Most college students eventually reach a point where they could use a little home-cooked love for dinner. While some dorms do have kitchens, there’ s a lot you can do right in your room to satisfy a hunger craving.
Before cooking, check to see what equipment your school allows you to have — anything with a burner, even a coffee machine, may be outlawed. If a coffee maker is allowed, the culinary possibilities are nearly endless. The basket can be used for steaming veggies, the carafe for boiling or poaching, and the burner itself to grill. Just make sure that you clean it very carefully after — you won’t soon forget the taste of salmon-coffee!
If you are limited to a microwave, don’t worry! Follow these suggestions for above-and-beyond dorm-room noms.
1. Upgrade your ramen.
This is the classic college food, but with a unique twist to suit your personality. You can cook the instant noodles as normal and add your favorite sauce or a spoonful of peanut butter, for a pad thai-like concoction. If you want something more substantial, before microwaving try stirring in an egg or a handful of veggies, like cabbage, corn, or whatever comes in the frozen bag of stir fry vegetables.
2. Zap your eggs.
Coat a mug or bowl with a little oil, and beat two eggs with two tablespoons of milk. Add some cheese, veggies, or chunks of deli meat and microwave for 45 seconds. Stir for another 30 seconds. If they are not set to your liking, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.
3. Fill a tortilla.
You can put anything in a tortilla. Last night’s leftovers? Various taco-esque ingredients? Hummus and turkey? It’s all good. You can even fill it with cheese, put it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to melt, and smother it with salsa for a quick quesadilla.
4. “Bake” a potato.
Rinse off any excess dirt, prick with a fork all over, and wrap in a damp paper towel before giving it 5 minutes in the microwave. Then, turn it over, and give it another 3-5 minutes, so that when you poke a fork in there, it easily reaches the middle. Then, cover it with everything that you love, like gravy, chili, sour cream, or your favorite canned soup.
5. Eat dessert, too.
I have a soft spot in my heart for dessert, and truffles were my personal favorite in college, because they were both super easy and super classy (Classy? College? Get it?).
Melt a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (the good ones, if you can afford it) and 1/3 cup of cream in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so until the lumps disappear. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and refrigerate until solid. Scoop into balls and roll in cocoa powder, lining on a sheet or plate, then refrigerate again. Share with impressed friends or eat while studying.
In general, if you cook regularly in your dorm, you should invest in a nice sharp knife and your basic eating utensils — fork, spoon, bowl, plate, mug (and if you can, a spare set of each to share with a guest). A few spices or sauces on hand can go a long way towards jazzing up boring food, so you may consider keeping a few favorites on hand. Happy cooking!