Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to dog-sit for a Macomb local and live in a house off-campus. This house has a kitchen, which means that for the first time in my life, at twenty-one years old, I have been responsible for making my own food to eat.
My friend Hailey has been helping me in my cooking adventures. I am absolutely new to cooking; she has a lot of experience with it. We started with a trip to the local Walmart, where we picked out simple vegetarian recipes to start our cooking lessons.
Each day this week we have tried a new recipe. We started simple: canned green beans and boxed mashed potatoes. Over the course of the week, we incorporated more complex recipes, including our most recent adventure, which was making pizza from scratch.
Learning how to cook over the past week has opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I can cook in the future and has also made me wish that I learned these skills a long time ago. By cooking, rather than eating food from the dining hall or ordering out, I have so much more control over the food that I am putting into my body, which will ultimately help me eat healthier. For example, using a substitute such as low-fat mayonnaise instead of regular mayonnaise while making grilled cheese can be an easy and barely noticeable change to make the dish slightly healthier. While these small substitutions may not make a big difference in overall health, they can add up if utilized in many different recipes. Additionally, as I continue to grow in my cooking skills, I will learn more healthy recipes to substitute out junk food more often!
Some of the most surprising things I have discovered while learning to cook include the low costs of cooking from home rather than eating out. On my grocery trip, I spent $80 on food for the week, which fed both myself and Hailey, and at the end of the week I still
had plenty of food left over for the following week. When I eat out, I typically spend about $5 on a meal. I believe this is less than most people spend while eating out, because vegetarian options are typically less expensive than meat options at restaurants. While cooking, Hailey and I averaged about $2.50 per meal for each of us, so we are essentially feeding two people for the cost of one.
Another surprise that I encountered in my cooking lessons was just how simple it is to prepare food at home. A lot of the options we discovered were able to be simply heated up from the can or box, so there were a lot less steps than I was expecting. I have always used not having enough free time as an excuse for not learning to cook, but this week I learned that there are lots of simple options that do not require a large time commitment to create. While more complex recipes might take more time to prepare, I
learned that cooking does not have to take up the entire day, as not every meal is as intensive as the ordinary Thanksgiving meal.
If there are any other college students in the same boat as I was, where you have no experience with cooking at all and do not know where to start, I highly recommend talking to a family member or friend who knows more about cooking and asking them for help! I have also heard that there are a lot of great tutorials on YouTube about cooking, which I hope to check out this summer. I plan to continue my cooking lessons with Hailey until I move home, and I have asked my grandma to help me in my free time this summer. Learning to cook will help tremendously with the transition from living on-campus to off-campus and ultimately life beyond college in the future.