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College kid’s guide to the kitchen

As a student living off campus, I’ve noticed that not everyone grew up cooking. Moving from the dorms, I was excited to upgrade from a microwave to a full kitchen.

My housemates, on the other hand, were not so excited at the prospect of a stovetop. Luckily for me, they can boil water and can make some mean mac and cheese.

Along with this, they are always more than willing to learn how to do something or ask questions if they don’t know how to do something.

For those of you who can cook, hopefully, this may serve as some meal inspiration. For those of you who have never cooked before or are not comfortable in a kitchen, hopefully, this may serve as encouragement.

Go-to meals for beginners:

Anything pasta related
Spaghetti involves a jar of sauce and pasta (you can brown hamburger and make it into a meat sauce if you would like). Chicken alfredo has a similar breakdown where it is sauce, noodles and meat. If you are not ready to work with meat, or are a vegetarian, then meatless spaghetti and fettuccine alfredo are great starters. Pair this with garlic bread, homemade or from the freezer section, and you are golden.

Breakfast for dinner:
There is no wrong time to eat pancakes. With some pancake mix and water, you can make a meal that feels grown up without worrying about cooking too many things at once. Add bacon and you have the perfect meal for mixing things up.

Taco night is a go-to at my house! You can pick your meat choice – we buy pre-seasoned fajita chicken or make our own – and figure out what you need for the tacos (cheese, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, etc.) and have everyone make their own. Add in chips and salsa, whether store-bought or homemade, and you have a meal perfect for a game night with friends or a night in.

All of these meals are easy for practicing basic cooking and food preparation skills. Once you get more comfortable, you can build off of these meals.

Pasta night could turn into carbonara or lasagna. Breakfast could turn into a full brunch spread with omelets and biscuits and gravy. Taco night could become more homemade with the addition of homemade guacamole and salsa.

Cooking takes practice and patience. Not every meal is going to turn out perfect and I have yet to meet a college student that is ready to take on a master chef. Use these ideas as stepping stones and inspiration to reduce your frozen pizza consumption to three nights a week.

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