Tips for stocking your pantry, homemaking away from home and making your parents proud.

Photo by Brennan Booker

Living off-campus often means swapping your student meal plan and all of the food campus eateries such as Russell House have to offer for home-cooked meals. After a year of ready-made options, many students are left wondering where to even begin. If you’re new to off-campus living, here are three tips to stocking your pantry for success.

Plan Ahead

One of the most common pantry-stocking mistakes students make is buying too many snacks and not enough ingredients for actual meals. No, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen do not constitute meals. To combat this faux pas, plan out your meals at the beginning of the week, so when you do get to the grocery store, you know exactly what you need. For example, an easy meal to rely on for most is grilled chicken, a vegetable and whatever starch you prefer (sweet potatoes, pasta — you get the idea). Planning makes meal time that much easier!

Stock Up on Favorites

If planning is near impossible for you, then opt for bulk packaging instead. This way, when you’re in a rush, you’ll have at least something to grab on your way out the door. Great examples of this are protein bars, snack-sized treats packed in Ziplock bags or pre-made microwave meals. Be careful you’re not relying too heavily on high carb or high fat snacks, though. One way to avoid this is by making your own trail mix or throwing in your favorite vegetables or fruits for easy snacking throughout the day.

Keep Spices Around

Seasoning is the holy grail when it comes to food prep, but chances are, if you’re new to living off-campus, you didn’t even think twice about the spices you needed for your pantry. Simple additions like salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne and granulated garlic make every meal taste better. Plus, kitchen snapshots are trending on Instagram, so buying a trendy spice rack might even get you more likes on the social media sharing platform.

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