Congratulations are in order. You made it through the fall semester. If you’re a college freshman, then these past four months have been a major transition.

Living independently allowed you to acquire newfound freedom, especially regarding what and how you eat. And after this semester, and possibly 15 extra pounds, you definitely had a hankering for something unique to your home that your school's dining hall just could not satisfy.

Here are 10 things college students miss while away at school.

1. Eating home cooked meals.

As if this wasn’t obvious enough. The food you’ve been eating in your university’s dining hall does not even compare to the food you can eat while in your family's humble abode. Whether it's your Italian family’s famous red sauce or your Jewish grandmother’s matzah ball soup, there is always a dish or two on your mind as you peruse the dining hall buffet line.

There is something about eating a meal that is prepared and cooked in your own home that is so comforting, making it taste all the better.

2. Not embarking on a trek to the dining hall.

If you attend a college up north like I do, then you understand the struggle of contemplating what coat to wear before undertaking a hike up to the dining hall… And then wishing you grabbed a hat, scarf, and pair of gloves on the way up there. Snow, sleet or hail, the seemingly endless march up to dinner is never an exceptionally pleasant one with temperatures dropping below 0, making you question whether microwaveable ramen in your dorm room is a better alternative. 

Now that you’re home, eating will not require wardrobe decisions of any kind. Barefoot in pajamas is deemed acceptable.

3. Cooking.

Whether you actually utilize the kitchen in your dorm’s building (I've only seen glimpses of mine in passing), or you have become a pro at creating microwaveable meals, you can’t argue that these experiences equate to actual cooking.

At home, everything seems so much more accessible, but in college, there’s no guarantee that you will have some basil and oregano handy to season whatever dorm room concoction you create.

So when you're home, preheat your oven to 350 and whip something up simply because the ingredients will be at your fingertips.

4. Knowing exactly what's in your food.

While your school's dining hall may put out small display signs showing nutritional information and the ingredients that comprise the food, there can be the occasional, yet disconcerting question: “Wait. What exactly is in this?”

At home, you know what you are eating. No questions asked.

5. Feeling full.

I don’t know what it was, but this past semester, I always felt hungry after eating meals in the dining hall. Despite the amount of attention I paid toward eating something substantial, I was still snacking on empty calories up until an hour before going to bed.

At home, I can eat a meal and feel full… At least for the next couple of hours.

6. Not working meals in around a study schedule.

As college students try to manage their time between attending classes, studying, writing papers and participating in activities, eating needs to be squeezed in there, too, right?

Now that the schoolwork has subsided and as winter break is well underway, you can eat meals when you want, as opposed to fitting them in before your evening communications lecture, or after finishing your final paper.

7. Eating healthier.

Despite the salad bar your school advertises as its “healthy option,” sometimes, it appears as though pasta and french fries are your only option. Fresh fruit may as well be an endangered species.

When I get home from school, I welcome the fruit in my refrigerator back into my life as if they're old friends I want to catch up with. Fresh fruit is a hot commodity in the college world, so upon returning home, I suggest giving your produce a warm welcome and taking advantage of their availability.

8. Variety. Variety. Variety.

Does Tuesday’s lunch vaguely remind you of Monday’s dinner? Probably. While leftovers are still a thing at home (as they should be, why throw away perfectly good food?), this becomes even more obvious while living at college.

One thing I've noticed in particular is that chicken with any form of seasoning becomes “Cuban chicken” on Monday, “Ecuadorean chicken” on Tuesday and “Argentinian chicken” on Wednesday. While I appreciate the attempt at menu variation, at times, it tastes oddly monotonous.

During final exams week, the only thing that gets me through those five days is the thought of eating at my favorite spots that serve the food they say they do, true to their culinary origins.

9. Not worrying about “swipes.”

I remember going out to breakfast with one of my friends during my first week of college and thinking to myself, “Oh no, I only have 14 meal swipes a week.” Dining hall breakfast could not become a regular part of my routine if I planned on eating lunch and dinner on campus. And while I was perfectly okay with eating cereal in my dorm room before my morning classes, being cognizant of the amount of meal swipes I used was never on my mind prior to attending college. Why would it have been?

I couldn't stop in the dining hall to grab an apple unless I wanted a swipe deducted from my week's worth of meals.

My advice for those who struggle with their meal plan is to plan ahead. Even if you aren't craving a banana as you are leaving the dining hall, load up your pockets because you will at some point that week. 

This does not pertain to those with unlimited meal plans, however. If you have this plan, enjoy it. But, when you’re at home, enter and exit the kitchen as you please. You have nothing to lose.

10. Pizza and bagels.

Every state has a specific food they do best. Idaho has its potatoes. Maryland has its crabs. New Jersey (and New York) have their pizza and bagels. As a Jersey girl myself, I did not so much as lay my eyes on a slice of pizza served in the dining hall. Frozen pizza is not the same as pizza from a pizzeria and frozen bagels that you can heat up in the microwave should not even be legal.

While I am lucky enough have a bagel shop in my college's town that satisfies my fix (hey, CTB), many of my Jersey friends who attend schools all over the country apprised me of the bagel-shaped hole in their heart that their college’s bagels cannot fill.

Now that you are home, revel in your home cooked meals and frequent your favorite eateries because as I have come to learn, you never know how much you miss something until it is gone. I know what I'm on the prowl for over my winter breaks. J-Law said it best: