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College Cooking 101

Transitioning from high school to college also includes learning how to survive without Mom’s cooking. If you’re living on campus, you’ll have the option of signing up for a meal plan. Although this isn’t quite like home cooking, it will make dining on campus quick and easy. If you decide to live off campus, be prepared to cook on your own. Browse through our College Cooking 101 section for tips on eating will on a budget and basic culinary skills to learn how to make a solid meal. Remember, you do not need a background in French cuisine to eat well and cheapanywhere.

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Make Smart Choices

Everyone knows about the “Freshman 15.” They are the dreaded 15 pounds (or more) you will gain by replacing home cooked meals in high school with late night pizza runs and junk food to push you through all-nighters. To avoid the Freshmen 15, make time to eat nutritiously during the day so you’re not tempted to order out late at night. If you get hungry in between meals, stock up on healthy snacks, like fruits and raw vegetables, from your school’s cafeteria. Stock up on extra snacks to put in your fridge if you live in an off-campus apartment. Join a club sport go to the campus gym to compensate for a poor snacking decisions. Your tuition fees are paying for you to use their facilities, so utilize your school cafeteria and campus gym.

Mind Your Budget

You probably won’t have time to worry about grocery lists while studying for finals, making plans for Friday night, and picking up an extra shift at your part-time job. Luckily, college meal plans have a list already made, and you can avoid making your own list until after you graduate. If you do decide to shop for your own groceries, local businesses will have a wide range of options for budget-conscious shoppers.

Save that hard-earned (or hard-loaned) money and eat in. You don’t need top chef skills to make yourself a cheap and tasty meal that’s better than a bowl of cereal. Get in touch with your culinary side by investing in a George Foreman grill, or similar kitchen grilling aid, to quickly cook up a chicken breast without a conventional oven. Stock up on basics such as rice, pasta and frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies are not only cheaper, but less perishable. If you’re really adventurous, buy a cookbook with quick and easy budget friendly recipes to expand your skills and wow your roommates. Most importantly, stay on top of managing your budget. Make a list before going to the grocery so you don’t over spend and stress between paychecks and financial aid disbursements.

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Last Reviewed: December 2022