Let’s be real, everyone. It is April, and if you are anything like me, you’re done with eating dining hall food 3 times a day and crave something better. So here’s the part where I, a self-proclaimed dorm foodie, step in. Like Frankie from Struggle Meals, I am always on a college student budget, so these meals are not too expensive to create in alternative to your dining hall plan.
1. Sweet & Sour Chicken and Noodles
My first recipe comes to you straight from the wonderful world of culinary TikTok. It’s an easy way to spice up the food from your dining hall, and ramen is always super cheap and good to have on hand.
Here are your ingredients:
- Polynesian/Sweet & Sour Sauce (I used Chick-fil-A Polynesian Sauce, however, you could likely get the same outcome with McDonald’s Sweet & Sour)
- Fried/Grilled Chicken (I usually use a fried chicken patty from my dining hall and cut it into nugget-sized pieces, but you could also use chicken nuggets)
- Ramen Noodles
- Soy Sauce (grab some packets from your dining hall, the Struggle Meals way)
Cook your ramen as usual, but without using the seasoning packet at the end
In a skillet, pour some of your polynesian/sweet & sour sauce to the middle and let warm for a couple of seconds, making sure you don’t let the sauce burn
Add your chicken pieces/chicken nuggets to the pan with your sauce, and make sure to toss them generously
Add soy sauce to your ramen noodles, and then pour the chicken and its sauce over the top.
And now you have dorm room-ified Sweet & Sour Chicken and Noodles!
2. Cacio E Pepe
While this Italian dish sounds super fancy, it’s English translation is cheese and pepper, which are the two main ingredients in this easy pasta dish. I took this article from Bon Appetit, which describes it better than I can, so I’ll leave the instructions to them! If you’re not looking to break the bank on cheese, I recommend just using pecorino cheese for the sauce, as cheese can easily get super expensive. A box of Barilla spaghetti costs around $1.85, and a box of butter costs around $2, so even if you went for the most expensive cheese, you could easily have a decent meal for less than $10! Frankie, I hope I made you proud.
3. Microwave Queso Blanco
Ah, queso. You are so bad for my lactose intolerance yet taste so good. If you are looking for an easy way to make a tasty dip that you can eat as a late-night snack or bring with you to a gathering, look no further. With only 5 main ingredients, and by using the microwave instead of trying to cook it over the stove top without burning, this recipe screams guilty pleasure. Seeded at the Table offers a great recipe for this classic appetizer, and while it’s definitely not the exact same as doing the whole thing from scratch Food Network-style, it’s definitely a good substitute.
4. Banana Porridge with Blueberry Compote
This recipe from Domestic Gothess is probably one of the more difficult ones on this list, but the ingredient list is small and full of ingredients you can find at your dining hall or on-campus store, making it a no-brainer when you want a slightly healthier breakfast option. I have yet to try it, so I cannot offer any words of wisdom on dorm-friendly hacks, but you may be able to heat up the blueberries in the microwave instead of on the stove, creating more of a warm melty blueberry situation and less of a compote, but a great substitution if you don’t have any pots or pans!
Hopefully, you found at least one recipe on this list that appeals to you! I mentioned Struggle Meals a lot in this article, which is another great resource for cheap, tasty meals. This year, I bought way too many kitchen tools at Target and started to really take my diet into my own hands instead of eating dining hall grilled cheeses and fries every day for lunch and dinner. If you’re not super into cooking, or simply here looking for an easy snack or micro-fridge staple, frozen fruits and veggies are great for healthier options to avoid the carbo-loading of ramen 24/7 that many college students, myself included, fall prey to. Best of luck to you in all of your future culinary endeavors!
*Edited by Carolyn D’Auria.