Between classes and exams, college years are a pack of fun, but they aren’t exactly a byword for delicious food. With the bliss of mom’s cooking left back home, teen have to either settle for bland campus grubs or start cooking your own meals, which can be a tough task for a first-time uni-based chef. Fret not: cooking sprees in the dorm can get easier if you teach her/him a few cooking tricks.
These 5 tips below may just help set their culinary projects on the right and savory track:
1. Mind the Serving Size
Preparing meals in college usually means cooking for one, so your teen needs to adjust each recipe to the solo-cooking mode and use smaller utensils instead of mom’s military-sized pots. Solo-cooking will take less time than making a regular-sized four-course lunch, but if they don’t want to spend precious out-of-class time locked to the kitchen, your teen can stage cooking marathons on Sunday evenings and store extra batches of dorm-made meals in the freezer, and reheat them when need be.
2. Smart Cooking Tools
To minimize food prep time in college, your teen needs some smart cooking tools, but investments in low-quality appliances are an utter waste of a student’s money. Instead of stocking the dorm room kitchenette with a ton of second-rate kitchen utensils, you can buy an all-in-one appliance such as Kenwood’s food processor with multiple attachments: that way, you’ll save cash, reduce the spatial footprint of your kitchen gear, and you’ll also cut total meal prep time as he/she won’t have to go about dicing and slicing every ingredient by hand.
3. Clean Up Your Act
If your teen becomes like most college students, he/she will probably leave piles of dirty dishes lying around for days – but this is the easiest way to bust their cooking motivation and revert to the takeout mode. Doing the dishes after every meal is the way to go: that way, they’ll have all the gear needed ready at hand every time they feel like making themselves a delicious meal, and they’ll also prevent bacterial development in the overstocked dorm sink. Mom is right: cleanliness is half your health, and it’s also a shortcut to speedy meal prep.
4. Stick to Simplicity
Cooking doesn’t always stand for arm-long recipes and complex preparation procedures. Simple meals with two or three fresh veggies and some pasta are as delectable as those that involve dozens of ingredients and hours spent slaving at the worktop. For a nutritious lunch, have them practice how to make lightly boiled spaghetti with sauce made from steam-cooked vegetables: it’s both yummy and requires less than 15 minutes to make. Or, if he/she really loves cupcakes but lack the time and knowledge to make them, he/she can try the no-bake versions to simplify food prep even further.
5. A Multi-Task Chef
Are you really so short on time that you can’t make yourself a delicious meal? No, you aren’t. Your teen just needs to embrace the multitask chef mode. There’s no reason why he/she can’t bake a pie and cook a soup at the same time: it will allow you to cut food prep time and prepare meals for a few days’ savoring delight. Also teach them to try slow cooker recipes on weeknights when they need to study hard and can’t watch the pot for hours: throw in all the necessary ingredients and let the cooker do its magic so they can go about their dorm room business.
Cooking at college isn’t as complicated as it may sound: grab superior-quality kitchen appliances, get out the cook book, mix up meal prep with other items on your To Do list, stick to minimalist recipes, and don’t let dirty dishes pile up in the sink for days. Bon appétit!
Cristy is the founder and publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, as well as the co-CEO & partner of DiMe Media, based in Miami. Born to Cuban parents, she’s a ‘Jersey Girl’ who is the proud mom of twin teens and wife to her college sweetheart, a “gringo” with a Latino soul! Cristy is also a teen cancer survivor, lover of travel, tech, good food, all-things beauty related, family cooking and social sharing.