From canteens to kitchen at home: UF students discuss college eating habits

Rachel Warren’s introduction to food independence was marked by ever-changing platters of food thanks to UF’s Meal Plan. The experiment has been a scary undertaking for the 19-year-old new to grazing territory this year.

Raised by a Korean mother, Warren grew up on foods spicy with red pepper and gochujang, a red chili paste common in Korean soups and fish dishes.

“Adjusting to a zero-spice diet was very different for me,” she said. “I will definitely like to go back there for the summer and eat Korean food with my mom and get the spice back in my life.”

However, the change hasn’t been so bad for Warren, who has come to enjoy the accessibility of buffet-style food centers within walking distance of her dormitory at Rawlings Hall.

She joins hundreds of hungry students who line up permanently in cafes on campus. After a full day of lectures and textbook chapters, they are ready to be served a hearty dinner of grilled chicken, smoked ham, mixed vegetables and pasta topped with tomato sauce and fresh basil on wooden plates. hard plastic.

Image has become the new normal for many now at the mercy of self-sufficiency as they enter college life.

“It’s very convenient to go meet people I know and have lunch with a buddy without really planning it,” Warren said.

The psychology major enjoyed being introduced to new varieties of foods that she has since loved, such as barbecue chicken.

Moving to a declining sale in the fall of 2022, she plans to spend more time preparing many of the pasta salads, egg salads, and other childhood favorites. However, having the dining halls just around the corner will be an easy alternative for Warren whenever she runs out of ingredients.

Committing to this less inclusive meal plan will mark a milestone for the freshman. Realizing it’s time to learn to cook, Warren begins to enter the world of adulthood.

Planning meals while living at UF was an even more daunting task for Shayna Schulman, a 22-year-old political science student. As the first in her family to attend college, she adapted to a new way of eating on her own.

After a friend advised her against the on-campus meal plan before she arrived on campus, Schulman became her own personal chef.

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The most difficult adjustment for Schulman has been feasting on the same platters of pasta, pizza and sandwiches every week to avoid overspending and waste.

“When I was home with my family we had something different every night, but when I got to college I was doing something and had it for the next three to four days.”

Schulman’s cooking endeavors were further complicated by the distance to his ingredients. She walked nearly ten blocks from Yulee Hall to Publix on Northwest 13th Street to get her quintessential deli meats, frozen meatballs and pasta sauces.

The transition to off-campus life has eased these barriers. The resources in Schulman’s apartment allowed him to cook more meals for himself.

“I now have a full fridge with my roommate, so I have room to store things longer than the mini-fridge you may have in your dorm room,” she said. “Now that I have a full-size kitchen, I can research recipes and do more fun or complicated things.”

Drawing inspiration from her roommates and social media, Schulman expanded her taste outside of the traditional American meatloaf and chicken dishes her family made growing up. She even recreated the Instagram influencer by Kirra Graham “Moroccan Glow Bowl”, a Moroccan-inspired blend of chickpeas, eggplant, tomatoes, couscous and spices like cumin and turmeric.

Nadia Kabbej, Schulman’s roommate, also of Moroccan descent, shared a similar experience with Schulman in her freshman year.

The 22-year-old applied physiology and kinesiology senior was raised cooking meats and roasting vegetables with her parents before moving to Simpson Hall in the fall of 2018. She quickly learned that it would take a lot more work. trying to eat without a meal plan.

True to her Moroccan heritage, Kabbej sought to recreate the staple cooking dinners she prepared with her father. However, her dorm deprived her of the space to keep the pots, pans and meats needed to elevate those Middle Eastern dishes like she did at home.

Where she didn’t have access to traditional lamb in her homemade couscous dishes, she began turning to salmon and other meats she could find at local grocery stores.

Like her roommate, access to more groceries and kitchen appliances has allowed Kabbej to divulge previously unknown recipes.

“I feel like I’ve started incorporating different flavors and spices into my meals,” she said. “I started going to the Asian market and finding some ingredients there.”

Greek moussaka, Chinese dumplings, Japanese miso soup and Middle Eastern harissa lined Kabbej’s kitchen counter as she develops the culinary skills needed for life after college.

“I think a lot of people mistakenly think that cooking alone is more difficult or takes more time,” she said. “Actually, if you just take an hour or two on a Sunday and plan what you’re doing…it’s worth it to me.”

Contact Jared Teitel @[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jaredteitel.

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Freeda S. Scott