This weekend one of my housemates suggested that we have a roommate dinner and we would each cook a dish to share. My other housemate and I were more reluctant because the idea of choosing a recipe, walking to Safeway and actually cooking the recipe sounded like a lot of work for a Saturday evening.

However, we all managed to pull together a cohesive meal of Mongolian beef and chow mein with an asian salad. I have to say I am quite proud of us for making this happen and creating three dishes that actually tasted good. 

salad
Jillian Connolly

After our successful dinner, we all agreed that cooking and eating a meal together is a valuable and fun experience. Here are a few beneficial reasons why college students should make time for roommate dinners:

1. Experiment with new recipes

vegetable
Gabby Phi

I have about 5 go-to "recipes" (and by recipes I mean thrown together meals using the ingredients in the fridge that day) that I cycle through until I run out. Roommate dinners are a great opportunity to try out a recipe you found online and if the meal doesn't turn out the way you hoped, now you know. Maybe next time you could modify what didn't work for you. Your friends or roommates are not going to unfriend you for being a miserable cook (at least I would hope not). Our lovely Spoon writers have shared many approachable and affordable recipes to choose from, like this one.

Also, one of my housemates admitted that "food envy is a real thing" as my other housemate and I watched him begrudgingly eat his "tortellini salad" for the fifth day in a row. Family dinners encouraged him to venture away from the beloved tortellini salad recipe.

2. Improve your cooking skills

cream, chocolate, candy, sweet, cake
Emma Delaney

When you're just cooking for yourself, you can't be bothered to to use a recipe that requires you to julienne carrots and simmer various condiments in a sauce pan in order to make an overly complicated sauce to pair with your roasted chicken. You don't need to go all "Top Chef" but just by experimenting with different ingredients you can learn so many valuable cooking skills.

3. Bond with your Roommates

tea, wine, coffee, beer
Jocelyn Hsu

When my housemates and I cook individually, some are finishing their meal while others are just starting to eat and we end up eating while distracted by our phones or computers. With our busy schedules, having dinner at the same time gave us a chance to actually hang out all together and talk about our day.

4. Learn from your Roommates

vegetable, meatball, pork, beef, meat
Rachel Davis

Maybe your roommate cooked a dish that you really liked. Maybe they cooked something you really didn't like. Either way this is a great chance to explore new foods, skills and recipes that you might try (or not try) in the future. Expand your recipe repertoire and ask your roommate about the vegetarian stir-fry you really enjoyed. 

Even though no one in my house is a master chef, cooking together forced us to be more adventurous and we found ourselves interested in how one another prepared or combined certain ingredients to create their dish. 

5. Treat Yourself

basil, cheese, parsley, meat, sauce, vegetable, tomato
Hui Lin

Roommate dinners are a chance to cook something completely new. So go for that fried chicken, homemade pizza or an eclectic chocolate cake you never knew you needed to try. The calories don't count when you cook it yourself, right??

Some other tips to a successful Roommate Dinner:

-Decide on an ethnicity or type of food you would like to eat

-Divide up who will cook the protein (meat, fish, tofu, etc.), a veggie dish, a starch, and maybe even a dessert.

-If you and your group have conflicting evening schedules, consider planning brunch on the weekends, because brunch is always a good idea and requires a little less planning.

So if you're an avid cooker or someone who lives off quesadillas and mac and cheese because you can't cook anything else, consider implementing a roommate dinner or brunch because you can learn a lot from these lovely people.