It's been a long day and you’re beyond tired and hungry. Instead of Snackpass, DoorDash, or greasy takeout that will leave you bloated after so many days of eating out, imagine having homemade food waiting for you. With a bit of planning and organization, you can become the college chef of your dreams. 

1. Shop Smart

Alishah Khan

You can't cook without ingredients. When going grocery shopping, it's crucial to have a plan and a budget so you don't get distracted or overspend. Staple foods like rice and pasta last for years, so stocking up will lighten the load for future grocery hauls and make sure you always have something to eat.

Another plan is to shop for frozen fruits and vegetables that last longer than their fresh counterparts while still providing all those nutritional benefits. You can also find fresh fruits and vegetables that come pre-cut and prewashed for even easier use.

Dry foods like pancake or cornbread mix are a way to save time on ingredient hunting and measuring, especially for quick cravings. They're also super versatile and can be used to make lots of baked goods—just add water!

2. Meal Plan and Prep

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One of the most annoying parts of cooking is prep work: washing, cutting, and measuring ingredients takes so much effort that I'd rather spend the time ordering takeout. To overcome those bouts of laziness, planning meals and prepping ingredients ahead of time is a college chef's best solution.

Make batches of your favorite foods over the weekend and store them in the fridge or freezer for quick meals. Pop a portioned plate in the microwave, throw it in a thermos, and you have a hot lunch ready for school—even when you're running late for your 8 am.

If you prefer meals hot off the stove, have all the ingredients cut, portioned, and stored in the fridge, ready to be quickly cooked whenever you need. 

3. Clean As You Work

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A big difference between ordering and cooking is the soul-crushing cleaning you need to do afterward. A trick for this is to make one-pot meals.

Since you now have all your favorite ingredients ready from the meal prep stage, toss them all into a big pot with a grain (rice, quinoa, pasta, couscous, the list goes on) and a liquid (water, broth, tomato sauce, cream—go wild). Cover it up to cook, and you have a delicious dinner with only one pot to scrub.

Also, make sure to clean as you cook! This way, you aren't left with a majority to do later and can enjoy your freshly cooked food in peace.

#SpoonTip: Check out for one-pot meal inspirations ranging from Pumpkin Pasta to Lemon Chicken!

Every now and then, it only makes sense to cry into a greasy slice of pizza instead of prepping and planning for meals. We're all busy students, so it's fair to not always have the time or energy to cook all out. But if you do, being organized and prepared is key to maximizing efficiency. It also doesn't hurt to feel like an adulting adult every now and then.