College food refers to food that is cooked while on the college campus in an ingenious way or food that is really cheap. Ramen noodles have become a college food staple. Most college students think that they are limited to Ramen noodles and mac and cheese, because they are on a limited budget or because they only have a microwave to cook with. I’m here to tell you how you can prepare delicious college food while living in a dorm and only have a microwave to cook with or while living in a place that has a full kitchen, all while staying within a budget.
Microwave Access Only
You may think there are only a few foods that can be cooked in a microwave, but you’d be wrong. College food doesn’t have to be boring. College food can be as creative as you want it to be. You just have to think about how you can adjust recipes so that all the cooking is done in the microwave. Did you ever consider having a chicken, bacon, and ranch salad while only having access to a microwave? Well it can be done and here’s how:
Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Salad Microwave Style
1 chicken breast (if your small dorm fridge has a freezer, buy a small bag of frozen breasts)
2 strips of fully cooked bacon (only takes a minute or so to crisp up)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Place chicken in the microwave and cook on high for 10-20 minutes, depending on your microwave voltage you may need to cook it more or less. Once cooked, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Place bacon in the microwave and cook according to package directions, then crumble.
Place lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, cheese, and cut up chicken in the bowl. Top with crumbled bacon slices.
Top with ranch dressing and enjoy.
Not in the mood for a salad? What about a sandwich? Take chopped up chicken, mix with almonds, chopped celery and red onion, and some mayonnaise. Place on honey wheat bread with some lettuce and tomato and grab a bag of chips and enjoy. Yes, this is a chicken salad sandwich, but it will be a totally different taste. This leads me to a very, very important college food tip. If you buy a package of chicken breasts (and don’t have a freezer), go ahead and cook them all at once, then chop them up and use them as you need them in different recipes. For example, use them in the recipes I’ve just given you and the next night add some chicken to that boring old college food, such as mac and cheese, with maybe a little broccoli thrown in. You can make some pretty delicious college food, you just need to be creative and find ingredients you can use in more than one meal. A cheap college food trick is to buy the ingredients that you will only use in the salad, like the mushrooms, at your local grocery stores salad bar. They are going to be really light and they charge by the weight. If you buy mushrooms in the produce section you will pay $1.49 for 6 ounces of sliced mushrooms, which may go bad before you have a chance to eat them. If you get them from the salad bar, you’ll pay just a few cents.
It’s important to note that there are more convenient college foods than just Ramen noodles and mac and cheese. There are several great TV dinners that can be bought for a $1 or less. You can also buy a box of sausage biscuits in your freezer section which makes for a very quick breakfast. The important thing to remember when buying items like this is, it may seem high to pay $5 for a box of sausage biscuits, but if you break that down, it’s only $0.41 a piece. That’s a lot cheaper than what you’ll pay at the campus cafÃ?Â©. Other great choices for convenient college foods are frozen pancakes, Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls, White Castles, and soups, to just name a few.
If you’re lucky enough to live on a campus that allows you to use other cooking appliances I suggest you purchase a slow cooker, toaster, and George Forman Indoor Grill. These appliances will allow you to cook just about anything, from homemade stew in the slow cooker to Pop Tarts in the toaster to burgers on the George Forman Grill. College food will take on a whole new meaning with these cheap products. If you’re stuck with your microwave, I suggest you buy a crisper plate. A crisper plate will make college food much more enjoyable by allowing you to have crisp chicken nuggets, Pizza Rolls, and that, all important, leftover pizza from last nights get together.
A Full Kitchen
With a full kitchen you have the means to cook, you just don’t always have the means to buy expensive food. This leads you to stick with the same old college food. You know this college food is unhealthy and feel guilty because you have the means to make better college food. So what do you do? What college food can be made cheaply, but not be the same old thing? Why not have a roast, like your mom use to make?
Pot Roast Slow Cooker Style
1-2 pound chuck roast (bought on sale)
1 small bag of baby carrots
1 large onion cut into sections
2-4 small red potatoes
1 package of brown gravy mix
Place carrots, onions, and potatoes into the bottom of the slow cooker.
Place roast on top and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
When ready to eat make the brown gravy mix according to the package directions and pour over the roast and serve.
This meal probably costs around $6 to put together, if you buy the roast on sale. Plus if you have leftover roast, you can add a little BBQ sauce and heat in the microwave and serve on a hamburger bun for delicious lunch the next day.
Some more college food ideas for people who have full access to a kitchen include: beans cooked in the Slow cooker (which are VERY cheap), spaghetti, even with hamburger added, can be a very low cost option, quesadillas filled with different kinds of shredded cheese and leftover chicken or beef, are just a few cheap and easy college food ideas.
College food is what you make it. Of course you can live everyday eating the same old thing. But, if you put a little effort and thought into your meals you can have delicious meals that aren’t the same old thing. College food also doesn’t have to be unhealthy and fattening either. We’ve all heard of the Freshmen 15. If you want to avoid this, eat college food that is low in fat and calories and high in fiber.