Since I came to Virginia Tech, I’ve had four roommates in four years. When I met them, two of them could cook. The other two were a mess in the kitchen. Which is not surprising – about 28 percent of Americans can’t cook. Cooking is a skill I thought most people had, but I’ve found that it is one many students my age commonly lack.

People cook less and less. As we focus on getting everyone into the working world, we’ve forgotten to do one thing. We have overlooked one of the most basic, fundamental skills someone can have for leading a healthy and successful life.

We forgot to teach them to cook.


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I got lucky – my parents taught me to cook from a young age despite them both being in the workforce. It was one of my chores to cook dinner when I was in high school and when I go home for extended periods of time, I’m still expected to cook.

And I’m thankful to this day my parents taught me the basics. Because of their expertise, I was able to expand to a larger repertoire of dishes and techniques.  Thanks to them, I don’t have to depend on a recipe and I can just whip up something whenever I want.

But you have got to have foods you can make to bond with your roommate. After all, nothing brings people together like food.

1. Mac and Cheese

Photo by Amanda Shulman

Okay, obviously this is my go to dish to make with people. It’s full of carbs and cheesy. Who doesn’t love that? I eat it even though I’m lactose intolerant. The great thing is you and your roommate can tailor this dish to what you guys like by changing the cheese or adding spices and toppings. I recommend using Colby Jack.

But if you’re worried about the calories and want to be healthy, we got you. Check out this healthy version.

2. Sriracha Bacon Burger

Photo by Kirby Barth

So I’m a bit of a carnivore. Any way I can add more meat to a dish without compromising taste is a win in my book. Add some hot sauce and I’m in love. Not to sound too southern, but no processed burger you buy at the supermarket can beat a homemade burger.

Of course, there are vegetarian-friendly options but you may want to try making our version of the famous ramen burger instead.

3. Pizza

Photo by Jay Park

There was no way pizza was not going make this list. It’s the food of drunk nights with your roommate and can be served in a variety of ways. You can even go gluten-free if you need to.

If you’re feeling lazy, you can always go the easy route and get a frozen pizza. Just don’t be so drunk you cook the pizza then put it back in the box and into the freezer.

4. Rainbow Bagel

Photo by Angela Pizzimenti

Who wouldn’t want to make the rainbow bagel? I mean, it’s gorgeous and watching it being made is fascinating. I’ve got plans to make this bagel with a friend. Besides, who doesn’t like an awesome homemade bagel? So worth it. I personally want to try them with cookie dough cream cheese.

But if you like your bagels more savory and not so sweet (you’re seriously missing out though), there’s always the option of making an everything bagel.

5. Cookie Shots

Photo by Helena Lin

The famous cookie shot by Dominique Ansel. Such yum. Edible shots are amazing, but ddessert ones are even better. My roommate next year and I will probably be making these as the first official homemade dessert when we move into our new apartment.

There are loads of edible shot glasses you can make, but I’m partial to marshmallow ones.

6. Nachos

Photo by Phoebe Melnick

These breakfast nachos are fantastic for hangovers. So, if you or your roommate are hungover it’ll be the best dish you could make with your roomie that day. Maybe even that entire week. Either way, nachos are great bonding food.

Also, dessert nachos are amazing and I just want to eat all the cookies with frosting as a dip.

7. Cookies

Photo by Mimi Takano

The almighty cookie, which is amazing for an icebreaker and developing friendships. I’ve used it to bond with a former roommate among other people. Fresh baked cookies are amazing and make everything better.

You can definitely use these as a way to cheer up your roommate if something bad ever happens, too. When that’s the case, I’d recommend cheesecake Oreo cookies.

8. Pancakes

Photo by Alex Furuya

Oh my god. Pancakes. The breakfast of champions. Versatile and easy to make; perfect to make with your roommate since it’s pretty hard to mess them up. You can even make a sundae with them. Whoever thought of adding sweet and savory yummy extras to this breakfast staple is seriously a culinary hero.

Besides, some of my best conversations with my roommates have been over breakfast. You should see if that will happen for you.

9. Buffalo Wings

Photo by Kelda Baljon

The stereotypical Super Bowl food, wings are a treat and a half. There’s so many ways to make them and coat them in a variety of sauces depending on how much of your face you want to melt off with the heat.

Be sure to check out how to make them make them with RedBull if you’re not into the boneless variety.

10. Cheesecake

Photo by Kavitha George

Cheesecake: a dish I’m cursed not to eat unless I want to deal with my lactose intolerance rearing its ugly head. The great thing about cheesecake is there are multiple ways to make it, so the amount of time it takes to prepare and chill will depend on what method you use.

One of the things you can do is make it a cheesecake shooter, which is yummy. You can even make a gluten-free version if you want.

11. Paninis

Photo by Tarika Narain

I typically associate paninis with Panera, but having my own panini press means and I can make warm sandwiches at home and not pay for an overpriced sandwich at a national chain.

Making paninis with your roommate is a fun activity because you can try out all sorts of different ingredient combinations. They’re even good for dessert.

12. Puff Pastry Wrapped Baked Brie

Photo by Charles Wetherbee

Almost every cheese lover has an obsession with brie. You know, once you get past the phase where it smells weird and you’re not sure if you really want to eat it…and then later when you finally get to the stage where you start baking your brie? Magnifique.

We here at Spoon like to bake our brie with jam and puff pastry dough. Make sure you give our recipe a spin.

13. Ice Cream Sandwiches

Photo by Bernard Wen

The wonderful thing about ice cream sandwiches is their versatility. They’re perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth on a minute’s notice and you can make them with just about any dessert that won’t crumble when you pick it up. I like making it with chocolate chip cookies and raspberry ice cream.

If it’s fall and you’re feeling a little basic, be sure to try out our snickerdoodle and pumpkin ice cream sandwiches.

14. Waffles

Photo by Phoebe Melnick

As any Parks and Rec fan knows, “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” Thank you Leslie Knope for telling the truth. Waffles are an amazing way to create everlasting bonds. Like Leslie and Ann’s.

Make gourmet waffles with your roommate and top them with heaps of whip cream and other yummy stuff. Or make donut waffles. Those are perfection.

15. Pretzels

Photo by Jenny Shen

Pretzels are one of the things my sister and I used to make when we were younger. It ended up being a good bonding activity as we had to make the dough, roll it, shape the pretzels, bake, and then coat them in whatever we were going to try that day.

This is great to try with your roommate, you can judge them on their taste in pretzels. Or just stuff your pretzels with cookie dough. Up to you.

16. Milkshakes

Photo by Jayna Goldstein

Fun fact, the Black Tap milkshakes that everyone’s obsessed with are based on “Freakshow shakes” that originated at Pâtissez in Australia almost a year ago, but we never give that café any credit (seriously though, they’re amazing). That doesn’t stop them from being so good that you need to recreate them.

However, these milkshakes topped with an insane amount of stuff aren’t for everyone. So, if this is a little too out of your palate make a simple one, pimp it up with your roommate, and turn on some Netflix to bond over on the couch.

17. Dumplings

Photo by Benjamin Martin

Dumplings have always meant family to me. Maybe it’s because I’m half Taiwanese, maybe because my mom taught me to make dumplings when I was seven. Who knows? What I do know is that dumplings are a great recipe to bond over because the process takes time but doesn’t require much concentration.

There’s even recipes that are super easy if neither of you has any experience.

18. Truffles

Photo by Katherine Baker

Who doesn’t love truffles (besides the heathens who don’t like chocolate)? I do. Truffles are super easy to make, the biggest difficulty is coating them, which is just a technical issue. There’s so much you can use to make truffles, from cookies to your favorite cereals.

When it’s Girl Scout cookie season, you should definitely try these thin mint cookie truffles. They’re more addicting than anything.

19. Donuts

Photo by Annie Madole

I love donuts. So much. I’m always craving them when I wake up, and sometimes I’m tempted to make a road trip to the nearest donut shop. At times, however, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Creme just don’t cut it. You have to try making your own donuts – it’s not as hard as you’d think and you can end up with legendary donuts that are even better than what you could buy.

And you can always double glaze them so you can get all the sweetness you crave.

Now go forth to cook, eat, and bond with your roommate. You’ve got plenty of recipes in your arsenal to do so.