by Katie Voitik
Sadly, the thing I was worried the most about this summer was not living in a different area of campus, not being on my floor anymore, or having harder classes: it was learning to cook now that I live in an apartment.
I now reside in the on-campus apartments in Frederiksen Court, and it was quite a change going from my super social Honors floor where there was no such thing as a closed door to the peaceful, less-crazy atmosphere of an apartment. For the most part, I’m loving it. I still see all my friends, and I get my own room! Cooking, though? Yeah, not a chance. I’m a terrible cook. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t want to try! Over the summer, my grandma bought me a ton of cookware as a birthday present and a cookbook. Despite what everyone thought, I’ve actually attempted a few recipes and succeeded. I made a sauceless pasta, French toast, and more. So through my experiences learning how to be a master chef (just kidding. Really), here are some tips:
1) Plan ahead. I still don’t have a car, so I have to decide what recipes I’m making for that week way ahead of time and get the ingredients the few times I go to the store.
2) Get a meal plan as a backup. I don’t have a ton of time to make lunch during the week so I’ll meet up with a few friends and go to the MU. Also, when I want to spend time with my friends we will go to dinner at the UDCC to hang out. Naturally I try to eat more in my apartment, but I’m thankful for having a block plan and dining dollars because Hawthorne (the dining center in Frederiksen Court) sells bread, milk, eggs, and all sorts of apartment cooking things.
3) Make a party out of it. Get friends together, have them pitch in some money, figure out what you want to make, buy stuff, and have a huge dinner party! As I’m writing this, I just got done eating a delicious dinner of crockpot pulled pork, rice, and pumpkin pie that we all made from scratch for today with a few of my good friends. I even got up early to prepare the pork in the crockpot, and my apartment smelled amazing all day. We watched a movie and enjoyed our awesome cooking, and I learned a lot! I even baked the pumpkin pie myself!
4) Eating quickly is not a bad thing. So maybe you have a dream of becoming the next Gordon Ramsay, but the reality of apartment cooking is this: you are a college student. You don’t have much money. You don’t have much time. In between homework and meetings and study groups, you might have maybe an hour for dinner. So that’s when you break out the pasta or mac ‘n cheese and make a quick dinner. I do this a lot during the week. Normally, I don’t try anything fancy until the weekend. You can spice it up with different veggies or spices (I’m a fan of putting chili and garlic powder in my spaghetti sauce) if you think your cooking is boring.
5) Experiment and learn! I’ve experimented so much with my spaghetti recipe that I have fun coming up with different ways to make the sauce! When my friend came over to make dinner, I made sure I paid attention to what he was doing so I could do it later. Following a recipe exactly is good, but it’s more fun to do trial and error. Who knows, maybe you might come up with a great recipe that will become a staple in your family for years.
So there you have it: Cooking At College 101. For all those in the dorms, don’t worry. Your time in an apartment will come. For those who are, have fun cooking! Take it from me, it’s not as scary as it seems.