College Pantry Essentials: Preparing for your rodeo

You know how people say, “This ain’t my first rodeo?” I always thought that expression was sort of lame, but as I help my son pack for college, I can’t stop seeing the similarities.

It’s dusty.

There’s lots of pageantry.

It’s a lot more expensive than you think.

It’s messy and wonderful all at the same time.

There’s a young bull just busting out of the pen. There’s blood and sweat and tears (mostly from me).

There are always, always clowns of some sort.

But raising a kid? My time raising this child seems suddenly down to 8 seconds—or even less.

And, even though it’s happening for the third—and last time—it’s not any easier. Letting go and transitioning out of the mother bird nurturer role—even tougher. How do I step away here and let my boy be a man? In about a week, he’s moving into the dorms and out of my kitchen. I’ve tried to teach him the essentials, you know, how to boil an egg, how to cook bacon, etc. Not just breakfast stuff, but that’s all that comes to mind. I can’t just pack his lunch anymore.


For the last few weeks, I’ve been compiling a pantry kit for him to take to the dorm. It’s definitely gotten a bit out of hand, and I still have a few days, so who knows how crazy this can get. Nate will have a microwave, stove and fridge in his apartment, so that helps.

When I put all the stuff I’d purchased into a laundry basket, and it’s pretty full. There’s a good chance he won’t even be able to lift it. But you know what? It makes me feel a little better about letting go.


College Pantry Kit Checklist

Dried Foods Canned Foods Condiments Drinks

ˆ Ramen ˆ ravioli ˆ mustard packs ˆ tea bags

ˆ Peanut butter ˆ soups ˆ ketchup packs ˆ hot chocolate mix

ˆ jelly ˆ spaghetti sauce ˆ mayo packs ˆ bottled water

ˆ Easy Mac ˆ beans ˆ marshmallows ˆ coffee

ˆ chips ˆ pepperoni ˆ chili ˆ sriracha sauce

ˆ crackers ˆ individual Ranch dressings

ˆ instant oatmeal Miscellaneous

ˆ individual cereals ˆ can opener ˆ plastic silverware

ˆ Pop Tarts ˆ matches ˆ laundry pods

ˆ crackers (saltines and cracker packs)

ˆ spaghetti noodles

ˆ instant noodle mix (chicken, butter, beef, etc.)

ˆ Rice-a-Roni

ˆ popcorn ˆ tuna/chicken packed in water

ˆ applesauce

ˆ Nutella ˆ breakfast shakes

Tina Bausinger lives and works in Tyler, Texas. She teaches high school English, and has been published in multiple venues, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Five, In Magazine, the Tyler Paper, and the Northwest Arkansas Times. Tina holds a MA in English from the University of Texas at Tyler, and is working on her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at Texas A&M Commerce. Her novel, War Eagle Women, was mentioned in USA Today, and her book Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas of Teens, spent several days on Amazon’s Hot New Releases. She blogs about teaching, cooking and being (everyone’s) mama on