So far the biggest struggle of my junior year hasn’t been in the classroom but in the kitchen. My first two years, I lived on campus and with just a swipe of my bear card, I had access to all the food that I wanted. My junior year, I decided to live off campus and in an apartment.
Cooking isn’t that something that is completely unfamiliar to me. Growing up my parents traveled a lot and my mom would often have meals prepped for me when they left. My mom would leave pre-made pizzas where all I had to do was put sauce and cheese on dough and heat it up.
Making these things taught me how to do the very basics in the kitchen like use an oven, stove and toaster. Three weeks of cooking on my own have brought me a greater appreciation toward my mom and even UCA’s cafeteria.
One of the biggest challenges of cooking no one talks about is knowing what to cook.
In the world of cooking there are so many good dishes to choose from. One of the things I have done is use Pinterest to help me know what I want to cook.
Every Sunday, I go on Pinterest and find the recipe that wows me the most. The recipe I select will the recipe that I will use for the whole week. I know it sounds boring and tiring to eat the same recipe every day for a week but it isn’t so bad when it is a dish you have never had and it tastes good.
Also, to deal with the fatigue of eating the same recipe over I do put breaks in between and I will eat out. Making every meal with the same recipe does it make it easier to get groceries and cook.
During the first two weeks, I was making my dinner and lunch everyday. After two weeks, I realized how much it tired me out to cook twice a day and it was taking a lot of time.
Instead, I have started doing what is known as meal prepping. Meal prepping is cooking every meal for the week on Sunday. In week three, I see why meal prepping has become a popular practice among young people. I am saving time.
On Sundays, I now wake up early and turn on football and turn the TV at an angle to where I can see it from the kitchen. After that I get the meat and veggies I will you and normally that is chicken and potatoes. Once I clean and cut them them I put them into the instant pot and then drown them in olive oil.
Once there is enough oil I throw seasoning onto the chicken and potatoes and then turn the pot on. One thing to make sure with an instant pot is to make sure there is a lot of water and oil in it because it creates steam to heat up. If there isn’t enough liquid it will burn the contents of the pot. Meal prepping takes 3-4 hours including cleaning up but it is worth because of the time it saves me during the week.
After cooking on my own for three weeks now, I have started to look at cooking as less of a chore and as more of a hobby. Every week it is fun to go to the grocery store and buy different foods and seasoning and then bring it home and use my imagination to see what I can create.
Mixing the right meats, veggies, herbs, seasoning and sauces together to create something you like is now an art form to me.