Surviving The Freshman 15

So common that it’s become a joke, it’s not unusual for the lure of all-you-can-eat school cafeterias to lead to unhealthy eating choices. Yes, there’s a salad bar, but there’s also burgers and fries for every meal, vending machines to keep you going between classes and the ubiquitous free pizza bribery to attend events.

Dorms tend not to be the best space to make a healthy meal. Limited to minifridges, microwaves and (if you’re lucky) hot plates, it’s too easy to fall back on quick and easy but highly processed meals. There’s plenty of ways you can make healthy choices, which can give you the boost you need to concentrate during a test or have the energy for your club activities.

 

Fruit Infused Water

Learn to Love Water

Nothing can beat free. Minimize your environmental impact and bring your own bottle with you to drink from during the day; you’d be surprised to know what you thought was hunger was actually thirst. If the taste of tap doesn’t do it for you, there’s filtered bottles, as well as flavorings you can try. There’s an entire recipe book for fruit-infused waters if you want the taste but no sugar.


 

Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen

Build Your Arsenal

Every college has different rules as to what you can have in your dorm; some are full suites with their own kitchen sink, others are little more than a motel room. Small appliances like coffee pots, mini fridges and microwaves can be bought cheaply from second-hand sites like Craigslist, or you can pick one off a graduating student.

Flatware, dishes, bowls, cups and basic prep tools like a cutting board are must-haves, too. You don’t want to find yourself making a sandwich but don’t have a knife for the peanut butter. Legendary chef Alton Brown’s guide on kitchen tools will help you make the most of your space, where unitaskers can be killer.


 

The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook

Stock Up

If you order enough take out, you’ll soon have a mountain of napkins, plastic forks and ketchup packets, but you’ll need more than that if you want to be any sort of gourmet. A small box of sugar or bottle of honey can perk up a morning drink and garlic salt or sriracha can kick up the flavor of frozen vegetables.

Instant ramen is famous for its price and shelf stability, but options like rice and pasta can bring variety to your diet. Don’t expect to have a fridge like home full of things you might use, aim for foods that can last a while and can be used for multiple dishes. Find like-minded students to make jaunts to the store every week or so for ingredients. While the school corner store is tempting, the prices and selection reflect their captive audience. Buy your 5 lb bag of cereal and cotton candy Oreos while at the supermarket. Make the most of your trip to Trader Joe’s with a cookbook that focuses just on what you can buy there.


 

Prison Ramen

Become A Pro

Cooking is a skill that you’ll use throughout life, even if it’s the basics like making popcorn without setting off the smoke detector. You don’t need perfect knife skills or the intuition to know just what a sauce needs, but as you practice you’ll discover what you like and how to improve upon your foods.

There’s plenty of microwave-only cookbooks, as well as foods that require no cooking at all. Vegetarian and vegan dishes can be easily made, as well as the perennial sandwich. Skip the flavor packet and elevate your ramen game; it’ll taste better and be more filling, too. Ramen has been elevated with just things from the prison commissary, which should inspire your own creativity.


 

Eat This, Not That!

Embrace The New

College is a time for new experiences, and the culinary world is no exception. Take advantage of your dining hall and try foods you haven’t before. Don’t like it? The chicken tenders will still be there, you won’t waste money and you won’t go hungry. Look at options on campus for international students to have a taste of the familiar and try cuisines you might have never found in your hometown.

Still want pizza? Try a local place that delivers instead of the staple you always find at giveaways. Trust me, you will get sick of that pizza and will crave something else. Finding yourself going to a chain? There’s plenty of guides on how to make simple swaps to cut down calories and fat.g, too. Ramen has been elevated with just things from the prison commissary, which should inspire your own creativity.

Chrissy is a storyteller, using both traditional and digital methods to inform and entertain the reader, whomever they may be.

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