Sunday, February 20, 2011

College Life

A while back I was asked about food for their college child that was Celiac. Going away to college is stressful enough without having to accommodate special needs. It is difficult at best trying to cook in a shared house as it is, let alone being Celiac on top of it. I suggested to them that they get a small crock pot for one person.

 Since there was really no place for him in the really glutened kitchen for him to "cook" in without the chance of contamination, he was going to have to set up his little kitchen by his bedroom door. Get a roll away cart that has a chopping board on top and drawers down below. (Target for about 40 bucks) He can store veggies like potatoes, hard squash etc. on the bottom drawer, fruits and some veggies in the middle drawer and implements and kitchen towels in the top drawer.

The side should have a place to hang a towel and there should be a place to "clip on a light" if needed. It should have a cover over the roll away that extends down to almost the floor, and it must be washable.

Hopefully he has a friend that he can split some of the food costs with. You can't cut something open and not put it in a refrigerator. He should have a small dorm fridge next to the cooking area. If he has a friend with a freezer that would be helpful if he can share it. Or get a mini freezer.

 For spices his mom had an old bathroom "over the toilet" little cupboard type thing which she cleaned and painted. Looks brand new. Here he will don his spices and he said "whatever will fit", like garlic bulbs or small containers of dried pasta. Mom put the dried pasta in zip lock bags for storage but put some for everyday use in 1/2 pint washable and reusable mason jars. Hooks on the sides hold utensils. One side for cooking the other for eating. Snacks are usually on the top shelf. Muahhh importante`.

We all know how tight a room can get. He will need a small garbage can for all the kitchen trash next to the roll away that he can take out daily or after he cooks. Some small containers for any left overs...usually not necessary, go ghetto and recycle butter, sour cream, and cheese spread containers for leftovers. If really lucky, a small microwave would be ideal. A baked potato takes about 7-8 minutes. Says he has plenty of paper plates and cups. Most of the time he just eats right out of the crock pot.

He can purchase Betty Crocker Mashed Potato Buds. GF canned foods such as soups, chili, etc. Wash veggies as soon as you get home and pre-cut them for the week and store in little bags labeled for what meal or what you plan on using them for. Including meat, can be marinading at this time. He also has his Mason "cookie" Jar. Apparently there is a gluten free store not all that far from the college he can visit by using the bus system. A little  metal pull cart with good wheels that folds up for the groceries would be ideal.

We talked about what he could have on his diet, where he would purchase baked goods if needed. His mom is going to find a good crock pot recipe book that he can use as a basic starting point and adjust ingredients as needed. I told her to have him do a week or two worth of dry runs to work out any problems he might have. She ended up making an online cookbook for him cutting down regular recipes into single serving recipes for him to follow. He gave it two weeks worth of work and decided he could easily do this as he prefers fresh foods and likes to cook.

Update....School has it's adjustments but the food problem isn't one anymore. He loves coming home from school knowing that dinner awaits him. Sometimes he goes out to eat, there are some gf friendly places on campus or he says, he loads up on any goodies at the CSA meeting he attends on campus. They love him and make sure he is getting plenty to eat. He says they are full of great ideas.

 He even makes breakfast in his crock pot. He get's up, sprays oilve oil into his little pot, mixes in 2 large eggs with salt and pepper. Puts on a timer and goes back to bed. Eggs are ready when he is. apparently he makes a mean omelet in it. He has "baked" apples with cinnamon and nutmeg for his "apple pie" craving. Made Orange chicken, and is attempting to bake bread; don't know how that's going to work. Maybe he means biscuits? Hopefully he will keep us informed. I was wondering if he could do poached eggs. I love how creative he is.

So, if you have a child that is going away to college, give these ideas a try. It works for these two. Mom knows her boy is eating and eating well, he loves the fresh food he makes himself. He spends less money on food than his friends so he saves that money for trips home to visit family. Sounds good to me! I am glad that it is working out for them. Know that it can be done with a little adjustments, and planning ahead.

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