From one student to another: Let's get cooking


As the days of sitting at home stretch on, we must find more and more ways to entertain ourselves. Why not take this time to learn something new and add a few recipes to your repertoire? That is exactly what I’ve been doing. 

Now, I look at tons of recipes, but I like to think of them as suggestions. You don’t have to follow exactly what they say. Does it call for beef, but you want to use chicken? Go for it. Don’t like cilantro? Leave it out. Want to use carrots instead of peas? Do it. The fun of cooking is in the experimenting. 

I know one of the most frustrating parts of this pandemic is the lack of food in grocery stores. The shelves still look sparse. Right now, the section of the store I usually shop in is full because people still don’t want to try tofu or fake cheese. 

It can be hard for me to find vegan versions of certain food, though, which is why I’m a firm believer in experimenting. It’s freeing to throw ingredients together and be confident you will like whatever you end up making. 

Here are some of my favorite types of meals to make as a broke college student: 


Bowls are my go-to meal when I don’t feel like making anything complicated or when I haven’t been to the store in a while. What I love about them is that they are so versatile. You never have to have the same bowl twice. 

I usually start with a base of rice, pasta or potatoes, add tofu or beans for protein, then top it with veggies and sauce. That’s it. Bon appétit. 

Here are some recipes to get you started:


Who doesn’t love pasta? There are hundreds of shapes and hundreds of ways to eat them. My personal favorite is cavatappi (also called cellentani, amori, spirali or tortiglione). It looks like little coiled springs, holds sauce effectively and is fun to say.

Whip up one of these mouthwatering pasta recipes:

Bonus: Homemade spaghetti sauce.  I never buy spaghetti or pizza sauce. I make my own because I can adjust the spices just how I like, make single batches and leave out the absurdly high levels of salt and sugar. 


I will admit, soup is not one of my favorite food items. I don’t like drinking my food or hearing the little slurping sound people make. (I also have a fundamental dislike of foods I can’t eat with a fork, but that is a conversation for a different time.) 

All of that being said, hot and sour soup is my weakness and has converted me. It has an amazing combination of flavors and textures. I normally add white sweet potatoes and some homemade pasta to it when I’m feeling crafty, which helps absorb some of the liquid. 

Try your hand at one of these soup recipes:


If you have some random ingredients, try throwing them into a stir-fry. I have been experimenting with stir-frying for more than a decade, and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. For me, it’s all in the sauce. Perfect that, and you can make any mix of ingredients taste good. I also don’t like to use oil, so I use a little bit of vegetable broth in a non-stick skillet, and it works beautifully.

Here are some stir-fry recipes to get you started:

If none of these recipes sound like something you would like, take a look at what else these websites have to offer. There is bound to be something you like. Also, remember that you don’t have to make large batches of food, especially when you don’t know if you will like it. I often cut all of the ingredient amounts in half the first time I try a recipe so I don’t end up wasting food. 

Take time to find out what spice combinations you like. Experiment with cooking methods. Try new things. I believe in you. 

Go forth and conquer your kitchen.

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