How to cook well-balanced, healthy meals for dorm, apartment living

Students living in dorms, apartments or houses all face the same challenge: Finding some way to eat three balanced meals a day that don’t require too much time or money. First-time apartment owners might view cooking a meal as a daunting task and resort to buying take-out food each night. Dorm-dwellers can survive on dining hall food but might be craving to try cooking something on their own. Whether you’re testing out the kitchen in your residence hall or attempting to use the kitchen in your apartment for the first time, here are some tips to guarantee your cooking experience is a success:

1. Keep it simple. Simplicity is essential in the kitchen. Oatmeal takes minutes in the microwave, and add-ins like brown sugar or blueberries make it an easy breakfast option. If you want to make chicken for dinner, cooking chicken breast can be painless by grilling or sautéing it on the stove. Students don’t need to spend hours to make a good meal.

2. Mix it up. Hilary Lohman, junior in LAS, believes that combining a wide variety of ingredients is key to making her meals delicious.

“I mix whatever I have on hand to make some sort of pseudo-casserole,” Lohman said. “My most recent one had boxed macaroni, tuna and peas, and it wasn’t too bad.”

3. Plan ahead. Haris Karajic, junior in Fine and Applied Arts, said time management is essential when planning to cook meals.

“What I do is spend one day cooking, and then just heat (the leftovers) up for meals throughout the week,” he said.

To ensure you have all the ingredients you need to cook the meal, create a detailed grocery list before you head to the store.

4. Shop smart. Searching for the best deals and buying in bulk are two ways you can get quality food at an affordable price. Try planning a trip to Walmart or Sam’s Club where you can buy items in bulk.

5. Have balance. Part of feeling good comes from eating well. Students should make sure their diet consists of all the five food groups. Teighlor Traywick, freshman in Applied Health Sciences, tries to eat a variety of food while living in the dorms.

“My roommate and I cook a lot of noodles, but we put our own spice to it, like we added chicken from the dining hall, or other sauces,” Traywick said. “We have balanced meals by drinking milk in cereal and eating a lot of fruit, so that’s how we keep it balanced, or try to, at least.”

Michelle is a freshman in DGS. She can be reached at [email protected]