Ali: Learning How to Cook for Yourself


For my junior year at BU, I decided to move into an apartment in South Campus. For the first time in my college career, I have my own room, my own bathroom, and my own kitchen. I also don’t have a dining plan. 

I spent a lot of nights eating cereal and instant oatmeal for dinner early on, and while that’s fine sometimes, it’s no way to live. Managing cooking for myself was a big transition from relying on the dining hall, so I’m here to share my knowledge with you. These are my top five tips for navigating cooking on your own for the first time!

1) Start practicing early

I cooked with my mom as often as I could while I was at home this past summer. This helped me learn a lot of basic skills, like knowing when meat is cooked through and how to chop veggies without losing a finger. It also allowed me to try out some new recipes while I still had a sous chef to help out.

2) Collect as many recipes as you can

I asked my mom for a copy of all the recipes she has that I like. I have a recipe app (not sponsored) that I use to keep track of them, but you could go old school and keep a recipe book too. I went on Pinterest and searched for easy recipes I thought sounded good. I asked my friends who already lived in apartments what they liked to cook for themselves. The more recipes you have that you want to try, the more fun cooking is and the less it feels like a chore.

3) Share cooking duties with your roommates

Why cook two separate meals when you don’t have to? Coordinate dinner plans with your roommates! Having each person make one or two meals a week cuts down on how much cooking you do individually. You can also try some new recipes in the process! And when all else fails, you can always opt to share the delivery fee on some takeout.

4) Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers

You may be tempted to only make enough food for one meal when you cook, but if you make an extra portion, you can put it in the fridge for later! I bought some single-portion storage containers, so when I’m done with dinner I can pack up the rest for lunches and dinners over the next few days. This spreads out how often you have to cook, and can be helpful if you don’t have a lot of time but need some food. You can also freeze leftovers — I like to make bigger batches of homemade spaghetti sauce and soups so I can reheat them later!

5) Stock up on frozen foods

One of the most important things you learn in college is to know your limitations. Sometimes, you just don’t have the time or desire to cook for yourself, but what do you do if you don’t have any leftovers in the fridge? Enter frozen foods. There are three essentials I keep my freezer stocked with: Trader Joe’s frozen entrees (my personal favorites are Chana Masala and Butter Chicken), chicken nuggets, and Bagel Bites.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you won’t become Gordon Ramsay overnight! It’s okay to make food that tastes bad or sets off the smoke alarms every once in a while. Be proud of your creations and you’ll be a master chef in no time.

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