College is a season of life with precious little time or money for nutritious food. Most meals are heavy on carbs to fuel the schedule, yet light on the sustaining nutrition the brain requires. However, being a well-fed college student goes beyond checking the mail for the next care package or searching the grocery aisles for cheap convenience foods.
How do you avoid buying Ramen in bulk or the nutritional void of fast food?
Don’t try to do it alone, make Stone Soup. I don’t know if this old folk story is read anymore, but the lesson is timeless—there is enough for everyone when we pool resources for a common goal. In this case, eating was the goal and the soup was far better than the bits of food they would have had independently.
So how do you make Stone Soup these days?
Share resources, both talent and financial. It does not take an entire village just a handful of people with the same goal of escaping the grab-n-go trap. Divide the responsibilities and a few dollars and you’re on your way. One student told me she cooked for a group of guys who agreed to buy the food if she would prepare it. Her labor and their funds meant they all ate well.
My friend and I cook together once a month to prepare meals in advance for our family. We both save money on bulk items and enjoy the ease of having a menu of items to choose from for dinner. She has the benefit of a freezer (not all students do), so she can pull something out for dinner when she is studying for a test.
Whether it is one cooking for others, a small group cooking together, or two families making multiple meals to last a month, the concept is the same—you are sharing resources (and great food) instead of trying to do it alone.
Practical items you will need:
♦ A stove or a good countertop burner
♦ 1 large pot (8 qt or larger)
♦ Skillet (optional, but helpful)
♦ Large casserole dish 9″x13″ (optional, and requires an oven)
♦ Cutting board
♦ Sharp knife – even old knives get a second chance with AccuSharp
♦ Utensils – spatula, stirring spoons, tongs
♦ Mixing bowls
♦ Storage bowls with lids to divide the food amongst the group
♦ Recipes, and patience to work things out
*Many of these items can be found at thrift stores or garage sales for little cost. Borrowing larger pots or mixing bowls can work too, my friends and I have shared a stock pot for years.
Divide the Responsibilities:
♦ Organizing, searching out the recipes, creating shopping lists
♦ Managing the money/contributions
Note: If you have food sensitivities or strong food preferences, it is ideal to cook with a like-minded group.
Agree on a time to put it all together, enjoy good food, and divide the leftovers. Cooking together enables students to have nutritionally superior, great tasting food, while building community at the same time. This is not limited to soups, that’s just an easy, inexpensive way to begin. Spaghetti or skillet suppers, salads, and casseroles work well for groups too. Below is a recipe to get started.
White Chicken Green Chili
Source: Mary Schoenecker
Yields 7 servings
1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1″ cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tablespoon oil
2 15 ½ oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can 14 ½ oz. chicken broth
2 cans (4 oz.) green chilies
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream
In a large pot, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream.
Other recipes to consider:
Chicken & Dumplings
Curry Chicken Salad
Red Beans & Rice
Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Skillet Beef Fajitas
Sausage & Vegetable Pasta Bake
Savoring Today was nominated for a Top Foodie Blog Award at eCollegeFinder and asked to write a student centered post, which is what you find here. Dedicating this to my friend, Pati, who went back to school much later in life. I admire her courage and determination.