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College Cooking 101

If you've just left the comforting confines of your parents' house for college life, or life beyond college, you may be wondering what on earth you are going to eat. Don't panic, I've put together a bunch of tips that will ease you into the wonderful world of dorm style cooking. As most dormitories ban ovens of any sort, the George Foreman Grill and the microwave will be your most coveted companions followed closely by the mini fridge. Depending on the dorm's regulations you may also acquire a blender, rice cooker, or hot plate. To see my helpful hints on creating edible meals with these gadgets,

  • Get creative! When opened fully, many of the George Foreman grills can work as a griddle for frying eggs and other tasty proteins.
  • Learn how to correctly use the microwave and stick to it. Use microwave-safe dishes and don't overcook ingredients. Hot dogs and eggs can turn into a messy mistake if left in the microwave for too long.
  • When dealing with pre-made meals, follow the microwave directions found on the box.
  • Don't overcrowd your dorm room with pointless gadgets and little used ingredients. Keep things simple with salt and pepper shakers, bottle opener, can opener, knives, utensils and a set of plates, bowls, and glasses.
  • Don't like food from a can? Check out your local supermarket aisles. Safeway makes an excellent selection of Signature soups that stay up to three weeks in the fridge.
  • Be respectful of your roommates. NEVER make anything with an extreme smell like fish or broccoli.
  • Maintain a high level of cleanliness. Wash utensils and serveware after using and take out the garbage often. You don't want to attract bugs, rodents, or animals.
  • Know where the fire extinguisher is located in case of an emergency.
  • Keep dishes simple, the fewer ingredients you use, the easier they will be to put together. Check out Chow's collection of dorm room recipes for more ideas and inspirations.

Did you cook in your college dorm room? Share your secrets, successes, and blunders with us below!

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magpie22 magpie22 9 years
Usually when I'm at school I have a meal plan, but mac and cheese, hot chocolate, tomato soup (w/ toast and kraft singles), and popcorn got me through some all nighters in nasty weather when I didn't want to go outside. However, this year I'm doing my junior year abroad in Ireland, where the euro murders my wallet, most food ingredients are imported, and "cuisine" is a boiled potato and overcooked steak. So, I have begun to start cooking for myself, which is new and different. If you at least have a stove-top I recommend stir fry, pasta, or chicken cutlet parmesan (breadcrumbed chicken in a frying pan, cover w/ cheese and tomato sauce mmmm.) And, when cooking is too much and I'm just plain hungry...there's always NUTELLA!!!
courtney422 courtney422 9 years
I really do hate having to find something to cook... I'm so picky too. This will come in handy!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 10 years
I never lived in a Dorm room, but let me tell you that roomates who insist on eating smelly foods are the worst. The 3 main smelly offenders? 1) Brussel Sprouts. I love them, but it smells like a locker room for weeks afterwords 2) Taco Meat..again Locker room and a smidgen of homeless 3) Salmon, the fishiest fish smell ever. Its like your roomate has the little mermaids body under his bed
CestLaVie CestLaVie 10 years
Wow- thanks for the page on micro-zapping eggs! I thought it couldn't be done!!! I attempted it once and ended up with egg splatters all over and the page explains why- not poking the membrane.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 10 years
oh man, broccoli is the WORST. i had a roommate who would make broccoli stuff and then throw out the unused cooked broccoli. our kitchen and trashcan smelled like rotten something for DAYS.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
good ideas! my brother used his george forman grill everyday while in college!
demeter demeter 10 years
I love George Forman grills! They are a lifesaver!
Megatron Megatron 10 years
Heineken67-that's my exact situation right now and I hate it! Plus, you can't do take out anymore with the new people that are managing it.
c0rkie c0rkie 10 years
college cooking was ALWAYS fun and experimental :D
heineken67 heineken67 10 years
My scholarship required me to stay in a dorm, and that meant a mandatory meal plan. The only thing available was all-you-can-eat style at the cafeteria, which is not the way I like to eat. My roommate and I became pros at smuggling food out of the cafeteria to eat later. You can make all sorts of great things with cafeteria ingredients.
Food Food 10 years
skiwi - you can cook eggs in the microwave, just not in their shell. here's some additional info on microwaving eggs hope it helps! and broccoli, especially when re-heated has a very strong odor.
skiwi skiwi 10 years
okay i have two questions: First, can you cook eggs in the microwave?! how?? I've never heard of that before :S And second question: brocolli has a strong smell? I don't know if it's just me but I never noticed it lol.
piraterie piraterie 10 years
My dorm was so strict! We were allowed a mini fridge and hot pots, but that was it. There was a kitchen, although I never used it much (it was always kind of dirty). I usually ate in the cafeteria when I lived in the dorms or I had cereal or soup mix.
lexichloe lexichloe 10 years
Great advice! When I was in college, we used to order out, ALOT! But when we did cook, we had a floor kitchen w/ a microwave, etc, so our room never got stinky...Oh the glory days!!
i-am-elle i-am-elle 10 years
My roommate and I stocked up on TV dinners, sandwich stuff & canned food that could be microwaved. Our dorm didn't have a kitchen, so we mainly ate at the dining hall. But we def kept our favorite snacks in our rooms for late nights & sleepovers. :)
syako syako 10 years
When I lived in the dorm I mainly ate at the school cafeteria. But I always had some cereal and milk on hand just in case. :) Our dorm had a small kitchen, and if I had been more adventurous I would have actually used it more than once. If your dorm has a kitchen try to use it and maybe team up with some roommates/neighbors and have nights where each of you cook for the group. It could be fun!
cking78 cking78 10 years
I would have died of hunger without my sandwich maker!!!
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