Since returning from winter break, my friends and I have begun the tradition of meeting up at a mutual friend’s apartment on Sundays and making a big “family-style” dinner.
All my close friends and I live in the dorms on campus, so we are well accustomed to dining hall cuisine and hardly ever have the opportunity to cook (unless you count making instant oatmeal in our microwave).
At first, I was skeptical of the idea of all my friends cooking a meal together; I’m confident about my own cooking abilities but I wasn’t sure how comfortable my friends were with being in a kitchen (and making something besides cold cereal or toast).
Regardless, we all agreed to contribute something to the dinner and divvied up the responsibilities among ourselves, which included appetizers, salad, and side dishes.
I shared the task of making a salad with a friend, hoping to impress with my favorite cooking prowess, which is making a well-balanced vinaigrette from scratch. My friend Dani, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic about cooking. She eagerly insisted on bringing chips and salsa as an appetizer. (If you’re like Dani and need help on appetizer ideas, click here.)
Although I was skeptical at first, I was pleasantly surprised to see how everyone made a contribution to our meal. Each person seemed to have their own specialty: My roommate made sautéed Brussel sprouts with dried cranberries, another friend of mine tackled rosemary roasted potatoes, and, best of all, our generous host made the entrée of pan-fried, panko-crusted chicken topped with melted provolone and crispy prosciutto. Everything was extremely flavorful and cooked beautifully.
Not only was it better than anything I’ve eaten in a dining hall, but our family dinner was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had since being at college. I was so happy to be sharing my passion of cooking alongside my friends and spending the night eating and relaxing together.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of your classes and schoolwork in college, and I think having a weekly “family-style” dinner is the perfect way to unwind and cook with your friends, all while eating tasty home-made food. (See some of the health benefits from eating dinner with your friends and family here.)
I’ve found that my friends in college have become almost like family members; we argue and relentlessly nag each other like parents, but at the end of the day we love each other like family.
If you’re curious, this is what our family dinner looked like.
I am already looking forward to this Sunday’s family dinner, and hope that this tradition is one that lasts throughout the rest of our college years.