Moving out of the dorms and into an apartment is a liberating rite of passage. It means saying goodbye to cramped dorms, their questionably clean bathrooms, and best of all, meal points. It also means, however, that I’m now responsible for feeding myself, which seems like a daunting task. However, it’s mid-October, and I’ve now survived for two months on my own. Here are my tips and tricks for apartment meals that make life as a student a bit easier to manage.

1. Buy instant oatmeal and coffee

rice, oatmeal cereal, granola, muesli, oatmeal, sweet, milk, cereal, porridge
Christin Urso

These staples have become a part of my morning routine, because waking up for 8 am classes is already hard enough without cooking breakfast. I make a satisfyingly quick and hearty fix of instant oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon. Meanwhile, I get my morning kick of caffeine from instant coffee, which tastes just as good as the real thing.

2. Freeze your bread

rye, sandwich, wheat, bread, toast
Jocelyn Hsu

It's hard to finish the whole loaf of bread before its expiration date, and I used to end up throwing a bag of moldy bread out.  Now, I freeze my bread to prevent waste and save money. Freezing bread keeps it fresh for up to six months, and it’s easy to revive to its fresh, soft texture by popping it into the toaster for a few minutes. 

3. Invest in a toaster oven

milk, cheese
Annie Pinto

To warm up formerly mentioned bread, invest in a toaster oven. I bought mine for $15 from Walmart, and it works just as well as any other. It's a good investment because you can use it to reheat things that come out soggy in the microwave like pizza, chicken tenders, fries.

4. Ditch the dairy

breakfast, Cheerios, bowl of cereal, pouring milk, milk, cereal
Jocelyn Hsu

Since moving into an apartment, I’ve officially swapped out dairy milk for almond milk as a healthier and longer-lasting alternative. Dairy milk has a shelf-life of about a week, while almond milk lasts for at least several months. Not a fan of almond milk? Try other dairy-free alternatives like soy, coconut, and rice milk.

5. Avoid buying easily perishable produce

vegetable, pea, frozen peas, legume, broccoli, cabbage
Katherine Baker

I've noticed that a majority of my groceries are easily perishable produce items. If you don’t have time to run to Trader Joe’s once a week, buy frozen vegetables. When done right, they can taste just as good as their fresh counterparts. Try not to buy avocados, spinach, bananas, and other produce items that go bad quickly. Instead, opt for produce with longer shelf lives like potatoes, apples, and citrus fruit. Or, keep kimchi in the fridge, which lasts for months and adds plenty of probiotic benefits to any apartment meal.

6. Know how to store easily perishable goods

guacamole, sweet, vegetable, avocado
Jessica Kelly

If you can’t live without avocado toast, or you like to keep a bag of fresh spinach in your fridge, know how to store them. Brush some lime or lemon juice onto sliced avocados to keep them fresh longer, or place a paper towel in your bag of spinach to soak up extra moisture and prevent soggy spoilage.

7. Stock up on canned beans

azuki bean, moth bean, horse gram, vegetable, legume, cereal
Ashleigh Monaco

A can of beans costs about $1 each, and generally has a shelf life of two or more years. Keep a few in your pantry and use them to make chilis, stews, and bean salads as an inexpensive and hearty way to incorporate plant-based protein into your apartment meals. 

8. Have a bowl of instant ramen

broth, pasta, noodle, vegetable, soup, ramen
Giovanni Crystal

It’s hard to forget this essential. Instant ramen is just about every college student’s best friend. Sometimes a hot, steaming bowl of it is the best way to end a long, hard day. Feel free to indulge in this wonderfully aromatic bowl of it once in awhile, or make yourself a (slightly) healthier version.

There you have it—adulting made a little bit easier for the lazy, busy, and broke college student. Next time you go grocery shopping, reference these tips and freeze your bread, stock up on those frozen vegetables, and save yourself some time and money.