Follow these 10 easy tips from our UHDS Nutrition Education Outreach team:

So you’re moving out of the dorms soon and off to the world of independent living. Now that you won’t be eating from a campus dining center and your mother isn’t around to cook your meals, what are you going to do? Don’t worry! Here at UHDS we gathered information from Dietitians, Chefs, and fellow students to offer you some advice on how to eat well off campus. Preparing meals at home is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for your health! Don’t think you need to resort to fast food and ramen noodles to survive, check out the following for information to get you started.

When stocking your home with cooking essentials, consider cookware, food staples, and accessory items. Here is a list of some of the absolute staples you will need to get you going:

1. First, you need to invest in some basic cookware.

Our chefs recommend a medium sized frying pan, stainless steel with non-stick Teflon inside, as well as a medium pot. Together you can cook almost anything just with these two. It’s better to go for quality over quantity when it comes to cookware.

2. Next you need some knives so you don’t end up like this lady and resort to using a doorstop...

If you only get ONE knife, we recommend a chef knife, which you can cut most things with (vegetables, meat, cheese, etc.). The second and third place finishers in the knife contest would be a bread knife, used for the obvious of cutting bread but also for other chopping/slicing jobs, and a paring knife, used for more precision cutting.

3. Don’t forget that you need some accessory tools to get you mixing, scooping, and flipping your way to good food.

Consider the types of recipes and cooking you will mostly do and equip yourself accordingly. For a complete list of kitchen accessories to choose from, check out this list from our friends at Food Hero!

4. Next you need to consider the food staples to keep stocked in your house…

Don’t worry, shopping for the right foods won’t be as scary as this panda makes it seem.

We asked our Registered Dietitian Tara Sanders, what she thought some of the best items are to keep stocked, and she said “save money and buy in bulk! There are a lot of staple foods that can be used in a variety of meals,” and when it comes to buying fresh foods, “most people throw away about half of their produce when it spoils, so don’t buy more than few days’ worth at a time. Some of her favorites include:

Pantry foods: Low sodium canned beans and vegetables, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, canned tuna and chicken

Fresh foods: eggs, fruit, low fat yogurt & cottage cheese, mixed greens, potatoes, onions, bell peppers

Frozen foods: chicken breast, frozen fruit and vegetables, bread, fish, leftovers

Others: Oil (olive or other vegetable), spices, baking powder, baking soda, sugar/honey, flour.

OSU Chef Jay Perry says “spices can take you through a world of flavors! You can cook a piece of chicken many different ways (Thai, bbq, Indian, etc.) and keep your food interesting.” Our friend Emeril would agree…

5. Lastly, don’t forget you’ll need some stuff to package, store, and transport all of your tasty food!

You don’t need to be overwhelmed with Tupperware, just stick to the basics:

1. Portable/reusable containers that you can use to take meals to campus and store leftovers; remember you only need a few!

2. Foil, Saran wrap, and Ziploc freezer bags to seal off food for storage in your Fridge, freezer, or cupboards.

Certainly there are more things you can buy, but this is a good foundation to get you going. Thanks for reading, and remember: You don’t have to be as skilled as this guy…

As professional as this guy…

Or have as much fun as these girls…

…to be successful cooking at home.

For more tips on planning, recipes, and shopping from our awesome campus resource Food Hero, click here!

Jonathan Wymore, OSU Dietetic Intern