August 14 2015 – Meghan Ferrin
If you have a son or daughter who happens to be heading to college for the first time, you’re probably full of apprehension the least of which will be how they’ll handle cooking on their own. While you don’t have to be a professional chef to make a nutritious home-cooked meal, you do need to know some basics.
It’s a lot easier to cook for yourself instead of going out for dinner. The average meal in a restaurant costs $12 to $15 while cooking at home averages about $4. First off, your student will want to stock some basics in their pantry to have on hand: flour, eggs, milk, butter, oil, dry pasta, and rice are great staple items to keep around. Basic spices like salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and oregano are great to have to season any dish. Many experts also recommend Old Bay Seasoning as it can be used to spice up many dishes, not just seafood.
For those who live alone, cooking for one can often be overwhelming. But a great piece of equipment to make things easier is a slow cooker. Slow cookers are relatively inexpensive and make a great addition to an apartment: they don’t take up much room and aren’t a fire hazard. Your student can simply place all the ingredients in the slow cooker and the meal will be ready by the time they arrive home after classes. Another good tool to have around is an immersion blender. It takes up less space than a regular sized blender and can be used to make protein shakes, salad dressing, and even pesto. Other equipment to consider will be a toaster oven and a rice cooker. You’ll also want to make sure that your student has a set of good quality knives including a paring knife, an all-purpose chef’s knife, and a serrated knife for slicing bread.
Grocery shopping can also be an intimidating experience for someone who’s never had to shop alone before. Take some time out before your child goes off to college to point out how to pick out vegetables and fruits. Stocking up at the beginning of the week will make it easier and cheaper to prepare lunches and dinners. Make sure your student knows that shortcuts are available from vegetables that can be steamed in a microwave to chicken cutlets that are already trimmed and cut. Cooking can be quite enjoyable as well as a money-saver, if your student knows the basics!
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