by Eric Cecchett
Returning to school after a long summer can be difficult for some students. Exchanging those long beach-filled days and carefree summer nights for 15 credits and a job hardly seems like a trade worth making. For me, one of the hardest parts about coming back to Harrisonburg in the fall is saying goodbye to the coddling embrace of living in my parents’ house. After living in an apartment for two years where you would be hard-pressed to find a paper towel, I have come to truly appreciate the beauty of a domesticated and well-established kitchen.
Until I came to JMU and began living on my own, I never quite realized the challenges involved in shopping for and feeding oneself. But after many ramen dinners and desperate walks to E-Hall in two feet of snow, I like to think I’ve learned some valuable lessons. In this article, I hope to impart some of this knowledge in the hopes that it will educate even the most parsimonious and nutritionally confused college student.
Perhaps the most essential ingredients (get it?) to maintaining a well-stocked kitchen is to find recipes, plan ahead of time, and most importantly, make lists. On too many occasions have I absent-mindedly left the grocery store having forgot to buy the very thing I went there for in the first place. If you are half as scatter-brained as I am, a well thought out list is an absolute must for any successful grocery run.
Although I would strongly suggest using recipes (I’ll provide some later), if you are someone who simply prefers to wing it, I have some tips for you as well! Amassing a large selection of versatile and non-perishable foods allows you to have a wide range of meal options for an extended period of time. Purchases such as rice, canned beans, and frozen vegetables are easy to store and provide a countless variety of options for the cook who prefers not to follow directions.
Lastly, I will play the role of the concerned parent and implore you to not ignore fresh fruits and vegetables. Most grocery stores in the area offer a fine selection of fruits and veggies for an affordable price for any college student (try downtown Harrisonburg’s Friendly City Co-op for slightly more expensive, but delicious and local produce). I’ve learned in these past few years that buying lots of veggies for myself forces me to get creative and find new ways to use them that I never before would have considered. If you’re still like I was a few years ago and are scared of those greens on your plate, it’s time to grow up and learn to love your veggies.
Hopefully these tips have provided some guidance from your kitchen to the grocery store and everywhere in between. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes for your viewing (and perhaps tasting) pleasure. Enjoy!
http://thepoorvegan.tumblr.com/post/1497346806/tofu-lettuce-wraps- Easy, healthy and completely vegan tofu lettuce wraps!
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ts-sweet-potato-fries/- Sweet potato fries are an easy, moderately healthy snack (or meal) fit for any occasion.
This last recipe is one that my girlfriend and I have pieced together over the past couple of months. It incorporates tons of veggies and leaves enough leftovers to feed yourself for most of the week!
Chelsea and Eric’s lazy veggie pasta:
1 lb of your favorite pasta.
1 can of plain tomato sauce.
~2Tbs olive oil
½ large onion, diced.
½-1 green pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
½ block of tofu. (optional but highly recommended)
frozen spinach (however much you like.)
8-10 baby carrots, diced.
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Cumin (to taste)
- Start by sautéing onion, garlic, and olive oil in a medium sized pot (this will be the same pot that you cook your sauce in. So make sure it’s big enough!)
- When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the rest of the veggies and crumbled tofu. Continue to sauté for a few minutes on medium heat.
- After a few minutes, add the entire can of tomato sauce and stir, making sure the veggies are evenly incorporated. This is also when you want to add your spices. Turn heat to low and leave covered for roughly 30 minutes. Make sure to come back occasionally to give it a good stir.
- After the 30 minutes are up, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Once it is finished, combine with sauce in a large pot.