Pillbox

Advice for Awkward People

Dear Sarah,

Now that I'm a sophomore and I'm living off-campus, no more RA, no more beep boop on the way to class, and no more meal plan. And that last one is the real problem. I'm inept, lazy, and poor. All of the odds are against me.

My mom makes it look so easy, cooking dinner every single day. Because she obviously never involved me in that process, I don't really know how to plan and cook a meal. But I am an expert at spooning a can of SpaghettiO's into a bowl and turning on the microwave.

You're probably thinking, you can't live on SpaghettiOs, that's terrible for your health. Well, you're right. But I'm more concerned about my time and money. That's what I miss the most about my meal plan: the immediate gratification of prepared food, without swiping my debit card or forking out cash.

I could buy a can of off-brand SpaghettiOs at Aldi for $.65! Then in two minutes, I have a warm bowl of food that's going to fill me up, and I didn't have to chop, dice, season, sauté, roast, or plate. Ain't nobody got time for that! I could save myself so many verbs by just putting crap in the microwave.

But alas, my parents are worried about my nutrition. They give me grocery money and tell me to buy vegetables, protein, and whole grains, so I just have all of these ingredients in my kitchen. When I'm hungry, standing in front of my fridge, all I can see are the minutes upon minutes of labor it would take to turn it all into something I want to eat when I could just be lying down watching Parks and Rec. I want the convenience of takeout, but I don't want to pay for it.

I'm at a loss. How do I reconcile all of my needs?

Grumbling stomach sound,
Sadly Eating No Dinner Seriously Need A Cheap KFC Sandwich

Dear SENDSNACKS,

I can't tell you how many times I've yearned for the days when I could just put on some pants, walk to The Underground, and be back in bed 10 minutes later with chicken fingers and french fries.

It's complicated. Part of "adulting" is getting over yourself and doing things that suck. Yes, it sucks like heck to stand up for more than two minutes — I'm very sensitive to that. But there are ways to spread it out and make it easier.

If you can dedicate a couple of hours each weekend to going balls to the wall and preparing meals in advance, this will make those weeknights where you just want to inhale your weight in food from the comfort of your bed that much easier. Store the leftovers in containers in the fridge or freezer (depending how long you need them to last), so that when dinner time rolls around all you need to do is pop one in the microwave! Maximum satisfaction, minimum effort, zero money out of your pocket.

The best meals to do this with are "casseroles" like baked ziti or enchiladas, a good hearty soup (think taco soup), or just pieces of meat, like baked chicken breasts or pulled pork in the crockpot. Even having your meat prepared will make the rest of the meal prep so much easier. If you have a chicken breast, all you need is noodles, sauce, cheese, water, and you have chicken parm! This will feel easier to tackle when all you can think about is the homework you have to do and sleep you need to catch up on.

Believe in yourself. If you make the task of cooking more manageable, you will be more successful!

Happy cooking,
Sarah