The intricate artistry of student cooking is one of the distinct hobbies through which Georgetown University students differentiate themselves on the hilltop. Withdrawing from a meal plan and choosing to cook for oneself in dorm rooms and common rooms is a decision that upperclassmen can make, with lower costs and potentially healthier options acting as significant draws.
The transition to cooking opens up new windows of opportunities for many students since cooking for themselves allows them far more freedom in what types of meals they choose to eat while maintaining a level of fiscal responsibility. The work and incentive behind each student’s personalized cooking adventures makes every dish special in its own right.
While some students take a creative approach to their cooking, others opt for simple meals that are easy to prepare but delicious nonetheless. Nicolo Ferretti (SFS ’21), who describes himself as a dedicated chef and avid lover of food, aims to find a balance between more complex concoctions and quicker meals to fit his busy schedule.
“I make a lot of Mexican food, like quesadillas and such, because it’s just easy, I can just warm it up,” Ferretti said in an interview with The Hoya.
Ferretti, who recently won the Georgetown University Student Association executive election alongside Vice President Bryce Badger (MSB ’21), enjoys preparing his favorite dish, risotto, as he did for his campaign party after the election results were announced.
“I buy vegetable broth at Trader Joe’s, and I ordered a pound of arborio rice from Amazon to make the risotto,” Feretti said. “Actually, for my campaign party, I made pounds of risotto to serve to people there so that would be my go-to dish.”
As a vegetarian, Nicole Gaisford (COL ’21) finds cooking on campus an easier and cheaper way to fulfill her dietary desires. Although Gaisford usually cooks for herself, she also enjoys cooking her favorite vegetarian meals for her roommates.
“I usually cook lots of pasta since I’m vegetarian, mainly vegetable dishes with cauliflower and broccoli,” Gaisford said in an interview with The Hoya. “My favorite thing I cook is rice and tofu, which I cook for my roommates or when I’m hosting an event for underclassmen.”
While Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue has long been a cheap and convenient option for groceries, the opening of Trader Joe’s a few blocks north of Safeway, much closer than its previous location near George Washington University, has diversified the ingredients students use for cooking. Not only does Trader Joe’s stock a wide variety of specialized cooking ingredients, but they also stock a vast selection of ready-made frozen meals that are both delectable and relatively simple to make.
Trader Joe’s premade meals are especially popular among students, as they offer an easy way to satisfy hunger with a variety of flavors, according to Ariana Roberts (COL ’21), who cooks in her Henle apartment.
“I really enjoy the Trader Joe’s premade meals because they’re the easiest, like the gnocchi, for example, or their pre-made meatballs,” Roberts said in an interview with The Hoya. “You just put them on the skillet and warm them up, and that’s just a really easy dinner, and it tastes really good.”
Both Gaisford and Ferretti share a similar love for Trader Joe’s, saying how almost all of the food ingredients they buy come from there.
“I get almost all my food from Trader Joe’s,” Ferretti said. “They have the best vegetarian options and it’s just way cheaper than Safeway.”
While much of the decision to cook in dorms is driven by the desire for more favorable food items, the cost of the meal plan can ultimately lead some students to switch off of it and expand their diets. Being in control of what and how many food items they purchase allows students to have a far more inexpensive and personalized dining experience, according to Ferretti.
“I’m just kind of frustrated with dining at Georgetown in general,” Ferretti said, “The prices are so high considering how little you get and I just know what I enjoy.”
While some students struggle to balance finding time to cook and saving money from not being on the meal plan with eating out, cooking for oneself ends up being a beneficial arrangement in the end, according to Gaisford.
“It ends up being cheaper, and I can pick what I eat more,” Gaisford said. “It can definitely be tempting to eat out more, but I would say I definitely end up spending less on food overall and it’s a good experience.”