Dorm Cooking: Adventures and Misadventures in your kitchen

Who would’ve thought cooking could be such a stressful part of the college experience? Add to the formula the element of a dorm room kitchen and you will certainly find yourself in a bit of an odyssey. For most of the students, college is the part in their lives where they are forced to become completely responsible for every aspect of their being. Most of the stress comes by the lack of organizing habits one may have; but this can change in an eye opening.  Fortunately there are some ways to make the stress go away and enjoy this thrilling part of the ultimate college experience.

Now, what are some of the most frequented complaints about dorm cooking? It may be, “I don’t have the time”, “I have to study” or “I’m too hungry to cook”. Even, “I’m too tired; I think I’ll just eat at the school cafeteria”. Well I have something to say, it doesn’t have to be that way! Apart from the obvious fact that eating out will probably be more expensive and less healthy, an important thing to keep in mind is that cooking can be fun, even if you’re not a professional chef or if you just do it to survive. There are several ways to get in touch with your inner chef and still be able to study hard.

One of the main problems college students have to deal while having a dorm kitchen (if they’re lucky enough to have one) is the small space. 

To resolve the lack of space it is very important to buy essential ingredients or cooking materials, which can be combined in infinite variety of dishes. Many people have different ideas of what essential cooking items may be, but it’s pretty simple once you put some thought into it. Some of these items can serve as a base for many dishes, for example:

*These ingredients can be changed in case of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Also keep in mind that essential materials go further into cooking appliances, like: utensils, knives, cooking spoons, spatulas, plates, pans, pots and bowls. Having just what is needed will help enormously with the lack of space one may have in a dorm kitchen, but there is still the part that involves cooking.

To handle most of the stress caused by the fact that one has to cook (and clean too) after or in between classes, is important to have some knowledge on how to handle it. Like I mentioned before, most of the stress comes from the lack of organizing habits you may have. Of course that with the previously said examples of cooking ingredients and materials the stress will probably diminish, but let’s see what the key to this formula is. Most people use a technique known as menu planning, ever heard of this myth? Well, it consists on planning your menus ahead of time. Take a pen and a notepad, carry it with you at all time; write down every thought or idea about a possible menu. You’ll see how fast the different dishes start to accumulate and the thinking-about-it part of cooking will be covered. By planning your menus in advance you’ll also buy what you need exactly, and think of dishes that use the same combination of ingredients. With this last one, you can also incorporate the previously learned space managing techniques.

While college may be charged with some very stressful situations, cooking or fixing a meal in your dorm room (or apartment) doesn’t have to be one of them. Don’t become a part of the complainers of cooking while in college. Either you have a kitchen in your dorm room, or if you share one, at the end of the day it’s the one you’ll have to use for the next 4-6 years of your life. So just remember these tips that can help improve not only your nutrition but the stress handling, and will still allow you to keep focused in the books.