I’ve written so many articles during my three and a half years as a journalism major, and now, I think it’s time to publish them. Most of these I just wrote for class with the hopes of publishing them in an established news media outlet. But I thought, why feel defeated just because some newspaper or website doesn’t have time to edit real writing? I’m proud of my work, and I want others to enjoy it. After all, that’s the whole point of writing isn’t it?
Without further ado, here is the first installment of a weekly series in which I share a journalistic article I wrote.
Written for a Feature Writing (Magazine) class in 2013
It’s a Tuesday night and Lauren Thomsen just walked in the door to her apartment after a six hour shift at Starbucks. She has a paper due Friday, laundry piled in a basket and a hungry, needy cat named Lemon eyeing her pathetically. The clock on her stove reads 7:15 p.m., and she hasn’t even started dinner.
Thomsen’s night isn’t even considered hectic by many of her peers. Between classes, work, social events and homework, students don’t think twice about ordering pizza two nights out of the week. But eating out regularly doesn’t make for a healthy wallet or weight.
In a 2012 suvery conducted by 21st Century only 9 percent of college students out of 100 buy groceries more often than eating out. That means the average student spent $735 on meals off campus in one year.
There is a pervading misconception amongst college co-eds that cooking is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. However, for a quick, healthy meal, fresh produce and a little creativity go a long way.
“Simply cutting an onion and a little bit of garlic takes little to no time, but it’ll make something easy like pasta, even if it’s pre-made pasta sauce, a little tastier and a lot more authentic,” Thomsen said. “You can even cut up fresh peppers and throw them in there. It’s a little bit of work for a lot of gain in the flavor department.”
Thomsen, not quite a seasoned chef but a cook all the same, worked at a barbecue restaurant and a catering company over the summer. It was there she learned the importance of prepping meals and using simple, fresh ingredients, she said.
For those less comfortable in the kitchen, Pinterest and food blogs provide tops and recipe ideas. However, that garlic chipotle salmon with mango salsa may be as hard to make as it is to say in one breath.
Brandon Cruz, the Sunspot kitchen manager, admits he frequently uses Pinterest for inspiration. The only downside? Some recipes don’t live up to their drool-inducing photograph. The safest bet is to make classic dishes with a twist.
“A good standby is a grilled cheese, but it doesn’t need to be plain-jane American cheese,” Cruz said. “Get a really nice loaf of bread from the bakery at Earth Fare, or add several different types of greens, like spinach, or heirloom tomatoes. Even throw some bacon on there!”
Popular college pantry items, such as tomato soup and Ramen noodles, are cheap but bland. Cruz suggests forgoing the Ramen seasoning packet for a simple, homemade tomato sauce, or amping up tomato soup with a dash of Tabasco sauce.
In fact, the key to getting the most bang for your buck is picking versatile foods and using them creatively. Rotisserie chicken for example is convenient, affordable and nutritious.
Alexandra Payne, the blogger behind Sweet Betweens, suggests using the chicken for three different meals throughout the week. Cruz ate a fair amount of pre-cooked chicken in his college days, he said, because of minimal prep time, budget-friendly prices and adaptability.
As far as appliances and kitchen tools go, the general consensus amongst foodies is quality over quantity. A sturdy chef knife, a cast iron or stainless steel skillet and a food processor or blender make up the list of basics every student should have on-hand.
Successful meals don’t have to be complicated or expensive. All it takes is a little creativity, fresh ingredients and the right instruments to make a simple meal special.
“On campus or off,” Payne said, “preparing quick and healthy meals with just a microwave or countertop appliance is something you can tackle quicker than that essay for Psych 101.”