Last summer, I turned to my mom at a cookout, mouth half full, and tried to clearly enunciate the thought that had just taken hold of me.
“Mom,” I stated, “this is my last hamburger.”
She nodded, amused, because I make blanket statements like that pretty much weekly. In high school I’d rush in the door, heave my backpack onto the kitchen table and proclaim my new calling in life. Once I got to college, it became phone calls at weird hours that began with something like, “No, I promise I’m not drinking, I just needed to tell you that I’m teaching English in Thailand after I graduate. Sorry for waking you up.”
Vegetarianism, though, turned out not to be a fleeting fascination or topic of research for me. I had talked the talk, and I’ve spent the last year happily walking the walk and avoiding meat.
My foray into the land of meatlessness was not difficult, but it did happen to coincide with the first time in my life that I didn’t have access to my own kitchen. I spent first semester picking through the salad bar, oftentimes a little put off by the wilted lettuce or lack of standard vegetarian fare, like tofu or beans.
Luckily for you guys, though, Glar was remodeled in the spring, and while I’ll maintain that dessert is really the only thing that our cafeteria does well, there are now more options for people with restricted diets.
While the salad bar and Glar in general offered more options once the remodeling finished, I did end up making a lot of food in my room, so I’d like to pass on some wisdom from a former dorm room diner.
Take time to figure out how often and what you’ll be eating in your room; then, go buy the utensils and tools you’ll need.
Tupperware was crucial to me because I ate on the go pretty often. A friend of mine had a blender and a bunch of us would chip in yogurt or fruit for a weekly smoothie night. Keurig coffee machines are also a great investment because they are low-maintenance and great for brewing that one cup of coffee you might need before running out the door for class. Also, a few weeks of eating in Glar and evaluating your schedule should make it clear how many forks or bowls you might need.
Be prepared to wash dishes.
By the end of first semester, I had a tub that housed dirty dishes so that I could carry all of my cups and bowls to the bathroom without being scared that I would drop and break everything. Keep dish washing soap and sponges on hand as well! If you don’t stay on top of this, some pretty funky smells will become apparent, which leads me to my next point:
Be courteous to your roommate.
Walking into your room and finding out that your roomie has exploded something in your microwave is never pleasant. Clean up after yourself, cover your foods, and don’t let things go bad in the refrigerator. If you plan to do a solid amount of cooking in the room, you may want to talk to your roommate at the beginning of the year and establish rules about cleaning and sharing food or communal items like coffee makers.
Be careful what you keep in your room.
If there is a bag of M&Ms sitting by your desk, you just might empty that sucker in the time that it takes to type a paper without even noticing. Buy snack foods in limited quantities or not at all. Some of my staples included hummus, grapes, oatmeal, applesauce and V8.
Though three locations typically come to mind when students think of places to eat on campus, Glar, the pub, and the Green Terrace, keep in mind that there is one more! Eating in your room can save money and time, and whether your diet or your schedule lead you to skip the typical dining options, remember that your dorm room isn’t just your bedroom. It can be your kitchen, too!