Two crepes are visible on a plate, along with a bowl of blueberries and some tea in this photo by University of Massachusetts student Frantz Lamarre
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Cooking in College Isn't About Just Eating

The culinary aspect of college living is seldom discussed, leaving many prospective students blindsided when it comes to not relying on anyone to feed them. I can firmly attest to this; it is a rough transition — only amplified by the drastic difference between home-cooked meals and cheap pasta from the grocery store.

Cooking Off-Campus

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Cooking tools and supplies like milk, eggs, and vanilla are visible in this photo by University of Massachusetts student Frantz Lamarre

As a transfer student from UMass Lowell to UMass Amherst during 2020, I had the unique experience of spending my first year as a Minuteman off-campus and in pure isolation. At the height of the pandemic, simple tasks like going to the grocery store were met with an element of fear and hysteria — due in part to shortages of certain goods. To make up for this, grocery delivery services were my go-to; no longer did I have to leave the comfort and safety of my one-bedroom and deal with lengthy queues at the stores. This brings us to the present day; as a former (and I hope it stays that way) off-campus student, I highly recommend using these sorts of services, specifically for those that do not have access to reliable transportation. The convenience they provide is unparalleled.

Cooking in the Dorms

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An unopened egg sits in a mixing bowl with a mixing whisk visible behind it in this photo by University of Massachusetts student Frantz Lamarre

This is where things become complicated, so it’s best to pay attention. Do not be scared of the kitchen. You know how to use a stove. The main difficulty often comes with the notion that people our age do not cook with much care and attentiveness. That can often be the source of several fire alarms at hilariously inconvenient moments.

Watch the stove. Cooking in the dorms brings an extra level of responsibility; remember, it’s not just you in that building.

Clean up. Upkeep in the kitchen is of utmost importance. Doing so will result in a sanitary environment that all residents can use. Cleaning up counts as personal dishes and cutlery, food scraps and leftovers, and if you’re considerate enough, the sink.

Clear out the fridge. Please do not leave food in the fridge for too long. I learned this the hard way when my pan pizza I left in there for three weeks started to produce gag-inducing mold. It seriously smelled like a crime scene in there, and I was the perpetrator. It’s also respectful to the other residents — as fridge space is often limited in communal kitchens.

Now let me put you on game. I don’t usually do this very often, but I can make an exception for this occasion. Here are some of my favorite recipes I’ve made in college — on and off-campus.

Crispy & Spiced Garbanzo Beans

These are a great source of protein and are very versatile, capable of serving as a snack, or an addition to a salad or any type of meal. You can never go wrong with garbanzo beans.

 

Overnight Oats

So perfect for the late-night student that thinks ahead. The morning is often rushed, and having a healthy and filling breakfast could take a bit of time to make. Overnight oats completely negate that struggle. As the video mentions, there are a multitude of ingredients you can use in overnight oats, meaning that you can tailor it entirely to your liking.

 

Shakshuka

By far, my favorite meal to make from the three mentioned is shakshuka, a popular and simple Middle Eastern dish consisting of tomato sauce, peppers, onions, eggs, and spices. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also fills the air with a beautiful aroma while it’s made. Shakshuka is not just a dish; it is an experience. This video single-handedly fed me during lockdown last year.

 

Cook With Love

Adjusting to life away from mom’s cooking will always be a distressing endeavor. Oftentimes what you make may not taste the same, but it is essential to remember to cook with love and respect; for those around you and for yourself. Crucially, remember to honor the space you share with your fellow residents; they need it as much as you do. When it comes to living off-campus, the transition is even more complex, so grocery deliveries can constitute the backbone of your culinary experience. It may be confusing at first, but through the passage of time, we can all unlock our inner Gordon Ramsay.