CLOSE
iStock
iStock

8 Dorm Room Food Hacks

iStock
iStock

Heading off to college can be a big adjustment for anyone: there are new people to meet, new enrollment systems to figure out, and too many social opportunities to count. However, one important thing can get lost in the shuffle—where are you going to eat when you have to fend for yourself? Whether you’re on a meal plan or cooking on your own for the first time, here are some tips and tricks to make your food experience a little simpler, healthier, and cheaper.

1. GET A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE.

Okay, so this isn’t technically a food hack, per se, but staying hydrated is an important element of dorm eating. For one, the mild hunger you get for afternoon (or midnight) snacks is often caused by dehydration, so you can cut back on your snack budget by drinking enough water. Many universities offer filtered water stations and even free water bottles, making a habit of keeping a water bottle in your backpack even easier. Plus, hangovers are made drastically worse by dehydration, so plan to drink up all day if you intend to party at night.

2. DRESS UP YOUR RAMEN.

Ramen is an obvious college student staple, but it’s not all that filling or healthy. However, if you add a few extra ingredients—an egg, some fresh veggies, a little meat—and some flavorings beyond the included packet, like Sriracha, soy sauce, or peanut butter, you have a full and filling meal without a hefty price tag.

3. GET CREATIVE WITH A KETTLE.

Regulations on cooking equipment in a dorm room can be pretty strict, but almost all colleges allow an electric kettle. While you might not have considered getting one if you don’t drink tea regularly, they have plenty of other uses. You can make a quick, hot breakfast by keeping instant oatmeal packets on hand, and many soup mixes and noodles only need boiled water as well. And, speaking of tea, many also release caffeine slower than coffee, so they provide a longer lasting and more gentle burst of energy, all without being dehydrating.

4. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MEAL PLAN.

If you have a meal plan, take advantage of all the benefits. Hard boiled eggs, individual servings of peanut butter, fruit, and dry cereal are all easy to carry out with you to stave off the munchies until your next meal. This only works if your dining hall charges by meal, as opposed to per item, unfortunately. Shoplifting from the hand that feeds you is never a good idea, but if you can grab an apple to go, it's a healthy habit to get into.

5. TAKE THE TIME TO GO TO A REAL GROCERY STORE.

Convenience stores are, as the name implies, convenient—there’s one on every campus. However, the prices there are ridiculously inflated [PDF], so taking the time to hop a bus or hitch a ride with a friend with a car to visit a legitimate grocery store can really benefit your wallet. Stock up on dry goods you can prepare in your room, and a few fruits and veggies that you can reasonably finish off before they spoil.

6. KNOW A FEW STAPLE MEALS.

After classes, extracurriculars, and long study group sessions at the library, you'll likely be exhausted and starving when you make it back to your room at the end of the day. The last thing you’ll want to do is make something complicated for dinner, but if you take the time early on to lock down a few easy recipes, like spicy dragon noodles, eggs and toast, or even just beans and rice—ones that you can throw together without thinking—and you’ll thank yourself later.

7. MICROWAVE MORE THAN FROZEN FOOD.

If you’re lucky enough to have a microwave in your dorm room, you’ll probably be tempted to live entirely off of frozen food. But put down the Pizza Rolls—there’s a whole world of fresh foods that can be cooked in a microwave. Omelets, muffins, and even salmon dishes can all be made in a microwave, and with surprisingly little effort.

8. KNOW HOW TO MAKE A GOOD DESSERT.

Mug cake recipes are everywhere on Pinterest, but most of them turn out terribly spongy and gummy. It turns out, the culprit is the egg. Most full sized cakes call for two or three eggs, so a single-serving cake recipe that has a whole egg throws the texture completely off. But find a good recipe for a microwaveable, egg-free mug cake, and your post-dinner chocolate cravings won't have to compete with your need to Netflix binge with your roommate.

All images via iStock.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Food Going Bad? How to Set the Correct Temperature For Your Fridge
iStock
iStock

Depending on the size of your household, your grocery bill can sometimes outpace utility costs or other expenses, making it one of the biggest monthly expenditures in your budget. If you've spent that money on organic, fresh produce, watching it go bad faster than it should can be a frustrating experience.

If your lettuce is getting icy or your meat is smelling a little fishy, the problem might be your refrigerator's temperature setting. While many newer fridge models have digital thermometers that make checking for the correct temperature easy—it should be right around 37°F, with your freezer at 0°F—others have a manual dial that offers ambiguous settings numbered from one to five or one to 10.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to make the knob match your ideal climate. Refrigerator thermometers are available at home goods stores or online and provide a digital readout of the refrigerator's interior that's usually accurate within 1°F. Leave the thermometer on the middle shelf to get the correct reading.

Once you have the appliance set, be sure to check it periodically to make sure it's maintaining that temperature. Packing too much food on your shelves, for example, tends to make the interior warmer. If the coils need to be cleaned, it might be retaining more heat. Kept at a steady 37°F, your food should remain fresh, safe, and perfectly cold.

 

[h/t Reader's Digest]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Universal Orlando Resort
arrow
Food
Voodoo Doughnut Is Coming to the East Coast (Finally!)
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort

Voodoo Doughnut, the beloved Portland purveyor of creative pastries, is finally coming to the East Coast. The company is opening a shop at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, according to Travel + Leisure.

The original Voodoo Doughnut opened in Portland, Oregon in 2003. An early adopter of the maple-bacon dessert trend, it became famous for its Maple Bacon Bar and has since added doughnuts that incorporate other quirky flavors like bubble gum dust, Tang, and Fruit Loops. (At one point, the company sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil, as well as one called a Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, but both of those have been discontinued by order of the health department.) Several of its unique flavors have also been turned into beers by the Oregon-based Rogue Ale.

A chocolate doughnut with a candy skull inside the hole.
A Dia de los Muertos-themed doughnut
Mathieu Thouvenin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The popular Portland location usually features a line out the door and down the block, and the company now has outposts in Eugene, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles. It has such a cult following that the stores will not just provide doughnuts for your wedding—they will host the ceremony. Now, East Coast doughnut lovers will be able to get in on the action, too.

The Universal Orlando CityWalk store has opened already, but it’s still in preview mode, meaning the hours can vary, and there's no guarantee it will be open every day. When it officially opens later this spring, it will be serving up more than 50 types of doughnuts seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios