Monday, January 13, 2014

College and Food

For those interested in what I recommend, please scroll down to the bottom.
This is a post I'm pulling from my Tumblr, now with a few updates!  It was one of my first posts, and was about something I think most people enjoy: Food.
Now that my college career is slowly coming to a close (and by slowly I of course mean there is a year left), I feel like I’m in a pretty good place to give tips about ways to prepare for college.  One big thing that I wish I had thought more about was cooking. I’m not talking about simple things (Like sandwich combinations, or how to cook a simple piece of chicken).  I’m talking more about things like how to make mint chocolate chip cookies, or tacos with various spices, or the amazing breakfast of cinnamon honey waffles.

At first glance, most of these sound like a lot of time for very little output, when in reality, they can make your college experience incredible, and be very worth the small amount of time.  Take for example the waffles: With the right ingredients and equipment, you can make several of these in about 15 minutes.  This is incredibly nice since it means you won’t have to wake up super early just to get them started.  The best part?  You can buy the ingredients in bulk, which can make them super cheap. You can even save them for later if you have a fridge!  In fact, all of what I mentioned above can be saved for later!  Another great food that you can keep for a while: Cookies.  What college student doesn't like cookies? Actually, don't answer that, as I have met people who don't like cookies.  Tacos though?  Super simple, but done right, you can have dinner for at least a few days after as well. The time spent from doing all of this is incredible, since warming up food is super easy compared to cooking it!
So why even mention all of this?  Because the biggest thing is getting the tools to make them! Knowing what they are ahead of time can really help!  Here’s a list of things I recommend having for cooking when you go off to college:
  • A Waffle Iron - Of all the things I know I skip out on, breakfast is the biggest one (Next to sleep).  A waffle iron (Especially the right one) can provide a huge fix to this however.  The one that I got from Costco specifically is perfect.  The waffles are done within a matter of minutes (Don’t try to un-pause your morning cartoons, they'll be finished before you even sit down), and the warming up process is done before I can even finishing mixing the ingredients!  Which brings us to…
  • A Costco Membership (Or other Wholesale Store Membership) - I know, I didn't say ingredients.  The reason I put this is because most foods can be bought in huge bulk from places like Costco.  One thing that I went ahead and did was buy a box of some simple waffle mix, and various spices to mix in.  The result has been everything from cinnamon waffles to honey waffles to chocolate chip waffles to mint waffles (which were actually pretty good).  There’s a huge list of things you can do with this, and the prices are usually not bad at all!
  • Pots, Pans, Plates, Cups, and Silverware (Not paper!) - The reason I say not paper: Using the wholesale store membership from above, you can buy soap and just hand-wash them to save a ton of money.  Yeah, it’ll take another 5-10 minutes to clean them if you don’t have a dishwasher, but it’s worth it for the cost.  It’s an entire group of things off your grocery list!
  • The above but as paper versions - I know, I seem to be backtracking, but there’s a reason!  If you have lots of guest over, washing dishes can be a pain, and can end up taking a ton more time than needed.  In this case, paper versions are perfect!  Using the wholesale store membership, you can buy these in bulk as well, and because you aren't having to wash them, you’ll end up saving a ton of time, and money because you won’t be using them as much (If you don’t don’t have people over 24/7).
  • Spices - As far as actual food ingredients go, this is by far one of the most important.  By having a stash of spices ready to go, you can add a ton of variations to simple foods, and make them much more incredible.  A simple example: A chicken breast.  By combining the right spices, you can make this simple meal go from awful to amazing without adding any extra time.  Adding a breading to the mix is also very easy, and allows for the meal to look more incredible then it really is!
  • Baking Supplies - This is by far one of the best things to have.  Being able to make some simple cookies at any point is amazing, and this also plays back to the spices as well.  You can use these to add a ton of variations to otherwise simple foods (Orange and white chocolate chip cookies anyone?)
*Note that some schools might not have kitchens available to freshmen.  If that’s the case though, consider it for the years after, as these things will still be helpful then!
Maybe most of these are super obvious, but just in case, I’ll leave this here for everyone to ponder on.  Have better ideas? Post them below, as I would love to hear them!