When I went home for Easter, I asked my mother to make chicken and okra. It’s a creole dish that’s been in my family for as long as I can remember. It’s similar to gumbo, with andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, okra and lots of spice that’s simmered to the perfect consistency and then served over rice. Food is something that makes me feel connected to my parents and ultimately, my roots because of all the culture and tradition that is wrapped up in it.
Everyone loves food, but eating fresh can be a time consuming and expensive process, especially as college students. We’re in the first stages of being adults, and yet it can seem like there isn’t enough time to even make a home cooked meal for ourselves.Many of us resort to take-out, frozen meals and ramen.
I think it’s important for every college student to learn how to cook. It’s obvious that there are many challenges in the way, but cooking for yourself is a much more fulfilling option that has taught me a lot about myself.
I’m the child of divorce, and for all of my childhood, I lived with my mom. My fondest memories of my dad were weekends at his house and him cooking for me. My mom always said my dad should’ve been a chef. His food tastes like love, comfort and home. He always uses the freshest ingredients to make the cheesiest mac n’ cheese that’s so cheesy it has to be the best on earth.
I meant what I said. It’s the best on Earth.
Cooking is the way my dad shows me he cares. Even now, I love to drive over to his place so we can have dinner. He asks me how school is going. It’s kind of a tradition that makes me feel closer to him.
Sharing a meal can bring us closer to the people around us. That being said, it can seem easier to grab a meal with your friends at the closest restaurant or take out spot. However, there are ways to make shopping for produce affordable and quick.
I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s because it tends to be quick, easy and fresh. I often buy small portions of food that is precut and sliced so it doesn’t go bad very quickly. I learned these tips and tricks from my mom. She raised me and my brother almost entirely by herself while working as an elementary school teacher. I knew she cared, she just didn’t always have time to do everything from scratch, because she was too busy being a real adult.
She’s the reason I’m a fan of crockpots and meal prep. Depending on portions, you can buy enough food to make a recipe that’s two servings or that’s eight servings. From there, all you have to do is box it up in some tupperware, and you have a week’s worth of meals.
We can all agree that young people cooking is sort of a lost art. Unless you had parents like mine, there are no other spaces that really allow students who are pursuing higher education to learn those skills, and yet when we arrive at college, we are expected to know how to take care of ourselves. Cooking is not viewed as much of a necessity anymore in our fast paced world.
Maybe instead of trying to become a Food Network chef overnight, there’s smaller steps we can all take. Buy the ingredients for a Tasty recipe. Implement more fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks or side dishes. Read the ingredients on the sides of boxes. Try to cook for yourself just once a week.
I think it’s important to recognize that being able to cook for yourself and eat fresh food is a privilege. For some people it just isn’t possible because it isn’t as affordable as a meal from a fast food restaurant, or a quick snack. These small changes I’ve mentioned can make a small difference in our lives to make us feel better, and maybe, even closer to the people we love.