask for a beginner's cookbook for Christmas, check out recipe websites like Cooking Light, or blogs like Cooking With Amy, or even ask your Mom and Grandma to teach you some of their favorite recipes. There are all kinds of resources out there - you just have to look!
  • Experiment. The best way to learn how to cook is to take chances and try new things. It won't always work out, but you'll learn important lessons (like how measurements are really important in baking!) and you'll have some fun along the way.
  • Recruit others. Have your roommates, friends, boyfriend, etc. try to start learning along with you. You can swap recipes, share horror stories, and even organize a potluck so everyone can show off their latest accomplishments. It takes a lot of the stress off if you're not going at it alone.


What do you guys think? Do you cook for yourself or are you more of a pre-made meal kind of girl? Where are your favorite spots to find recipes? Leave a comment and let us know!

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