Food!!! (ft. cooking in college)
Happy New Year everyone! One of my New Years Resolutions is to continue to cook more and eat healthier. I started meal prepping more this semester and it’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of. The best part about the dorms on Vandy campus is that there are kitchens easily accessible by all students. I love eating healthy and cooking my own food, so here are some easy and healthy meals/meal ideas that I’ve compiled over the years in college. Many of these meals I started cooking more during junior year when I actually had my own kitchen in my suite, but even before this, my friends and I would have cooking nights in the dorms’ kitchens. If you do end up making a lot of your own food, I recommend having a rice cooker and an instant pot; these two tools are my lifesavers.
Vanderbilt has these little food markets called “munchie marts” across campus. They carry a variety of things from frozen food, to fruit, to ready-made hot food. These items can all be purchased on the meal plan. You can read more about the meal plans and how they work here.
Oatmeal + fruit: I usually use oatmeal or yogurt as my base and top it with fresh fruit from the munchie mart nearby. Oatmeal with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and bananas, topped with cinnamon, is one of my favorite breakfasts. I usually scramble eggs as well.
If I don’t eat on campus at one of the many dining halls, I go out to eat with friends at restaurants participating in Vandy’s Taste of Nashville or I cook. Here are two staples that are super easy for the non-experienced chef:
I. Fried rice
Green onions (optional)
1. First, make sure you already have ready-made rice. (If not, you can make rice as you prep the vegetables, but refrigerated ready-made rice is the best.)
2. I usually add vegetables and eggs to my fried rice, but you can substitute or leave out any of the ingredients. I’m lazy, so I usually just add frozen vegetables from Trader Joe’s (frozen corn, peas, carrots). I usually saute the vegetables first, because the first time I made fried rice, I sauteed the rice and vegetables together and the flavor wasn’t as strong.
3. At the same time, scramble eggs in a large pan to add to the rice later.
4. After you scramble the eggs, add the rice and vegetables to the pan and stir fry until slightly brown. Add soy sauce and stir until ready. (Make sure you taste it and add more soy sauce or salt if necessary).
5. After you remove the pan from heat, stir in green onions and sesame oil.
II. Chicken soup instant pot recipe
1 pack of 5 chicken drumsticks from Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store, but I just love Trader Joe’s)
5-6 stalks of celery
½ red onion
1. First, rinse chicken drumsticks and put them all in the instant pot.
2. Next, wash and cut all vegetables into small chunks.
3. Add water to the Instant Pot between ½ & ⅔ line, enough to cover everything in the pot.
4. Press the soup/broth button on the Instant Pot auto menu. It’ll take 30 minutes to pressurize the pot and then 30 minutes to cook it. After the pot beeps, you still need to wait at least an hour for the Instant Pot to completely depressurize, so don’t open the pot immediately!
Note: When you heat up the soup later, make sure you transfer the soup from the Instant Pot container to another pot that can be used on a stove! The Instant Pot container cannot be used on the stovetop.
Usually, chicken soup takes a while to make because you have to boil it for a long time, but since we college students don’t have the time to wait, an instant pot really makes life a lot easier! Of course, there are always the classic college foods such as ramen and mac/cheese, but I tried to be a little healthier this semester since those are processed and unnatural :P
I hope you enjoyed reading! If you have any questions about college/dorm life, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!