College Cooking Series: Chapter 1 - Here We GO!

Moments after you receive your college acceptance letter(s), you start planning for the big move to campus. You start the shopping list: towels; extra-long twin sheets; coffee maker; hot pot; toaster oven; microwave; but, do you really need these items?

Many colleges and universities require freshman students to live on campus which typically means living in a dorm room and eating in the dining hall. If that is the case, then you won’t need much in the way of cooking equipment (which you won’t have room for anyway). In fact, many colleges prohibit small appliances in dorm rooms for safety reasons and will immediately confiscate any unauthorized items.

Once you are out of a cramped dorm room, you are most likely to be off the meal plan as well. While cooking meals for yourself may sound intimidating, it doesn't have to be hard or time consuming. The biggest “trick” to becoming a good cook is knowing how to read! If you can read directions on a package or a recipe, you are more than halfway to being a chef. Like everything else, practice makes perfect; the more you cook, the better you get at cooking.

There is no reason for you to eat ramen noodles every night, to fill your pantry with boxes of fluorescent orange mac and cheese, or to be on a first-name-basis with the pizza delivery guy. With the right tools and trusted standbys, cooking on your own can be done quickly, cheaply and, most importantly, can be healthy (or at least healthier.)

This is the first post in a weekly series geared specifically at high school seniors and college students preparing for apartment living. Over the next weeks, we will cover the appliances, pots and pans, and utensils you will need to set up your college kitchen. We will expound upon how to stock your cupboards, explain some fundamental cooking techniques, and even give you a few simple recipes to get you started on your way to sustaining yourself in a healthy and economical way. In the meantime, we have a homework assignment to get you thinking about learning to feed yourself.

Homework: Begin reading the food packaging of food items you frequently eat. Read the nutritional information and pay special attention to preparation instructions. Think about how you would prepare these dishes if you were on your own. Let us know in the comments, what meal you think you will cook the most at school.