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The Quad: UCLA students consider challenges, benefits to cooking in apartments

(Vaibhavi Patankar/Daily Bruin)

By Nicole Wu

Aug. 15, 2022 11:48 a.m.

As UCLA enters a new academic year, it comes time for many Bruins to trade in their dorm meal plans for the pots and pans of cooking in apartments.

For Bruins who will either be cooking for the first time or revisiting an old craft, the experience comes with excitement and a new outlook in comparison to dorm food.

Rising third-year human biology and society student Kelly Kaon said she likes the flexibility cooking in an apartment offers.

“The dining halls are closed from I think 10 (a.m.) to 11 (a.m.) and then 3 (p.m.) to 5 (p.m.), and it’s just like these awkward periods where you want to eat, but you can’t really go to the dining halls,” Kaon said. “Transitioning to the apartments, that’s definitely going to be better. We don’t have to stick to such a strict feeding schedule.”

Not only is there more flexibility in when students can eat, but there is also more variety in the food that Bruins living in apartments are able to cook.

Rising third-year chemical engineering student Emily Chang said she is looking forward to the various types of foods she will be able to make in the apartments.

“I’m really excited to be able to cook a big pot of soup and then kind of be able to share that with my roommates,” Chang said. “And also I can just keep it in the fridge, and it makes a really easy meal.”

But for some students, making the transition to living in the apartments can be more of a challenge.

Kaon said it can be difficult when meal prep plans are disturbed, such as when friends want to go to restaurants, because of the time and money often spent on groceries and preparing food.

“There’s this additional pressure of you needing to eat things before they go bad because if they do go bad, it’s the money that you spent on groceries and all that,” Kaon said. “So I think it’s hard when you have spontaneous plans like that when you’ve already planned out your schedule.”

The time, money and decisions that come alongside grocery shopping are also factors Bruins must consider when it comes to navigating apartment life.

Rising third-year communication student Krezzia Basilio said it can be nerve-wracking to be the one buying groceries for herself each week and budgeting for each trip. However, Basilio added that she is grateful to have qualified for CalFresh, a government-run program that provides food stamps for those who qualify.

“I still haven’t felt the benefits of it yet, but I am already anticipating how much money I’ll be saving and how I can use those funds for other stuff,” Basilio said.

Another potentially daunting aspect of cooking in an apartment can be learning to balance one’s time inside and outside the kitchen.

Basilio added that she will need to fit cooking in with an already busy schedule that includes classes, student organizations and managing an apartment instead of a dorm.

“(At home), I cooked when I wanted to, which I think is really different because now it’s like, ‘Oh you have to cook if you want to eat,’” Basilio said.

But Kaon added that the time commitment might not actually be all that different from eating on the Hill.

“If you kind of justify the time you’re spending in line, the time you’re eating at BPlate (Bruin Plate), the time you’re walking down to BPlate and getting there, … I think the time would probably be the same,” Kaon said.

Though there may be more factors to consider when cooking in an apartment instead of simply walking into a dining hall to eat every day, some Bruins agree that it is important for eating well to be a priority.

Basilio said meal preparation can encourage healthier eating habits amid a busy college schedule.

“I know in college, a lot of people, they tend to deprioritize their food in general, like their own physical health for other things,” Basilio said. “Just making sure that you always have food accessible to you and you’re preparing early, I think, is a really important part, especially going into the school year where we’re not going to have a lot of time to cook.”

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