How to get in the kitchen and start cooking for college students


A meal made within a cooking class at UMass Boston.

Katrina Sanville, Arts Editor

With the new year in full swing, resolutions may be following suit as well. Whether these resolutions are still in place, or have been long since abandoned, there’s a chance one resolution on any given college student’s list might have been to learn to cook. While learning a new skill—especially an essential one like cooking—can seem incredibly daunting, here are a few tricks and tips to start on the right track in the new year.
If you grew up in a household where cooking was an act of survival, rather than one of bonding and savoring time with friends and family, the true joy of cooking may be lost. Likewise, you may have never learned how to cook, or learned minimal survival recipes, and never got to have fun in your cooking.
As ridiculous and simple as it may seem, finding recipes that spark the inspiration towards cooking and the desire to get in the kitchen can certainly help with learning to cook. Whether this comes from scrolling online to search for new ideas—Pinterest is a great place for that—looking through old family recipes, or blindly experimenting with ingredients to create something delicious—or disgusting, but you won’t know unless you try—the first step to your culinary journey comes from having a passion for what you’re going to make. Some other easy ideas can be roasted vegetables, soup or baked goods from scratch.
Once you have a recipe in mind, the next step would be to start cooking; however, that too can be incredibly daunting for any novice chef. Between abbreviations, conversions and measurements, simply stepping foot in a kitchen can cause some people stress. Having someone in the kitchen to help guide you along the right path and provide a comforting presence can be helpful to some, but this is not always accessible for everyone.
In that situation, YouTube is a great option. YouTube has thousands of “Cook with Me” videos—similar to videos like the “Study with Me” or “Get Ready with Me” genres but with a focus on preparing food—with recipes ranging from Gigi Hadid’s famous vodka pasta to a steak dinner to lemon pepper chicken with mashed potatoes. While you don’t have to follow the recipe in the video—but it may be easier if you do—having the company of another person while cooking can make the experience a bit more enjoyable. YouTube also has hundreds, if not thousands, of videos on cooking tips for beginner and advanced cooks alike, covering bases anywhere between knife skills and properly cooking pasta.
UMass Boston also offers cooking courses to students hosted by Sodexo, the food provider for the campus. These courses are perfect for students looking to broaden their culinary skills and have a bit of knowledge in the kitchen, while also allowing students to learn to cook meals such as steak and mashed potatoes and be able to enjoy the meal afterwards. If you can recall the steps to make the meal correctly, there is even a chance to win a cutting board to take home as well!
Most importantly, practice is key. As redundant as that can sound, practice truly does make for improvement, and while it may be easier to put a frozen pizza into the oven and consider that dinner, it isn’t very nutritional. With that, ordering delivery every day can get expensive, and many students often don’t have the budget for consistent takeout.
All of the greatest chefs had to start somewhere, and even Gordon Ramsey makes mistakes in the kitchen from time to time. Messing up is part of the nature of cooking, and rather than dwell on the mistakes, try to salvage what you can and grow from your errors. In no time, you’ll be able to make something to be proud of.