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The cost of living on campus is steadily increasing, and finding ways to save money is becoming more important than ever. One place to start is to ditch the meal plan and cook for yourself. Meal plans can be great, but they're also boring and expensive. If you've never cooked before but want to save money, this fall is the perfect time to try it out, as the Friendsgiving invites start rolling in. 

As someone who didn't start cooking until my second year in college, I understand how intimidating recipes can be, especially when you don't have a fully stocked kitchen. The great thing about cooking is you don't need to know or have everything to start. It's not as hard as it seems, and the payoff is better than dinner at Case.

Luckily, Friendsgiving is right around the corner and a perfect opportunity to give cooking a shot with these recipes. From baked dishes to hot soups, these meals will keep you and your friends warm and cozy this fall. 

Baked Spaghetti

Baked spaghetti has been my go-to dinner lately. It’s fast and simple, so you can make it after a long school day without too much effort. The recipe linked above makes six servings, so you make it once and it’ll last for a few days, or you can bring it to Friendsgiving to share with everyone. 

This is also a versatile dish. You can make it  with ground turkey, ground beef or forgo meat altogether and make it vegetarian with ingredients like mushrooms, zucchini or more. 

Potatoes Au Gratin

The best part about Thanksgiving is the sides, and a beloved classic is potatoes au gratin. This is one of my favorite recipes because it combines two of my favorite things: cheese and potatoes. Like the baked spaghetti, there’s enough to serve a crowd and can make any fall potluck a little more complete. 

This recipe is incredibly simple and doesn’t require lots of ingredients. For students that haven’t cooked a lot and aren’t comfortable with complex steps, this recipe is perfect because it’s hard to mess up.

Hearty Potato Soup

When it’s cold outside, you need a recipe that will fill you up. Like the best winter meals, a bowl of soup acts as your personal space heater, and this potato soup recipe does the job. It’s good enough to be eaten on its own, but you can make it even heartier by pouring it over rice. Last year during the Winter Olympics, this was my go-to to eat while wrapped in fuzzy blankets in front of the TV. It’s easy to make a big batch with plenty to go around and will pair great with your Friendsgiving rolls or as a side to your turkey entrée.

Butter Chicken

Thanksgiving food has almost everything except the spice. This Indian butter chicken dish is great when it’s colder because it warms you up just like the potato soup. Like the others, this dish also makes enough for everyone and will bring a different flavor to a traditional Friendsgiving. 

Making it yourself allows you to control the spice level. It’s not quite as simple as the baked dishes and requires marinating the chicken the night before, but the result is well worth it, and Thanksgiving is made for all-day cooking.

If some of these seem a little more labor intensive for a beginner, don’t worry. There are countless cookbooks specifically geared towards simplicity, great for the full-time college student. Sweater weather is the perfect time to crack one open and take advantage of the extra indoor time.

If you’re looking for recipes with fewer ingredients, this Food52 cookbook is for you. If your goal is to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, this America’s Test Kitchen cookbook is all about speedy recipes. Lastly, if you just want some classic staple recipes, this cookbook by Tanorria Askew has some great dishes, including potatoes au gratin and potato soup.