The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

Why You Need To Learn To Cook

Instead of relying on a costly meal plan or buying dinner every night, McMahon residents should get in the kitchen
Why+You+Need+To+Learn+To+Cook
ALYSSA SHONK

Depending on a meal plan or buying all of your meals frozen or delivered is an unfortunately common way of life for many college students. This is especially true for residents in McMahon Hall — the apartment style residence at the Fordham Lincoln Center campus. 

But just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you have to eat like it. If you live in McMahon Hall, learning to cook is the best investment you can make for yourself. The Weekly 15 meal plan — which offers 15 swipes per week in addition to 450 dining dollars to be used at the university’s campus dining locations — is the most reasonable plan offered at Fordham. It allows students to eat most of their meals at the Fordham dining option and costs $3,710 per semester. 

SmartAsset, a financial technology company that shares tools about personal finance decisions, calculated that “groceries in New York City typically cost about $486.71 a month, per person,” which means that budgeting your own groceries can save you nearly $2,000 on average over the course of a semester.

Not only is home cooking great for your mental health, it’s better for your physical health as well.

College students are understandably busy, but taking the time to try a new recipe is a great way to step back from stressors and treat yourself while still doing something productive and necessary. Instead of considering cooking as a waste of time, think about it as a form of self-care with the added bonus of developing a lifelong skill.

Learning to cook can be a daunting undertaking, especially when you’re starting from scratch. The hardest part of any lifestyle change is the first step. For home cooking, that first step is buying your groceries. Shopping for ingredients may seem intimidating, but with the right preparation you can make it work: Have a plan, set a budget and adjust based on what you end up eating most.

If you don’t know where to start, I would recommend learning how to roast vegetables in the oven. They make a delicious low-effort side dish, and all you need to do is pop them in and wait. That’s about as beginner-friendly as it gets. 

I find carrots and potatoes to be the most forgiving in terms of cooking time and temperature in the oven, but don’t be afraid to try your favorite vegetables. Experiment with a variety of herbs and seasonings to find what you like best.

Once you’ve conquered the basics, keep trying new recipes and different techniques. The internet is your best friend! When looking for recipes I recommend including “beginner” in your search and reading all of the instructions before you decide to try it. If it looks too advanced for you, find another one that seems more manageable. Starting simple and working your way up will yield the most consistent and delicious results.

There are so many resources to get better at cooking, from the internet to cookbooks to personal cooking classes in New York City. Whatever your budget or goal is, putting a little bit of time and a lot of love into learning to cook is one of the best investments college students can make. 

Meal prepping and cooking are also effective ways to ground yourself during hectic times during the semester. While I love trying out new recipes, I’ve found that it is helpful to master a few staple dishes that don’t require many ingredients — that way, you can whip up a quick meal to get yourself out of a funk.

Not only is home cooking great for your mental health, it’s better for your physical health as well. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that “cooking dinner frequently at home is associated with consumption of a healthier diet.” By preparing the food you eat, you have much more control over what you are putting into your body.

Whatever your budget or goal is, putting a little bit of time and a lot of love into learning to cook is one of the best investments college students can make.

I should note here that while eating healthy is important, that means something different for everybody. Remember to always listen to what your body is telling you. Diet culture can become toxic when it overrides a positive relationship with food.

I will admit that I think a lot about what I eat, and sometimes it’s hard for me to eat certain foods without feeling guilty. But at the end of the meal I ask myself if I enjoyed it, and that is my baseline for a healthy diet. Although I try to keep my fridge full of healthy foods, I still keep a stockpile of frozen pizzas because sometimes that’s just what I need. College is a stressful time, and maintaining a healthy relationship with food is one way to ease that burden.

With that being said, when I started buying ingredients for my meals, I became more conscious of the foods I am eating. It led to a healthier balance of foods in my fridge and made me more curious to try foods and recipes I had never considered before. I started cooking with ingredients such as chickpeas and asparagus, which are both nutritious and tasty and have become some of my staples.

Cooking at home can also bring the joy of sharing a meal prepared with love. Some of my most cherished memories from my dorming experience are of communal meals where my friends and I would gather in a kitchen, each bringing one component to contribute to a shared multi-course dinner.

The time we spent cooking dishes like dumplings, rice cakes and vegetable stir-fry and eating them together created a special bond among us. Those meals were a chance to talk about our days and our lives, sharing our hopes for the future and troubles from the week. Food serves as a conduit for connection, which is essential for us when college, especially in such a big city, can be such an isolating experience.

We need food to survive, and connecting with others is a basic human desire. Cooking and sharing a meal together fulfills both of these needs, and it is a wonderful way to show how much you care about someone. Sharing home cooked food with your friends and loved ones is a simple yet meaningful way to give back to the people in your life.

Home cooking is cheaper than a meal plan, it’s good for your physical and mental health, and it creates community. Best of all, anyone can cook! So what are you waiting for? Get in that McMahon kitchen and make a meal.



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About the Contributors
MATTHIAS LAI, Opinions Editor
Matthias Lai (he/him), FCLC ’25, is a head opinions editor at The Observer. He is a journalism major who loves exploring and learning about New York City. He spends his free time baking, reading and enjoying the view from his rooftop.
ALYSSA SHONK, Former Layout Editor
Alyssa Shonk (she/her), FCLC ’26, is a former layout editor at The Observer. She is an English major with an interest in creative writing and digital design. She was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania — yes, where “The Office” is. She is constantly looking for a good book to read or a beautiful landscape to inspire her writing. When she isn’t working at The Observer, she is walking around New York City to find the best local coffee shop, and recommendations are welcome.

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