When it comes to becoming an independent adult and figuring out meals, it can be overwhelming. It’s the type of thing that, for the average American, is easily taken for granted since we’re so privileged by the many conveniences and supply of food. But, as our parents have told us time and time again, and now what seems to be echoing back at us, “money doesn’t grow on trees” and food isn’t free (except, of course, for those lovely summer days when Ben & Jerry’s host free cone day). But I digress. In order to avoid unnecessary stress, here are some tips and tricks to maneuvering meal plans and maintaining a stocked pantry in college as an independent adult.
1. Instead of planning your food and then figuring out meals, plan out meals first, and then food. Otherwise you’ll find yourself wasting and craving rather than saving and satisfying.
2. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry, just don’t.
3. Treat yourself. After all, “Man does not live on bread alone.” But really, don’t think that you’re doing yourself any favors by living on the bare minimum. Invest in a bar of chocolate to sparingly indulge in throughout the week, or those quality coffee beans to perk yourself up in the mornings. Have a simple grocery list, but have a list and not an item.
4. Spice it up. Don’t think that you have to settle for a bland, or even simple salt, flavored meal. Pair the salt with pepper. Or, better yet, sauté onions with salt and pepper or add a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, or oregano. Take a risk, and be creative.
5. Finally, commune. You don’t have to eat alone, and it’s better to have company anyway. Have a night during the week when you invite people over for a meal to share and enjoy a good meal together. Not only do you have the benefit of community, you can also work together to save money by strategically assigning people to bring an ingredient or simply keeping tabs.
When it comes to meal plans, here are some of my favorite food blogs for delicious recipes.
Izy Hossack’s Top With Cinnamon blog features Izy’s original recipes, with an emphasis on baked goods. This last Christmas I actually received her first recipe book composed not only of her delicious recipes and basic “how-to’s” but also on displayed with intriguing and simple photography. One of my personal favorites from her are her Cranberry Scones and Pretzel Cinnamon Scones (featured in her cookbook).
At Love & Lemons, Jeanine Donofrio provides fresh, healthy, and colorful recipes for the all-natural preferences and special dietary needs. She also has a nifty recipe archive where you can select anything from a seasonal recipe, to a food item to customize your search.
And at Garden Betty you’ll find even more delicious baked good’s. Linda’s focus is on the simple life in the garden, providing simple meals from produce found in her garden along with direction for preserves, and jellies. Recently I’ve enjoyed her pasta recipe. Simple and tasty.