So you’re stuck on the mandatory meal plan and without a full kitchen for another year, and while some dining hall options will always be your fave, having a semi-home cooked meal every once in awhile can make you feel a little bit better. Here are 5 of my favorite meal options you don’t need a kitchen for:
Ultimately my favorite breakfast or afternoon snack, smoothies make for an easy, healthy option. All you need is a blender or NutriBullet and three major ingredients:
1. Frozen Fruit
Buy a bargain sized bag of your favorite fruit blend, and you and your roommates can share for weeks. My personal favorite blend is mango, pineapple, and strawberries.
I personally love using honey or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. Kefir is another healthy substitute if you aren’t huge fan of yogurt.
While I enjoy using almond milk or an organic juice blend, you can use any juice or milk you want. Lemonade or orange juice from the dining hall is a great option if you want to go easy on your wallet.
I also really enjoy adding a little peanut butter, protein powder, or chia seeds into my smoothies for a little extra health kick. Look up other recipes for inspiration and you’re guaranteed to make a delicious smoothie.
My roommates and I personally love making pancakes on game day mornings or after a long night out for a nice homey meal. Most store-bought mixes just require you to add water so pancakes are by far your easiest option. Make sure you have an electric griddle or skillet to plug in and get cooking. You can get creative with you pancakes by using M&Ms, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc. As long as you have your griddle out, you can certainly add to the menu with things like fried or scrambled eggs, bacon, french toast, breakfast potatoes, a list goes on and on!
3. Mac n’ Cheese
A discovery I made this year was that you do not, in fact, need a stove top or hot plate to make delicious mac n’ cheese. All it takes is a microwave and a fridge! You’ll need butter and milk (easy buys from your nearest dining hall) and boxed mac n’ cheese and water. Empty the noodles into a microwavable bowl and add about a 1.75 cups of water. Then simply microwave in 3-minute intervals until you think the noodles are decently cooked (I usually wind up cooking for a total of 9 minutes) and drain any leftover water. Then add the cheese packet, milk, and butter per your box’s instructions and mix! I also like to add pepper, shredded cheese, and bread crumbs to my finished mac n’ cheese before tossing it back in the microwave for another minute or two to give it a little extra flavor. This option is delicious and easily customizable.
Another easy and yummy option, I love customizing my nachos when I’m feeling a little lazy and don’t actually want to cook too much. Simply get your favorite tortilla chips and a toaster oven and you’re good to go! I like to add cheese, shredded chicken, avocado, frozen corn, cilantro, and sour cream to mine. Simply add whatever ingredients you want to the top of your tortilla chips and toss in your toaster oven at 400° for about 10 to 15 minutes. The more substantial food you add to your nachos, the more you can count it as a meal as opposed to a snack! Easy, delicious, and fun, I personally suggest making nachos as often as you can.
Another option I just discovered I didn’t need a stove top or hot plate for is quinoa. Simply add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa and microwave for 8 total minutes, taking out every few minutes to stir. If there is any left over water simply drain. Once you’ve cooked your quinoa you can add whatever you want to make it yours. Make a salad by adding cheese, dressing, chicken, carrots, etc. This is an easy and healthy addition to your everyday meals.
Search the web for other easy dorm recipes and you’re guaranteed to find something you love. Some of my personal favorites include grilled chicken avocado ranch wraps and cowboy pasta salad. Pinterest and Buzzfeed are great resources for those kinds of recipes. Search for alternative ways to cook your favorite meals as well. Fun fact: you can bake brownies and casseroles in a toaster oven, it just takes a bit more time. To all my fellow suite-livers, get cooking!