When I first got into cooking, I was rocking some metaphorical training wheels hard. I tried to follow all recipes to a T and got very emotional whenever I forgot a step or a specific ingredient, which happened fairly often since I never read the recipe all the way through before starting it like a good cook. Now that I'm in college, my love for cooking can't manifest itself in this way anymore—I've got fewer resources, less money, and certainly less time. But surprisingly, these factors have all helped me become an even better cook.


Zoe Zaiss

Let's talk resources. Not only do I not have a car, but none of my roommates have one either. That means that if I want to go virtually anywhere in Austin, I've got to bus it, bike it, or beg one of my friends to drive me. Going to the grocery store has become a much bigger hassle than it was back home, where I lived across the street from one. If I forgot an ingredient, I sure as hell am not about to bike to the grocery store to get it—I'll make do with whatever I have

This difficulty in getting to the grocery store has changed how I do my grocery shopping as well. Because I'm only going to the grocery store once a week, I make that trip count. I stock up on foods that last for a long time, like potatoes, rice, beans, granola, frozen fruits, and veggies. The first few days after the trip I feel like a queen eating fresh veggies and chips and guac—that's all the freshness I get until the next week.

This lack of resources also influences what I choose to make. When looking at recipes, I used to pick anything that sounded good. Nowadays, I look for recipes that I a) already have the ingredients to, b) have the kitchen tools to make, and c) are relatively easy. When I spend the majority of my day Monday through Friday on campus, I don't have much time to spare for cooking a four-course meal.


spaghetti, pasta, vegetable
Nala Chehade

I'm willing to try things I definitely wouldn't have before college. If I'm out of brown sugar, I'll tap in coconut sugar. Not enough vegetable stock? It'll be fine. All the food I have is kale and chocolate chips? Sign me the hell up (for real though, it's a killer combo.) My standards for food are wildly lower than they used to be and I embrace that.



401(K) 2013 on Flickr

While I'm lucky enough for my parents to still cover my grocery budget, it is very much a budget. The grocery money I get for a month is all I'm getting that month, so I'm inclined to stay within that budget and even stay under it in order to have some pocket change. I'm not the typical broke college kid that's actually out of money when they say they are, I have lots of savings. But if I don't have to pay for myself to eat, I'm not going to.


Kitchen Timer

pasukaru76 on Flickr

Lastly, I don't have much free time. I'm taking 16 hours of classes and I'm an officer for two clubs, so I can't carve out two hours every day to cook and sit down to all my meals. This could have had a negative impact on my perception of cooking, because at times this year it really has been a hassle to cook to feed myself. But my cooking style has naturally adapted to college life, so it's remained something I really enjoy.

Despite the struggles all college students know, cooking can still be fun instead of a hassle. Play your cards right and these struggles will become assets that you can impress your friends with at the many cooking nights y'all will have together.