Young, Independent, and Hungry – Finding Reasonable Eating Habits While Living On Your Own

Family Bridges

Young, Independent, and Hungry – Finding Reasonable Eating Habits While Living On Your Own

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

At the age of 21, I packed my bags and left my childhood home for a one-bedroom apartment in the Chicago suburbs. While living on my own with my rescue pup has been pleasant, one of the biggest challenges that I have faced has been building new eating habits. Growing up, my mom cooked dinner every night, and my meal options were pretty healthy and well-rounded. Rice with beans and plantains, grilled steak salads, and sandwiches stuffed with sliced avocadoes and greens were staples back at home. I didn’t have to worry about planning the meal, buying the groceries, or cooking the meal. All I had to do was set the table and clean up the dishes.

Now I am on my own, and everything from grocery shopping to cooking is in my hands. While this may sound great to those of you who are still with your parents, trust me when I say that balancing a grocery budget, throwing together some semblance of a meal plan, grocery shopping, and cooking is a major hassle. What really has thrown a wrench in my eating habits is that I don’t like to cook. I am not sure why, but nothing seems to taste right when I cook. Some people have described cooking to me as an artistic, soul-liberating process. For me, it is an overwhelming chore.

To keep from blowing all of my budget on eating out, I have had to develop a game plan to get my eating habits back on track:

  1. Buddy up. My boyfriend and I have a system where I will go grocery shopping, he will cook the food, and we will divvy up the spoils in containers for future lunches. Maybe you hate cooking, but you have a roommate or boyfriend who loves to cook? Talk about dividing the grocery tab, and in exchange for their cooking offer to do the dishes. Everybody is fed, and everybody wins.
  2. Make a meal plan. I get really overwhelmed when I go to the grocery store, and can spend a full hour wandering around aisles wondering what to buy. Before I head out, I make a list with ingredients for breakfast, snacks, and dinner (my lunches are usually leftovers from dinner). Going in with a plan makes the trip faster, and also keeps me from impulsively throwing things into my cart that I won’t end up eating.
  3. Toss in variety. I usually eat out when I am bored of the food options I have at home, so I try not repeating meals too often. Some people are comfortable with having the same staples every week (Meatloaf Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc.) but I need variety. For example, I will usually plan to have oats with berries and almond butter as one breakfast option, and hashbrowns with eggs as a back-up option. If I get tired of one of those meals, I will switch them out for protein pancakes or yogurt parfaits. There are a ton of meal ideas online – search the internet and make a list of meal ideas that you would like to try out.
  4. Pack it up. Like I mentioned earlier, I usually pack leftovers from dinner for lunch. One of my co-workers cooks and packs the next day’s lunch before going to bed. Having something pre-packed and ready-to-go makes it easier to ensure that you won’t run to the fast-food joint next door or skip lunch all together.

I hope that this article is helpful to some of my readers who are also struck with dread when it comes to managing a kitchen, or to those looking to attain more regular eating habits.

Happy Munching!

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