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Leftovers are becoming my saving grace

I feel like I skipped from being a freshman in college to being a full-fledged adult with, yuck, responsibilities.

I didn’t, of course — I did have a sophomore year, and I even lived on campus for it … though it was incredibly different from what I had expected. 

I do feel somewhat lucky, because out of all of the years to sort-of miss out on, sophomore year is kind of the perfect one. Nothing big is happening, you’ve already kind of established yourself on campus and you still have to have a dorm and meal plan. 

Junior year, by contrast, is already hitting me like a truck. Suddenly, I’m expected to pay bills, cook my own meals, keep the fridge stocked, clean house and worry about actual keys — all while still balancing classes and extracurriculars (and boy, do I have a lot of those).

Money is probably my (and everyone’s) biggest problem. I have thought more about budgeting in the last two weeks than I have since I first arrived at Miami, and I definitely know that sounds entitled, but it’s still crazy to me.

Food seemingly didn't take up such a massive chunk of my debit transactions last year, probably because of that handy meal plan. If I was hungry, I could walk to Garden Commons for some stir-fry or hit up Maple Street’s taco bar. Maybe I’d check NetNutrition, my favorite Miami dining tool, every once in a while if I felt like having a bit more control over what I wanted to eat.

Now, however, it’s a bit more complicated. Sure, I have frozen veggies in the fridge, but do I really want to eat the exact same vegetable hash-slash-stir-fry that I’ve eaten three times this week already? No, I want to buy something different — something my wallet can’t always handle.

I try to not let myself run wild with ordering out, but this search for “something different” food-wise is getting difficult. I’ve run out of freezer meals on only week three — and I even eat lunch, and sometimes also dinner, on campus most days just because that’s where my schedule takes me.

Quite simply, even though I used to absolutely love cooking, I’m becoming bored with it. Or, more precisely, I suppose I’m becoming more bored with having half of a shelf in the fridge for my food instead of having five dining halls’ worth of choices at my fingertips.

Leftovers are becoming my saving grace. 

Whenever I inevitably DoorDash something new and exciting to my door, I find a way to make that one order last two, or maybe three, meals. That’s helping with the boredom, and the rest of the time, I just remind myself that I’m being far healthier than I was in the dining halls. All

of those tater tots, pizza and rice dishes at my fingertips … well, that’s certainly something I’m glad to have left behind.

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(I’ll still visit every once in a while, though, if only for that baked potato soup. You know the one — and if you don’t know, learn. It slaps.)

Then there’s the whole “cleaning” part of living alone. It’s no different from cleaning up after yourself in a residence hall common room, but I spend so much more time in my living room and kitchen now than I ever did in the Withrow second-floor commons last year. That naturally means I make a bit more of a mess, which takes longer to clean up.

Also, since I’m not eating at dining halls, dishes have become a problem. Dishes are absolutely my least favorite chore — arduously scraping off food that’s become stuck to a plate does not sound like my idea of a good Friday night. 

Unfortunately, even though I have a dishwasher, sometimes I am forced to hand-wash because the dishwasher is already running or the pot is too big… again, so not my thing, but then again, is it really anyone’s?

With all that being said, and the ever-present threats of losing my key or forgetting to pay the bills still looming over my head, there are some great parts to living alone. 

I’m now sharing my bathroom with only one person, rather than a whole floor of them. I have my very own room for the first time in two years. I have an actual kitchen in which I can bake and a real living room with a big TV so I don’t have to keep watching Netflix on my tiny computer screen. 

I have a basement for the very first time — growing up in Florida kind of made that difficult in my childhood — and I have three awesome roommates I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I’m learning to rely on myself more, and I’m learning to look at the good. Sure, there’s a lot I could complain about with “adulting” — taxes, namely — but there is so much more that I’ve always dreamed of, things that I finally get to do or have. 

Next time I have to wash the dishes or make myself vegetables instead of ordering pizza, I’ll try to remember all that. 

No promises I won’t just give in and get Rapid Fired, though — because let’s be real, we all have to treat ourselves sometimes. Just … responsibly.