1. Understand what your body needs
One of the most important things to know when cooking homemade meals is to understand what your body needs in order to function. Something to remember is three food groups: protein, carbs, and fruits/vegetables. Incorporating all of these into a meal whenever possible will give your body the fuel and energy it needs to power through a busy schedule. If you only feed your body junk food, you may find yourself feeling sluggish.
2. Do some planning
Have a grocery list and a few recipe ideas when grocery shopping. You can do a quick search on Youtube or Pinterest to get some ideas and examples. It also gives you a great excuse to watch food videos! Plan to cook on a day when you do not have that late class, so that on the days that you do, you will already have a meal in your fridge.
3. Shop at more budget friendly grocery stores
If you live on or near campus you may be going to one of the big name grocery stores closest to you and overpaying for basic groceries. Safeway and Raleys' tend to be more pricey, especially when buying a week’s worth of groceries. There are some budget friendly stores that are also close to campus or a short drive away. Some of these include: Trader Joe’s, Save Mart, and Grocery Outlet in midtown.
4. Frozen vegetables are your friend
No one likes to be told that they need to eat their vegetables, so I’ll make this brief. Having some bags of frozen vegetables is a game changer. It makes preparing a meal with vegetables, easier versus actually taking the time to cook them, while still getting all the nutrients your body needs.
5. Pantry items
Canned foods and grains are super easy to store and last longer than refrigerated foods. They can be included in so many recipes and usually cost less.
6. Don’t waste food
After going shopping keep the grocery list to keep track of: what you bought that week, what has already been used, and what you have left. If you have something that expires in a few days put a note on your fridge to remind yourself. BONUS TIP: If you buy lunch meat do not throw away the container. Use it as tupperware to pack your lunch or even as food storage.
7. Cook in bigger batches
The ultimate goal for a college student is to cook as little as possible. If you are making dinner, rather than making a single serving, make a second or even third serving, in order to have plenty of leftovers for the next couple of days.
8. Meal ideas/examples
Breakfast: Fall Overnight Oats
Ingredients: oats, milk of choice, cinnamon, pumpkin spice
- Fill a jar or tupperware with as much oats as needed. Pour in your milk of choice until all oats are covered. Sprinkle spices and mix in with oats and milk. Leave in the fridge overnight.
Ingredients: Pasta of choice, frozen vegetables, sauce of choice
- Fill a pot with as much water as you think is needed and bring to a boil. Adding salt to the water decreases the amount of time it takes to boil. Read directions for pasta cook time. Add uncooked pasta when water reaches a boil. When the pasta is half way cooked add in the bag of frozen vegetables. Drain when thoroughly cooked. Return pot to the stove and pour in your sauce. Mix all ingredients together on a low heat until sauce boils.
I hope you find this information useful. Now, get together with some friends and share ideas on easy recipes. If you have a friend or roommate that already cooks ask them for help or get a group together to make a fun time out of it. Happy cooking! :) - Cristal Black