Ask any college student and they'll tell you: grocery shopping and cooking are both hard.
For many of us, this is the first time in our lives we have had to figure out how to gather and prepare food on our own.
Before college, most likely, your parents bought all of the food – and even if they didn't make dinner every night, they had a bunch of other options readily available for you to eat in the fridge and pantry. Then, once you got to college and past your freshman year meal plan, you discover cooking is not the easiest task. Not to mention grocery shopping, which is overwhelming to say the least.
But for most of us, it just isn't realistic or affordable to eat out the majority of your meals.
Through helping myself and my roommates cope with the difficulty of cooking and grocery shopping, I have finally accrued some basic tips to help us make it through the week without starving and/or spending our entire paychecks on food:
Simple is best.
I love an elaborate meal more than anything else, but as a beginning cook, don't get crazy. You might have seen this awesome Pinterest recipe that has this delicious raspberry icing and everything else on it, but remember that simple really is best.
You definitely don't have to splurge to have a tasty and healthy dinner.
Go browse recipes in cookbooks and online and pick ones that have short cooking times and easy ingredients, and then add them to your grocery list. And if you really want to try a more complicated recipe, don't cook it for a group of people or a first date. Instead try and make it once, and then if it's delicious, cook it again for other people.
Make a list of things to get at the store.
This is the most basic and obvious piece of advice in the cooking world, but it really does work.
It happens to the best of us – we all have the good intentions of making our list before we get to the store, but then we forget and when we arrive at the grocery store, we end up just wandering like a lost child from aisle to aisle, putting things in our cart that look good, eventually ending up with nothing that resembles ingredients that could make up a real meal.
Making a list will also help you remember the one precious item you always forget you need until you get home from the store. Make it easy on yourself and just put a list in your phone and add things to it as you think of them. That way, it's readily available whenever you and your roommates randomly decide to venture to the store.
Cook with others.
Having your friends around you always makes cooking infinitely better. If you end up messing up the recipe, then all of you can laugh about it together. It also makes the work load so much easier.
If you have everyone working on different parts of the meal at the same time, the food will be made that much faster, and it will be harder for carelessness to mess up the meal. Cook as a bonding activity, whether it's as a date or with your mom; there's just something about being in the kitchen and being able to casually talk with each other that makes it really memorable.
And remember, if all else fails, there's always Oscar's delivery.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at email@example.com.