Be your own Gor-Dorm Ramsey: Gourmet eating on a college budget

By Liv Barry
Elm Staff Writer

While Washington College has numerous places for students looking for a bite to eat, including the dining hall, Martha’s, and Java George, sometimes the food provided by the school’s dining plan doesn’t satisfy the craving for a home-cooked meal.

For college students lacking money, kitchen tools, and motivation, making one’s own meals can be difficult. Just because it’s difficult, however, doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

Like any good chef, college students should start with a rotation of basic recipes; any typical college meal can easily be elevated with just a few extra ingredients that you have on hand.

Ramen noodles, the most infamous college meal, is a dish that students naturally gravitate towards because of its convenience and low price.

While ramen is enjoyable on its own, it is also incredibly easy to build on and make into a hearty meal rather than a quick snack.

Essentially any ingredient can be added into ramen after it has been cooked, making it easy for picky eaters and food lovers alike to personalize.

To transform regular ramen into a more nutritious meal, Justine Sterling, Delish contributor suggests, “a few handfuls of fresh, precut vegetables from the salad bar — such as green peppers, tomatoes, or peas — thrown into the hot pot while the ramen is cooking will raise the nutritional value of the popular midnight meal.”

For students with access to a kitchen in their common room, a fried egg, bacon, and chopped scallions are a great way to add some protein and vegetables into a typically sodium-heavy meal.

For those without access to a kitchen, however, ramen can still be customized with scrambled eggs and any frozen vegetable that can be prepared in a microwave.

Similarly, omelets prepared in a mug can be customized to your heart’s content.

Red peppers, onions, and mushrooms can easily be prepared on a dorm desk and added into an omelet. This is an ideal dorm meal for vegetarian students who do not have as many dining options at on-campus eateries.

Street tacos made with a thawed frozen vegetable mix, store-bought salsa, cilantro, and mini tortillas can be the perfect vegetarian substitute to the street tacos that are served in the dining hall for special occasions.

It can also be difficult to satiate sweet tooth cravings without going off-campus for ice cream or a milkshake.

For students with access to a blender, fruit smoothies double as a great breakfast food as well as a sweet after-class snack.

Frozen fruit mixes can be expensive, though, so try to scout out the dining hall to see what fruits you can nab. The dining hall is usually stocked with pineapples and bananas, which serve as great bases for smoothies.

Many students don’t have access to blenders, however. In this case, hot chocolate is the perfect way to keep warm as the weather gets colder. Hot chocolate can be prepared as is or customized with whipped cream, mini marshmallows, caramel sauce, or mini peppermint sticks.

“Try maple syrup instead of sugar; a pinch or two of cinnamon, cardamom or ancho chile powder,” Amanda Biddle, founder of cooking website Striped Spatula, says in an interview with CNN Underscored. “The possibilities are endless!”

For students without access to an oven, a mug cake can be a great reward after cramming for a test or finishing a paper.

Mug cake kits are sold at both ACME and Redner’s, but can also be prepared with cheap baking ingredients that you might have on hand.

On top of school work, sports, clubs, and on-campus jobs, cooking for yourself can be a daunting task, but the hard work that you put into it reaps yummy rewards.

Photo by Izze Rios

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