The challenges of cooking on campus
When talking to college students about their dining habits, it’s common to hear about takeout food, dining hall horror stories, and microwavable soups. With a just a few simple recipes and a little determination, however, college students can cook delicious and healthy meals right in their own dorms.
“Most people probably don’t prepare their own meals because they don’t know how to actually cook full meals,” said Bridget Butler, a 19-year-old Psychology major. “Also, it does take time and requires that dishes have to be done, which most college kids do not seem to want to do”
Unfortunately, not knowing how to cook meals is not the only problem. Some students avoid preparing meals on campus because of a lack of tools. Freshmen dorms, for example, provide microwaves and fridges as a means of cooking – a difficulty, especially for those who want to stay healthy and avoid college “staple foods” such as ramen noodles or frozen pizza.
“I feel like it would be helpful if there were communal kitchens in the dorms,” said Vee Eleanor Naimoli, a 23-year-old English major at Rowan University. “When I first lived in the dorms, I bought cookbooks for dorm cooking and I made a lot of healthy stuff. But it’s not as good as it could have been, especially if I had been allowed to have a hot plate, or if I had access to a communal kitchen”
Bridget Butler, a Resident Advisor at Rowan, agrees with the idea of communal kitchens in dorms that don’t offer residents the tools to cook.
“There should definitely be community kitchens in all of the dorms because most freshman dorms have nothing to cook with besides a microwave,” Butler said. “This limits the residents to only ordering takeout or eating on campus”
According to Naimoli, a lack of tools isn’t the only problem with students that are trying to stay healthy during the school year.
“I found that in the dining hall, they use a lot of oil,” Naimoli said. “If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or if you have any sort of allergy, the food is not always clearly marked. There are too many tempting things, like mac and cheese or pizza. When you’re stressed, you want that sort of thing – especially during finals. I find that it’s better to just go food shopping and find things that are easy to assemble and cook”
Although Rowan University students face many difficulties when it comes to making a meal in their dorms, many still continue to pull together a number of healthy and easy dishes. Students in dorms cook to stay healthy, to eat a good quality home cooked meal, and sometimes, even to save money.
“I think it’s healthier to cook than to eat in the caf[eteria] or on campus a lot, and it’s cheaper than eating out all the time” said Emily Bierman, a 20-year-old Journalism major.
According to Mary Montgomery, a 19-year-old Law and Justice major, the reason behind making meals at home is a simple one.
“I make a lot of chicken, mostly salsa chicken,” Montgomery said. “It’s delicious, and it’s easy to make. If I can make something that I like for less money and still be healthy, it sounds like a good deal to me”
Emily Bierman discusses her delicious chicken and broccoli casserole.
Mary Montgomery, a Sophomore Law and Justice major, talks about making salsa chicken.
Vee Eleanor Naimoli shares a staple of her healthy diet: green smoothies.
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