When I was five, I hated broccoli. I would scream and choke and run away for fear that I would have to eat broccoli. Cauliflower I would eat, sometimes, if my dad melted enough cheese on top. Brussel sprouts? Never.

These reactions to food are similar to how I believe a lot of college students feel about cooking. No judgement, by the way. I would much rather dump a can of soup into a pot and heat it up than roast a chicken and use the leftovers to make my own homemade broth. To some, students will always be stuck in a Campbell’s soup frame of mind, and that’s totally fine. But, for me at least, my taste buds have been affected by a mixture of maturation and already decreasing metabolism and I now crave a grilled salmon over fish sticks.

(That comparison was mostly made for effect rather than truth. I actually sincerely dislike fish sticks and have not had one since elementary school. I do, however, sincerely love salmon.)

I have always been a decent “chef.” My parents worked a lot growing up, and so I had plenty of opportunities to start experimenting in the kitchen by myself from a young age. My mom taught me fractions using measuring cups for baking in kindergarten, making me feel right at home behind the stove when I began to move from baking brownies to roasting a chicken. Since the beginning of high school, my mom and dad would offhandedly describe what they were doing when making dishes such as chicken cacciatore, brisket, tilapia with asparagus, etc. So I’m very confident in saying that when I cook, the food comes out to an edible degree.

So, the problem in college isn’t that I prefer pizza rolls to a homemade whole-wheat crust margherita pizza garnished with fresh basil. It’s that there isn’t enough time in the day to spend creating food compared to just heating it up. To me, this is the “pizza-roll aesthetic,” in which it is almost fashionable to use the kitchen as an oversized microwave in college.

Don’t confuse a want for already prepared foods as being lazy. I maintain an A GPA average, am the president of a pre-law sorority, secretary of a law society, work in four major roles at the Daily (columnist, women’s basketball beat writer, sports night editor and recruitment chair) and hold a job as a barista at a coffee shop. When I come home at the end of the day, I am looking for something that only requires me to stand up for no longer than 10 minutes. Past that threshold, I refuse to do anything but cuddle in my bed and watch Netflix. Judging by my roommates and friends, that sentiment is shared by a lot of my peers — sans the occasional spurt of culinary energy and motivation.

But as senior year wears on, I’m more aware of the fact that when I leave college I will no longer feel the “pizza-roll aesthetic” will apply to my life. Or rather, I will feel unaccomplished if it does apply. For me, I’m capable of more. I’m capable of a “Julia-Child aesthetic.” A lot of that, though, begins with grocery shopping and trying new things. I’m not suggesting to seniors that we immediately replace our beloved pizza rolls with intimidating dishes like Thai-style meatballs and roasted butternut squash. I am suggesting that we start to strive to make those dishes our goal, while evolving pizza rolls into an indulgent 2 a.m. snack.

I’m 20 years old now. I’ve had skewered octopus in Japan, alligator in New Orleans, pig cheek in Spain, cacti in New Mexico and lobster ice cream in Cape Cod — and I still refuse to eat broccoli. I still dislike cauliflower. But I will now make, and then eat, brussel sprouts if they’re roasted to the point of being charred crisps with no semblance of green left.

So, I guess that’s me maturing.

How to: Grocery shop and not buy pizza rolls

  1. Coupon AF
  2. Get the whole-wheat bread
  3. Frozen vegetables? Canned vegetables? Girl.
  4. If you’re working with a budget, get the generic brand
  5. It actually tastes just as good, Buzzfeed Video has proven this
  6. Don’t overbuy; if you see something you might use maybe, don’t get it
  7. Chips and salsa are a staple and/or hummus and pita
  8. Buy that instead of your next bag of potato chips
  9. Caveat: If you are planning on engaging in nighttime fun, make sure your drunchies are satiated at home so you don’t feel the need to go out and spend money at 2 a.m.
  10. If you can’t cook, no worries; practice makes perfect
  11. Food is love, food is life
  12. Get all the free samples

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