How to Adult without Really Trying (Cooking in the Dorm Room)

Most of the freshman dorms (Quad, English, Hill, etc.) do not allow access to kitchens for students and as a result many students can find it hard to access healthy, easy to make and good tasting food. Even with a dining plan, there are going to be times where you just want a good tasting snack, or your club’s meeting went past 8 pm and the dining halls are no longer open. Cooking at home is so much cheaper, and preparing your own food doesn’t have to be complicated!

Many times people think they can’t cook without a kitchen, but don’t realize that they have one of the most underrated cooking machines right in their very own bedroom - the microwave. I didn’t realize how awesome my microwave was for meal preparation until I moved back into the Quad to be an RA my senior year. Without a kitchen, I was worried I was lost with how to cook for myself again so I got creative.

One of my favorite breakfasts to make is an egg white ‘omelette.’ I buy egg whites, salsa and spinach to keep in my fridge. In the morning, I just add egg whites, chopped spinach and a spoonful of salsa to a coffee mug, mix it up and less than a minute later I have some awesome and simple tasting eggs to put on a muffin to go! Or if you need something more substantial for lunch or dinner, a sweet potato can be ready in 5 minutes and topped with your favorites (cheese, salsa, lime juice, etc). When in the mood for something sweet, I make a single serve brownie (3 tbsp cocoa powder, ¼ unsweetened applesauce, pinch of baking powder and salt, 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp maple syrup, mix, microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds) and it’s gluten free and vegan!

There is a lot of potential within that microwave for some awesome tasting food from the comfort of your room if you’re creative and willing to look for a few recipes online! Learning to use my microwave has saved me so much time and allowed me to feel like I can cook for myself again.

-Jordi R.

Collegiate Cuisine: How I Learned to (Kind of) Cook for Myself

This year was my first year not being on a meal plan, and making the adjustment to making all of my own meals definitely a struggle. Having to make time to cook easy yet edible and also somewhat healthy lunches and dinners is definitely not something that happens overnight. However, I've picked up on a few helpful tips for all those making a similar transition. These are some things I've learned to do to make cooking for myself less of a hassle.

1. Frozen vegetables are your friend

Buying vegetables frozen is a great way to get the nutrients of vegetables without having to worry about cooking them before they go bad! While I like to buy fresh vegetables if I happen to be grocery shopping at the right time, I've found it super helpful to have a few types of frozen vegetables on hand so that meal prep isn't as much of a hassle. 

2. Make ahead lunches

Often times I'll make a big batch of something in my slow cooker (a wonderful device, by the way) on Sunday and eat it for lunch all week. That way, I don't have to worry as much about making lunch every morning. Plus, it helps me use up vegetables or meats I have on hand that will go bad soon. 

3. Go meatless!

I had never been one to try to cut down on meat, but starting to cook with raw meat definitely freaked me out at first, leading me to try more meatless sources of protein like tofu, lentils, chickpeas, and beans. They're super easy to prepare and can be made in so many different styles that I never get bored of them. Now, even though I've conquered my fear of working with raw meat, I tend to make my lunches and about half my dinners meatless!

Hopefully these tips will make off-campus living easier for anyone who, like me, had to make the transition from meal plan to meals. While it can be stressful at times, learning to meal prep can be fun and make life a bit easier, too.

-Caitlyn Rand