Cooking in College, Beyond Ramen
Eating is one of the most fundamental aspects of daily life. When you’re new to college, you’ll quickly find that your eating options come will be coming from one of these places.
If your college invests in its food, you’ll be able to consistently get good meals. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. It’ll provide some nutritional value, but it probably won’t be tasty or healthy.
Local Restaurants and Takeout
While this depends on the area the college is located in, most of the time your high-quality meals will be coming from off-campus. Fortunately, local businesses tend to make themselves accessible to college students. Unfortunately, unless you’re in the heart of a big city, you better hope you like the kinds of food they provide, because you aren’t getting much else.
This can include anything ready-to-eat you’ve stocked up or meals you’ve made yourself. Preparing your own food is usually the cheapest option, but the time, skill, and energy it takes to cook leaves many college students cooking nothing but ramen in their kitchens.
Cafeteria food will get boring fast, and unless your budget can take restaurant and takeout options for the next four years, you’ll need to learn some basic cooking skills. But fear not! For the art of cooking for yourself is a simple three part process.
Find out what you want to be eating, and find recipes and ingredients for what you’ll be making. Sometimes you’ll need to substitute ingredients if you can’t find what you need. If you need to do that, make sure to look up the proper substitutions online.
The instructions! I don’t care if you’re doing as simple as following a cake-mix recipe that has the instructions spelled out for you on the side of the box.
Follow the instructions as close as possible! If the instructions say one cup of warm water, get a one cup measure and make sure your tap water is running slightly higher than room temperature.
If you try to make a small cup of coffee with a huge mug of cold water, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t come out how you want it.
They say practice makes perfect. While that’s not always entirely true, it’s a good motto when it comes to cooking. After you learn how to follow the instructions, it comes down to experience.
When you first start making, say, muffins. follow the recipe to the “T” for the first two or three times. After that, you’ll probably start transitioning to making it by memory.
Eventually, there’s a point where you won’t even have to use formal measurements. You’ll be able to add the ingredients and amounts by memory. Through sight, feel, and taste, you’ll know which ingredients to use to improve the batter.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll start innovating. You’ll mix recipes, add new ingredients, experiment with different techniques.
Don’t be scared to try, and don’t be discouraged if the result doesn’t come out quite as you wanted on the first try. Cooking is an art, one that requires preparation, instruction, and practice. And in the next four years of your college career, you won’t be short on time.