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The (In)Convenience of Cooking

March 25, 2010

We have spent a lot of time in class talking about how many American do not cook because it is too inconvenient. While signing up for housing and a meal plan for next year I decided to go off the meal plan and cook for myself. It seemed worthwhile monetarily and I was incredibly excited for the chance to make my own meals, especially after taking this class. However, after talking to my mother I decided to get back on the meal plan, although I chose the small 100-block. Her argument for the convenience of the dining hall was just too strong for me give it up all together. My current plan is to cook most of my meals and only use meal swipes when need necessitates it, such as nights that I have lab or am too tired to cook.

I find it ironic that I’m getting back on the meal plan next year for the sake of convenience when I will be spending a lot of next week cooking because of its convenience. Passover, a Jewish holiday with many special dietary requirements, begins next Monday night. While Case does offer kosher meals for the week-long holiday, they are only served at Leutner. The amount of time that I would spend trekking back and forth across campus for these meals does not seem worth it. It is easier to cook meals for myself than it is to go across campus for the kosher meal or to try to figure out which dishes in Fribley are okay to eat.

I’m sure that by the time Passover is over I will be more than happy to return to Fribley and eat whatever meal the chefs choose to make us. I guess my mom was right; the convenience of having food cooked for you is great. But, I’m still excited to keep some freedom next year to be able to cook when I feel like it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. jpeugh permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:45 am

    The idea of cooking in a college setting is an interesting topic for this course. We have discussed how cooking for a family brings people together in a unique way: to bond over the preparation and consumption of food. But what about college students cooking for only themselves? Are the benefits of cooking a meal every night worth the amount of time that it takes to buy the ingredients, cook the meal, eat, and then clean up the kitchen?

    My first year in college, I was on the university meal plan. I used university facilities for food between two and three times a day, everyday. I found that I usually spent between 20 and 30 minutes there for breakfast and lunch, but upwards of 45 to 60 minutes at the dining halls for dinner. However, eating dinner was as much a social experience as it was a necessity. I would always go with a group of friends and chat away. I never felt that excessive amounts of my time were wasted at the dining halls or that it in any way took away from my studies. Other than the usual complaints of getting bored with the food, I found the university meal plan to be quite satisfactory in both nutrition and social opportunities.

    The summer after my first year in college, I decided to stay on campus and take two summer courses. However, the university does not offer any dining options during the summer so I was left to prepare all of my meals for myself. Breakfasts and lunches were simple enough with a granola bar with fruit and a sandwich with vegetables, but dinners proved to be more of a challenge. One of my roommates and I decided to take turns preparing dinners. During my cooking nights I spent around 45 to 60 minutes in preparation, 20 to 30 in eating and talking, and about 20 in cleaning (oh how I miss my dishwasher at home!). I also took weekly trips to the grocery store which meant planning out a week’s worth of meals, going to the store, and then putting all of the food away.

    In comparing my two experiences, I found that I definitely spent more time cooking than I did when simply going to the dining hall (what a surprise). I also spent less time with people when preparing my own food. Cooking for myself really gave me an opportunity to take on extra responsibility in the pursuit of a more independent life, but that was during the summer when class obligations were much smaller than my average 19 credit hours during the school year. I definitely agree that the minimal meal swipes for the fall semester 2010 gives an excellent opportunity to preserve time when necessary but to also give the opportunity to students to gain more freedom through self reliance.

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