I'm lucky enough to have an incredible family, all who live about 20 minutes away from me. We're almost constantly eating together. With five siblings, a brother-in-law and an adorable nephew, there's always commotion at the LeValley house—most of it around a buffet of food.

However, I understand that most college students may not be as lucky as I am. Some families are a short drive away, and others may be on the other side of the country. For those of you that identify with the latter, I think you know where to turn when you're missing your family: your best friends.

Cooking meals with the people you love most has so many physical and emotional benefits, so get up (after reading this article, of course), go grocery shopping, grab some tongs and get cooking.

You'll Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being

coffee, tea, beer
Beth LeValley

If you've ever ran home from a test, ranted to your roommate about how the professor "tried to trick you" (you swear!), then immediately felt better, you get this. Eating together forces you to talk—really talk—to the people you love.

Here, I'm spending hours with people that I don't get to see very often. The meal brings us together to update each other on our lives. Sharing your real emotions to people who will listen relieves stress and keeps friendships strong.

You'll Eat Healthier

bacon, pizza, chicken
Beth LeValley

Okay, so maybe these fried donuts (or these ones) don't prove that you always eat healthier while cooking at home—but for the most part, it's better than eating out every day. You're much more likely to choose correct portions sizes and add veggies to your meal while eating together with your loved ones.

You'll Try New Things

coffee, beer
Beth LeValley

Eating together at my house usually means me forcing my friends to try a new recipe, or choosing to eat out at a new restaurant. Here, I forced my friends to try a milkshake at Birdsall's in Mason City, Iowa. Most of the time, you'll realize that you love something you've never tried before.

You'll Get Better at Cooking

beer, cake
Beth LeValley

Cooking is like anything else—practice makes perfect. My first dozen times making pancakes (from a box, even), I could not get the consistency right. They were either too watery or too thick. While your first time making pancakes (like any of these) may turn into a burnt disaster, if you keep at it, you'll be making gourmet crepes in no time.

Your Grades Will Improve

Beth LeValley

Believe it or not, eating with your squad may make you as smart and successful as Gretchen Grundler. According to a University of Illinois study of 120 boys and girls ages seven to 11, children who do well on standard achievement tests were those that had consistent quality meal time with their families.

I don't mean to brag, but I grew up eating together with my family, and my elementary school teachers always told me I was the best at reading picture books.

You'll Save Money

cake, gingerbread
Beth LeValley

Eating out is expensive. Stop wasting your money on a nice tip, and start using that $20 for quality meat and produce. Split a tray of wings between three friends, like in this photo. Or, make some friends by organizing a floor potluck, where you can exchange a full meal for just a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

It's clear that spending 30 minutes three to four times a week with your closest friends and family can have huge benefits. Don't be scared to cook at home, whether that's the house where you grew up or your apartment on campus. And if you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that Spoon University is here to guide you to success.