College Cooking 101

One of my biggest fears about moving into an apartment was having to cook for myself every day. For the past 20 years of my life I’ve been very lucky to have parents who love making delicious and healthy meals. Before college, I didn’t go a day without a homecooked meal.

When I lived in the dorms freshmen year, I had the luxury of going to the dining hall downstairs. Although sometimes unhealthy, it was always full of options and different varieties of fruits and vegetables.

My sophomore year in the sorority house was even more of a treat because we had chefs who took meal suggestions from us. They used fresh, local produce and gave us a lot of healthy options.

So when I was faced with the challenge of cooking my first meal at school, I panicked and headed toward the restaurants on Green Street. I wasn’t proud of my moment of weakness because I had vowed to not waste all of my money on food this year. So I started with the basics: eggs, pasta, and sandwiches. Slowly, I started find ways to make cooking an enjoyable process, here’s how:

1) Cook with friends! There’s nothing better than having a “family dinner” night when you’re sick of cooking for yourself. You can either pick up fresh produce from the grocery store or just pool together whatever your friends have in their fridge. You can really get creative here. We’ve made pizzas, garlic bread, breaded chicken, and diced potatoes. Everything’s better with company, and cooking is no exception.

2) Make a lot of food! If you’re already going to be boiling pasta, you might as well just throw in the whole box. Eat a portion of it and save the rest for later. This means that cooking one time can last you for a few meals. You can even vary the pasta sauce for different meals so you don’t get sick of the food.

3) Add vegetables in everything. It’s easy to forget to have a balanced and nutritious meal, so I try to put vegetables in every meal I can. If I’m making a sandwich, I’ll throw in tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. If I’m heating up pasta sauce I’ll throw in diced tomatoes, sauteed onions, and garlic. For my sides I’ll have some cucumbers or celery with ranch. It’s simple to do and makes the meal taste better!

4) Healthy snacks. Since we’re always on the run and sometimes too busy to cook, it’s important to have snacks readily available. Whether that’s yogurt, chips & salsa, or an apple, it’s good to have healthy choices available. If I find myself really hungry after a long day of class, it’s tempting to grab food from a restaurant. But if I snack a little, I can keep the hunger at bay and find the energy to cook. It’s also great to snack in between meals so you’re not starving by the time lunch and dinner roll around.

Here’s some of my homecooked meals: happy cooking!



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October 22, 2011, 11:56 pm

does univeristy of illinois offer cooking classes? i think that would be something i would enjoy.



October 24, 2011, 4:45 pm


I’m glad you’re interested in cooking, it’s a great skill to start acquiring early on. U of I does offer some cooking classes at the ARC:
I believe there are also RSOs that focus on cooking. Good luck!




November 26, 2011, 7:26 am

Well Alice, let me tell you that those pics of meals you have prepared tell me one thing.
Either you went out and bought them from restaurant so that you could photograph them. Lol Or you have really learnt to cook amazingly well because the pics had my mouth watering.
Just kidding about the restaurant.Lol




November 29, 2011, 12:43 am


The best part about these delicious meals is that they were so easy to make! Thanks for reading!