5 Ways To Make Cooking Food Easier For Students

By Julia Dunn on August 12, 2016

Cooking food is one of the biggest time-sucking activities in a college student’s life. It can be particularly stressful to find time (and energy) to cook yourself healthy food when your schedule barely allows time for you to breathe.

Here are five useful and time-efficient ways to ease the stress of cooking when you’re a college student:

1. Pre-slice ingredients and store them in containers.

Image via Pixabay

If you like to cook dishes that require chopped or diced vegetables (mushroom and tomato egg sandwich, for instance), chop everything on the weekends and put your diced veggies into small containers.

This way when you’re running late and find yourself hungry, you won’t have an excuse not to use the ingredients since they’ll already be prepared and ready to throw into an omelet, rice bowl, or sandwich.

2. Obtain many sizes of Tupperware.

You likely already realize that cooking your own meals is cheaper than buying food in cafés and restaurants on campus or downtown. However, you’ll need some way to take your homemade foods with you on the go that doesn’t result in macaroni and cheese exploding all over your laptop or peach juice ruining your notebook for computer science class.

College students should have a variety of Tupperware container sizes on hand to make transporting food easy. Large department stores such as Target sell plastic storage containers for just a few dollars, and they come in many sizes and shapes to suit any type of food. Look for the containers that are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe to avoid a fiasco at home.

3. Research cool inexpensive recipes online.

Making eating affordable for college students is a hot topic right now in the way of recipes, and more and more articles are popping up on the internet about making a week’s worth of dinners from $15 worth of ingredients and how to use one food six different ways.

It’s become a challenge to balance a tight budget with healthy eating, and if you find yourself struggling to make use of certain ingredients or you’re having trouble knowing what to cook at all, look up a few different articles on easy, inexpensive recipes you can make with a few ingredients. Many of these articles are also written for those with special diet restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, dairy free, etc.) so no student should have much trouble finding some recipes they can make for a small amount of money.

On a related note, look out for “one pot recipes” on the internet. These recipes are great because they are exactly what they sound like: they take only one pot to make. Students shouldn’t have to worry about doing a sink full of dishes every day, so identifying recipes you can cook in just one pot will save you hassle during cleanup. Plus, one pot recipes are often the simplest recipes in general, so any meal made in one pot shouldn’t require too much extensive cooking skills or complexity.

4. Make a meal schedule.

Don’t you hate the feeling of finding zucchini molding in the back of your fridge because you forgot you had it? Or did you buy a carton of eggs in the store only to come home and find that you already had 20 eggs? It’s so easy to forget what food you have in your fridge when you’re at the grocery store and everything looks tasty.

The best way to make use of every ingredient you buy? Make a schedule of what meals you’ll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner each week.

Image via Flickr

Not only will this help you use all of what you buy, but it’ll help you plan grocery shopping trips at the best times. Plus, you can look forward to planning tasty meals and knowing when you’ll have your favorite foods during a given week. Write out your meal schedule on a dry erase board or large poster paper and hang it in your kitchen or somewhere you can refer back to it.

5. Buy fresh ingredients rather than frozen food.

College students inevitably need their food to be as easy as possible, and for most of us that means buying nearly everything imaginable in frozen form. It’s microwaveable, it’s easy, but it’s often more expensive because of this convenience. To stretch your money as far as possible, buy your vegetables and fruits fresh or in bulk. If you want, you can buy a lot of produce and freeze some of it for future use, and it’ll be just like buying it straight from the frozen section (but probably with fresher flavor and ripeness). It’s typically true that buying anything fresh is cheaper than its frozen version.

With enough planning and intention put into your meal preparation, college students can still eat well and have enough time for everything else in their lives. Good nutrition should never be sacrificed no matter how busy a schedule you have.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
A writer, editor and educator based in Northern California.

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