After living in my college’s residence for two years, I decided it was finally time to venture out and escape the little bubble I often found myself in on campus. Now that I am living off campus I have suddenly become overwhelmed with the number of responsibilities thrown at me. In my old dorm, in addition to the luxury of a weekly cleaning service, I never had to worry about food and all the responsibilities that go along with the seemingly simple concept of eating!
Although I complained about my dining hall’s food on a regular basis, I now appreciate the luxury of having healthy meals ready to eat with a simple swipe of a card. In the midst of balancing school, a part-time job, and daily chores, cooking became a bit of challenge for me at first. I often found myself tempted just to skip cooking altogether and quickly grab something to eat from the many restaurants surrounding me. Grocery shopping was also a bit of a challenge because the only thing stopping me from piling up junk food and pre-made meals in my basket was my concern for my budget.
In an effort to save my bank balance and of course my health, I quickly decided to limit how much I ate out. To do this, I started planning what I would be eating for the entire week and when I would cook everything. Discovering the art of meal-planning has benefitted me in so many ways. Every week I make a list of ingredients I need and only buy those specific items, then I cook enough food to last me a few days at a time. As a result, I have been able to save so much time and have cut back on unnecessary spending on unneeded groceries. (No, I definitely do not need three bags of chocolate almonds). I know some people who prepare for the week by making a food chart and listing everything they will be eating each day—try this method out it might be helpful for you too!
When I first moved out, I thought I would end up eating Ramen and frozen food every day. Thankfully, I am proud to say that I have not yet resorted to the emergency Ramen in the cupboard at all! In fact, I am eating quite well for a busy university student and actually enjoy cooking.
I cannot call my self a chef at this point. However, I can say that I do not often follow recipes when cooking and have gotten closer to mastering the art of “making things up as I go.” I find my self making stir-fry like dishes quite often. It’s so easy to just mix a variety of vegetables, some chicken (or fish), seasoning and cook everything for a few minutes. Stir-frys taste great, you can add whatever you want to them, and they are incredibly healthy!For those students who have also just moved out, I suggest trying out recipes from YouTube. My favorites are “Tasty” videos because they are simple to make yet delicious.
Also, I am always on the lookout for free food events on campus because free food is always a good idea on a student budget. If you try and searching up events on Facebook, you would be surprised to learn that so many all social events at U of T feature food!
I hope this article helps serves as an insight into the life of a university student and our shared struggle to find balance in our new-found independence. In our busy schedules eating right and taking care of one’s health should always be a priority! So, take some to reflect on your eating habits, and find ways to incorporate healthy eating/cooking into your life!
Until next time!