Lately I’ve been thinking about how many of our students are struggling — harder in some ways than I did when I was a starving student. I know what it’s like to be hungry and to have to make the choice for every dollar between paying for my education, paying for a place to sleep or paying for something to eat. There are two big differences I see: students are paying more now for their educations, and they apparently don’t know the skills of cooking for themselves.

One thing I want to do is encourage students to cook for themselves. It’s seriously easy. Buy a crock-pot. They cost about twenty bucks. Fill it about 2/3 full of diced potatoes, chopped onions, sliced carrot, some frozen peas and corn. Put in a little salt, pepper and garlic. Add water or broth up to about 3/4 full. Plug it in. Go to class. Come home to hot soup for supper. You’ll have enough leftovers for at least one and probably two more suppers. It doesn’t even require a kitchen, just a plug-in.

Learn to cook dried beans: Soak them overnight. Drain them and put them in the crock pot the next day in the following ratio: One cup of soaked beans to two cups of water or broth. Add some diced onion, salt, pepper, and a little garlic. They won’t get mushy in the crock pot, but they will be done. And let’s be honest about the issue of farting — if beans make you fart you’re not eating enough beans. They’re cheap protein and they fill you up. Your system will get used to them. Until then, see if you can play “O Canada” all the way through, including the high notes. Reward yourself with a cookie.

And learn to bake bread! Simple bread is…well…simple. Look in the Bake-up section for a simple recipe I call “600 Bread.” Soup and bread: cheap, wholesome food. Never boring — George Carlin said, “Soup is wet food.” That puts it into perspective!