I can do some pretty amazing things in the kitchen... like managing to burn eggs every time I try to cook them and setting Ramen on fire (that was years ago, okay?). As an off-campus living "adult", senior year was my time to get my culinary ish together. 

I wish I could say that my cooking skills have evolved to match those of a professional chef, but that's just not the case. However I have found ways to work around my culinary mishaps, mostly with the help of these hacks.

1. Invest in a George Foreman Grill

toast, pastry, cake, bread, sweet, french toast, butter, grilled cheese sandwich
Laura Palladino

Randomly investing in a George Forman was the best thing that I could have done for my sanity. I quite literally use it every night for dinner, working my way up from grilled cheese to grilling a few turkey burgers, to sizzling some zucchini, and eventually integrating some newly adopted stir-fry skills to make a killer chicken black bean quesadilla. My little red grill has become a dinner staple and I can make my meals as complex or simple as I want. Highly recommend.

2. Don't Completely Ditch Your Meal Plan

wheat, nut, milk, sweet, corn, granola, muesli, cereal
Nikki D'Ambrosio

Instead of putting pressure on yourself to make the perfect meal that adequately satisfies you until you're not hungry, try to incorporate some parts of your meal plan into your dinner. Instead of buying an extensive meal plan or ditching it altogether, sign up for the lowest level. When I'm leaving the gym, I'll grab a smoothie or açaí bowl on my meal plan and make myself something small at home. This puts less pressure on me, while I still feel like I'm cooking for myself.

3. Pre-Sliced Vegetables are Your New Best Friend

pasta, salad
Photo courtesy of Cooking Simplified

Yes, they're a bit more expensive, but they're also 100% worth it. Most of the time I don't have the patience or hand-eye coordination to chop up all of my own vegetables, so I find myself gravitating toward the prepared foods section of the grocery store (everywhere from Stop & Shop to Whole Foods has this section). Buying pre-sliced veggies saves you time and effort, and allows you to work some healthier ingredients into your diet until you're comfortable enough to prepare them on your own (or just keep buying them pre-sliced, like me). 

4. Frozen Food is Also Your New Best Friend

sweet, candy
Kendall Sangster

No, by frozen food I definitely don't mean microwaveable meals. Frozen food is super helpful for those of us who aren't the best planners. I'm generally not the type to put a lot of thought into my meals for the week, so instead of buying fresh fruit or vegetables and slowly watching it mold while I don't use it, I started investing in bags of frozen fruit that I can throw into my NutriBullet when I want a smoothie.

The same goes for meat: frozen meat can last for months to years in your freezer, so as long as you're willing to defrost it in the morning, you're good to go.

5. Advanced Meal Prep is a Life Changer

broccoli, garlic, salad
Tiare Brown

There are tons of step-by-step tutorials for advanced meal prep, with everything from vegan to paleo options. By making a set plan to prepare your meals in advance, you can cut down on grocery costs and the number of trips you take to the store in general. A lot of these meal plans help you to reuse ingredients so you're not wasting food or money. Sometimes it's helpful to have someone give you the exact steps to create a meal without having to figure it out on your own

Adulthood is hard in its own right, but cooking doesn't have to make it harder. Through using these tips and a little bit of practice on your own time, you might not make it to Top Chef material, but you'll be close.