When the year starts, dorm food doesn’t seem so bad. The thought of surviving off a diet of chicken nuggets and tacos may even excited you at first. But as the year drags on, the thought of eating one more generic turkey sandwich or bland pasta dish probably makes you want to scream, cry, or both. You miss the delectable meals that your family and friends cook back home. Heck, you will take anything that isn’t served with tongs.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about eating another unsatisfactory bite. There are a few simple tricks to adding flavor, making your meals last longer, and avoiding those questionable dining halls.
Plant your own herb garden
You can’t get much fresher and flavor-packed food than if you cultivate it yourself. While having a vegetable garden might be hard when you live in a dorm, a small herb garden is completely possible. Pick up some inexpensive bags of seeds (they seriously cost a dollar or two) and plant them in a cute pot. You’ll have an added piece of home décor and will save money on seasonings, garnishes, and herbs. If you want to get next level with your green thumb, you can also look into community gardens that will allow you to take your own share of fresh fruits and vegetables if you volunteer some time to water plants or weed.
Pick your favorite cookbooks
Whether you want to stick with pretty spiral-bound hardcovers that you can dog-ear and highlight, or if you want to customize your own collection of recipes on Pinterest, it’s a good idea to memorize a couple easy-to-make meals. I prefer using physical books, that way you can take notes of how you vary the recipe–or if you’re stuck without wifi or doing a digital-free dinner night with friends, you can refer to these on a whim.
Know Your Key Ingredients
There are so many simple ingredients and spices that you can use to make your food taste less bland and pack more punch. If you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to eat at your dorm, BYOS to hack your meal. A teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract can quickly take your instant oatmeal or pancakes from a zero to heavenly. Garlic powder and no-salt seasoning will be the subtle savory notes in your main dishes that will keep you going back for seconds. Find a select few of your favorite one-ingredient wonders that you’ll always have on hand.
(Photo via @blondiesblends)
Meal Prep is Best
When you spend most of your time scheduled, the last thing you probably want to do with your free time is cook. But meal prepping can actually save you a ton of time. These words can be a bit intimidating, but meal prep doesn’t have to be an elaborate day-long process. Buying ingredients in bulk can often save you money and allows you to cook for two or three people. Use some brightly colored food storage containers to portion out your leftovers. Recipes like a crockpot stew or stir-fry are good meals options that will still have the same delicious taste even after a few days and take minimal time on your part to cook. It’ll be nice to know the extra half hour you spend on making a lunch or planning dinner can be used for sleeping in or grabbing coffee on the way to class.
What other ways have you found to avoid or hack the boring dorm food? Let us know in the comments below!