Eating in college is hard. Period. Whether it comes down to cost, accessibility, or time, most college students would concede to the fact that when you’re going to school nearly full time, it can feel totally overwhelming to make ends meet for food three times a day, every day.
I just graduated college, and like many other students, I am aware of and familiar with the struggle. For the majority of my college career, excluding the year I spent in the dorms savoring the endless bounty of a university-sanctioned meal plan, I have been supporting myself on my own. And when you support yourself on your own in college, this means you probably have to get a part time job to even afford groceries each week. On a college budget, eating out each day, or even each week, almost feels like it’s not even an option.
This is why I am a firm believer that every college student should be equipped with a few simple cooking skills. Cooking abilities are kind of like types of foods in that you only need a few staple items to get you going on the right track. If you can successfully learn the basics of cooking, then you will already feel comfortable enough to buy groceries and cook them, thus saving you a world of money that you would otherwise lose to eating out all of the time.
I suggest learning how to cook a few easy foods each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At breakfast, knowing how to cook eggs is a must, because they are so cheap, so easy, and so quick. You can generally buy a carton of eggs for around one to three dollars, and you usually don’t have to worry about them expiring too quickly.
Fried eggs are probably the easiest because you just need to lightly grease the pan, let it get hot, and drop the eggs in for about three minutes. And voila. You have healthy breakfast protein at your fingertips. Bagels are also a great breakfast staple, because cooking them is as easy as dropping them in the toaster. You can buy them in bulk for cheap, and they stay good for a while.
When it comes to lunch and dinner, the cooking level of difficulty will increase a little bit, but there are still some easy options.
Rice is a great choice, because cooking it is as easy as soaking it in hot water for a few minutes first, then letting it simmer in boiling water until it becomes fluffy and moist. There are so many types of rice you can buy, and you can even find cheap box-made rice that comes with seasoning.
I also suggest learning how to boil pasta and to find a few sauces or pasta toppings that you like, because pasta is accessible to make, inexpensive, and can be healthy if you buy veggie pasta or whole grain pasta. The last item I suggest learning how to make in college is chicken, if your diet allows it. Knowing how to fry chicken in a pan or how to bake it with a few simple seasonings can really enhance your grocery diet because, while pastas and grains are filling, having some easy to prepare meat in your diet will keep you satisfied.
It doesn’t have to be hard to survive on a college budget, and more importantly, it doesn’t have to be hard to learn how to cook. Just stick to a few simple cooking techniques at first, and then you can increase the difficulty level and really get creative!