Check out these culinary tips to enhance meals

These mid-quarantine culinary essentials will help transform the tedium of being at home into an opportunity to create easy, delicious dishes. Trade that typical college student diet for meal prepping and simple but tasty recipes!

During this shelter in place, you may be experiencing meals that just taste the same. Sure, ramen and easy mac are reliable and time-tested options for college students. But don’t fret, I’m here to provide you with quick and easy tips that will forever alter your culinary skills during this quarantine. 

1. Buy in bulk

With the quarantine in mind, this will be an essential strategy to staving off hunger when the moment strikes. Stocking up on everything from lunch meat to bread, even snacks will prevent you from having to constantly go to the supermarket. If you buy groceries, they should last you at least two weeks, if not more. 

Suggested meal: Lunch wrap with chips

This simple and easy meal satisfies the need for a midday snack. All you have to do is take your favorite type of lunch meat, add in some toppings (like bell peppers for example), and douse with sauce (like honey mustard or honey barbeque sauce). Complement the wrap with chips of your choice and a cup of water. Then you have a filling lunch. 

2. Meal prep

This is something I’ve only taken up recently, but it works wonders if you do it the right way. Not only is it efficient because you are spending less time cooking, but it is also effective because it only requires the use of a microwave to reheat the next day’s meal. This works especially well when work piles on and you simply don’t have the time to prepare a meal from scratch. 

Suggested meal: Oven-baked chicken breasts with rice and potatoes

This meal will only take about 20-30 minutes to complete, and if done with a high quantity of ingredients, can create up to three meals. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and season the chicken on both sides. Throw in the chicken for about 20 minutes. To expedite the process, buy 90-second rice and microwavable potatoes and heat them up while the chicken is cooking. Top the chicken with some A1 sauce and you’ll start feeling like a kitchen veteran. 

3. Take advantage of frozen goods

Frozen items are awesome because they can last a while without going bad. Maybe they get a bad rap for tasting bland or not having that element of freshness, but, if scoped out correctly, there is a lot of room for potential. 

Suggested meal: Frozen pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Why waste extra money on delivery for a pizza when you can heat one up in the comfort of your own home? Look for some of the larger and better-priced frozen pizzas. Personally, I would suggest Freschetta or Newman’s Own frozen pizzas. They have options for plain, pepperoni or even supreme, so the opportunity to mix and match is an option prevalent. After preheating the oven, I recommend baking the pizza for at least as long as the second number in the suggested cook time. This way your pizza won’t end up snapping apart and tasting like a mouthful of the cardboard box it came in. 

4. Dominate the air fryer

Let me tell you — an air fryer does magical things. And it’s growing more popular as an alternative to the greasy, sloppy mess that is deep frying. Not only does using an air fryer produce a healthier product, it is also extremely versatile. You can cook everything from frozen goods to fresh items, and you still get the same effect as frying it in a pan. I’ve found the food actually tastes better out of it, and as an added bonus, there are a medley of brands beginning to roll out their own versions of it. 

Suggested meal: Loaded tater tots

This is another recipe that doesn’t take very long to cook, and it makes for a tasty late-night snack. Buy frozen tater tots and place the desired amount into the air fryer tray. Cook for 10 minutes at 400 degrees for a crispy but edible outcome. Next, top with queso blanco and bacon bits. You won’t regret it!