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Column: Eat more than microwaved meals

Photo via Kyle St. John.

Cooking is something that many college students say they are bad at. They often don’t feel the need to learn to cook because they have easy access to dining halls or other on-campus food. However, cooking meals is a very important skill to have, and learning it can benefit you for the rest of your life.

Back around 2010, my family was watching the show “Worst Cooks in America.” My parents were convinced that if the contestants, who had given their families food poisoning multiple times, could learn how to cook, then they could, too. My parents made it their mission to become better at cooking. From that point on, we not only had better food but a wider variety of meals.

I can still remember three or four years ago when my brother burnt mac and cheese. I now consider him to be one of the best home cooks I know. When I asked him about why he started cooking, he said,

“Living in my college apartment/dorm, I got so sick of Pop-Tarts and dorm food. When I got a kitchen, I slowly taught myself stuff with the help of Mom. It was mainly because I desperately hated all the packaged meals and stuff.”

If my brother can do it, so can you.

If you aren’t completely convinced that you can and should learn to make your own meals, here are some of the benefits.

It saves you money

One World, a restaurant that everyone at Bradley knows, charges $12 for a burger with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a side of fries. If we consider that a burger is a single meal, then it is $12 per serving. In contrast, if you make three burgers yourself, you can buy a pound of ground beef, fries, a head of lettuce, a tomato, an onion and burger buns all for about $15. That is $5 per serving, $7 less than a serving at One World.

Maybe it won’t be as good when you first make it, but as you learn and try new techniques, it will get better, and you will be able to cook the burger exactly how you want it.

It is healthier

If saving money wasn’t enough incentive, cooking your own food is almost always healthier, especially if you compare it to fast food. Everyone knows that fast food, while delicious, isn’t great for your body if you have it all the time. Cooking at home allows you to control the process, such as the amount of oil and ingredients you use.

It expands your dining possibilities

Always eating frozen or prepackaged meals can severely limit your dining range. Most people have their go-to 10-20 frozen meals and don’t often venture out, mostly because of the limited number of different meals that manufacturers make.

It’s much easier to learn to cook than you might think. It’s something that can be enjoyable both while in the kitchen and while eating. Every college student who has access to a kitchen should take the time to learn to cook their own meals.

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