Chili isn’t man’s most perfect food. That would be the hamburger. Chili doesn’t win a superlative in any other college category either: it isn’t the cheapest, easiest, healthiest, and it certainly isn’t the most elegant. But it does fill a few other important roles, that, put together, make Chili the perfect college food. It doesn’t win any one category, but it places high in many others. It’s the five-tool food. And one of those is…

1. Versatility

Any other food you make is specific. Yeah, you can get fancy with it- breakfast for dinner!- but you know you’re just fooling yourself. A pancake is a pancake. If you don’t want it, tough luck.

But Chili is spooky versatile. If you want a hearty meal after a long day of work and sports, a heaping bowl of chili with some cheese and bread will satisfy you. But if you’re feeling sick or full, but you need a meal? Well, some chili would do the job. It’s just some soup, after all. It’s a snack or a meal, lunch or dinner depending on the size. Something to spend time on or something to eat from the fridge. After all, it’s…

2. It’s Perfect For Your Fridge

Any meal you want in college is going to have to survive well as leftovers. Pasta and macaroni can be begrudgingly had the next day for lunch, but do you really want it? If you make chicken or fish, sure, that’ll pass for a day. But Chili gets better as time goes on. It marinates in itself and the spices- the peppers and onions and more- only get stronger and spread more evenly through the chili. That means unlike most food, the leftovers are actually even better than the rest of the meal. For a college student preparing to eat half his meals as leftovers, it’s a pretty perfect call.

 

3. It’s Balanced

Lean ground beef, beans, tomatoes, peppers and onions, some melted cheese and brown rice. Those are all decently healthy and all of the major food groups, all congregating in your meal. Fruits (tomatoes) and veggies, protein and whole grains, and even some dairy pop up in there. It’s a healthy tasty meal that also is fairly cheap: none of these ingredients are particularly pricey. It’s also pretty easy to make, even if it’s tough to master: cut, mix, brown the meat, and let it cook. No matter what your priority in meals is (ease, health, taste, or price) chili has your back.

4. Options

How do you want it? It’s a question Tupac once asked, and it’s a question Chili asks you as well.

Do you want a light thin warm soup or a meaty thick meal, more slop than water? Do you want it spicy enough to burn tongues, or do you want to temper it with some brown sugar or cheddar. Do you want beef or pork or even tofu? There’s more options than you think, and whatever your choice is, it can be a chili.

5. Pride

There are a few things any man should do. One of those things means not abiding by any random gendered assumptions of things they should and shouldn’t do. But one of those other things is making a mean chili.

See, you can make a good chicken. You can cook a good stir fry. Heck, you can even be a champion griller. But something about chili brings out the competitive fire in other men. So cook well and cook often. Eat chili and win against theirs; that’s a win-win if I ever heard one.