After a long week of quarantine food pick-ups and braving Hamilton’s winter chill, you may be looking to expand your meal choices. Here are some dorm-friendly meal ideas to help you gain the food-independence you need to get through the semester.
Microwaves aren’t named microwave ovens for no reason; if you’re not picky about textures, you can cook just about anything with a microwave. If you’re short on microwavable dishes, paper bowls and plates work just fine. Kettles can help speed up the cooking process for some recipes. Mini-fridges expand your available ingredient list, helping create more nutrient-complete meals. If you don’t have a car to make it out to Price Chopper, order from Instacart with a friend and split the shipping costs.
The Tried and Trues
This wouldn’t be a proper college meal hack list without these instant cup meals: mac and cheese, soups, and of course, ramen. While these shelf-stable favorites may not be the most healthy, they only truly require a kettle.
When you’re ready to take your cooking a step further, packets of ramen can easily be deconstructed to make more flavorful meals. After cooking noodles without their flavor packet, drain the water. Stir in a sauce of your choice—I recommend pesto—and you’ve got yourself instant pasta. You can alternatively create homemade mac and cheese with a bit of milk, generous amounts of cheese, and microwave with the noodles until a sauce forms. If you’re hungry for soup, switch out the standard flavor packet broth for bouillon. If you still want ramen but are looking for a more complete meal, add in microwaved eggs and veggies.
Under 5-Minute Protein
Meat can be expensive and time-consuming to cook from scratch. Meatballs will still rack up your bill, but they’ll add protein to your meal after only a minute in the microwave. If you’re looking for something more versatile, try scrambled eggs. Whisk together eggs, salt, and cheese before microwaving them for a few minutes. Don’t forget to let your protein stand for a few minutes after microwaving to let carry-over cooking finish the job!
If you’re worried about your produce going bad, frozen vegetables are your friend. With the help of a microwave and a little bit of water, you’ve got yourself a healthy side in no time. You can cook your veggies in marinara sauce to add some flavor to your greens. You can also make a sauce for yourself by combining soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little bit of peanut butter.
Oatmeal is a healthy, customizable, and filling way to start off your day. If overnight oats require a little too much planning for you, original instant oatmeal works great as well. Add in peanut butter, honey, berries, apples or bananas from Frank, or whatever your heart desires. A quick Google search will yield a plethora of delicious mix-in combinations. You can also use some of these ingredients and your mini-fridge to make no-bake energy bars. Want something with fewer ingredients? Just eat multiple packets of your favorite instant oatmeal flavor.
Your freezer is your friend if you’re looking to prevent a Rye Berry loaf or Flour & Salt bagels from molding. Pop your bread of choice in the microwave for 30 seconds, and you’ve got yourself a delicious foundation for sandwiches. Microwave frozen patties to make burgers or fill with sliced lunchmeat and condiments of your choice for old-school sandwiches. If you have some tinfoil, cheese, and a flat iron on hand, you can also attempt a grilled cheese sandwich.
If you’re looking for another cheesy fix, grab a tortilla and the cheese of your choice. Microwave a folded-over tortilla until the cheese inside is melted, and you’ve got yourself a quesadilla. Missing Taco Tuesday? Microwave together cheese and cut-up meatballs or burger patties, pour them inside a snack-sized bag of chips, and top with veggies and sauces of your choice for a Taco in a Bag.
If you’ve heard of microwave cooking, you’ve heard of mug cakes. Google your favorite cookie or cake to find the perfect mug cake recipe for you. Don’t want to make something from scratch? Freeze cinnamon rolls and muffins from town or Chobani, and pop them in the microwave when you want a sweet treat. Don’t hesitate to use your microwave if you find yourself with some unfrozen baked goods; hot cookies taste much better than room temperature ones.