Growing up, I cooked...a lot. Some of my earliest memories involve stirring sauce, flipping flapjacks, and making meatballs. From my first time cooking, I found the joy that it can bring, and if anything, my love of it has only grown since then. However, I also know that not everyone finds whisking cake batter as enticing as I do — although God knows why, especially when it results in buttery deliciousness like this bomb Hydrangea Cake.

For those people who, due to lack of either time, interest, or some other reason, never got into cooking at a young age, I imagine coming to college and having to cook for yourself for the first time must have been a rough transition. As this applies to quite a number of people I know, I decided to ask some real students about the first time they put the pedal to the medal — of their dorm stove. Here are their answers, which ranged from surprisingly successful to tragically hilarious, to just so college.

Lasagna (With Homemade Sauce)

sauce, lasagna, cheese
Sara Casagrand

I imagine the thought process for this one went something like, "Hey, it's just tomatoes, cheese, noodles, and some herbs and stuff right? How hard could it be?," before discovering the answer to that last question the hard way.

Actually, according to the chef in question, the lasagna itself was challenging, but not too big to tackle. It was the homemade sauce that she evidently, and not unsurprisingly, found slightly more difficult than Bobby Flay makes it look. To her credit, she completed the dish...multiple hours later, turning her dorm suite dinner into more of a very hearty midnight snack.

Cinnamon Bun French Toast

cake, pastry, sweet
Kristen Eisenhauer

This one surprised me, I'll be honest. I was expecting grilled cheese, pasta, maybe some cookies, but this girl decided to go big or go brunch-less. What was even more surprising than her choice was how successful she was with it, pulling it off without a hitch, although to be fair, she confessed to using a Tasty video as a guide.

Still though, I can't say whether I would have been able to make this even with a video my first time, and I'm sure she undoubtedly satisfied her hungover roommates. If you too want to be the Sunday morning hero of your friends, you might want to try one of these bad and boozy brunch recipes already waiting for you. Anyway, props to you girl, I hope the warm feeling of personal pride outweighed the post-Saturday night headache.

Chicken "Parmesan"

bread, milk, cheese, dairy product
Evan Vehslage

Honestly, this isn't a bad choice for a first dish: it's fairly easy, and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. Unfortunately for this poor soul and his roommate, they lacked both the small amount of ingredients you actually do need, and apparently the will to go buy them. The result was what I will call "Chicken Parmesan", despite its utter and frankly unforgivable lack of any Parmesan cheese, sauce, accompanying pasta, or breading on the chicken.

Basically they just melted a couple slices of good old American cheese on what I suspect was under-cooked chicken breasts and called it a day...or rather a meal. As a proud Italian, this one pained me to hear more than I can say, but according to the source of this culinary abomination, he and his roommate attempted this many more times, and now claim Chicken Parmesan as their signature dish for group dinners. Still, the next time I visit them, I think I'm going to stick to the sides.


ramen, corn, vegetable, soup
Evan Vehslage

We all knew this was coming. In the land of the broke and hungry, ramen is the king. It is the budget-saving, sodium-laden, delicious go-to solution to every midnight munchie binge or dinner dilemma.  Plus, once you've mastered the basics, it's super easy to dress it up all fancy and trick your friends into thinking you have hidden talents. To be honest, I asked a lot of friends to describe their first college meal, and if I had a nickel for every time the answer was ramen, I'd be paying off my student loans a lot faster.

So, to all you culinary holdouts, I hope this will encourage you to unlock your inner Food Network star, pick up a spatula, and approach the kitchen with reckless abandon. Your first dish might not be your best, but as these stories prove, it will definitely be memorable. Even if you just melt some cheese on a chicken breast, or accidentally spend three hours making one pasta dish, I promise that learning to cook is a choice you will never regret... just be sure to check the expiration date on that ramen.