Cheap and Easy Dorm Meals – Beyond Mac & Cheese

[ 1 ] August 27, 2010 |

It’s bound to happen. Halfway through your semester, the cafeteria college dorm food starts to lose its luster. But never fear! When dorm snacks and food get dull, here are a few recipes for impressing your palette and your new friends without spending a fortune on dining out.

Scrumptious Starters

It sneaks up on you when you least expect it, damaging your health and budget. It’s the Freshman 15. To keep healthy, simply add veggies to your diet. One easy idea is to slice tomatoes and sprinkle basil on top. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and voila! They’re perfect eaten hot or cold.

College is a time to growup and mature, but eating-wise it helps to look back on your childhood. Ants on a Log using celery, peanut butter and raisins are not only delicious, but pretty healthy too. It’s just enough to keep your stomach from growling in the middle of a lecture.


A rice cooker is usually allowed in dorm rooms, but check just in case. I found an affordable one at (use our coupons to save 10%). Your friends can even get in on the action, because 3 cups of rice goes a long way!

Brown rice is rich with nutrients and goes with pretty much everything, so explore! Try raisins and grapes, feta cheese and tomatoes, or add a bit of rice to those leftover fast food burritos from last night.

Main Event – Gourmet Mac & Cheese

Your best bet is to find dorm room food to cook in a microwave. Yes, I said “beyond mac & cheese,” but hear me out. Put pasta in a bowl with salted water and cook in the microwave for about 10 minutes. Once finished, pour cold water over it to shock the pasta and stop it from overcooking and turning to mush. At this point, stir in shredded cheese and salsa, hot sauce, or apples and fennel for a truly unique bite. You can get other amazing microwave dishes at

Dessert (in 5 minutes or less)

Rosemary Bananas are the perfect complement to your takeout chicken or a treat during a study break. Most dorm kitchens have a toaster oven, which means you can be eating this dish in 5 minutes or less.

  • Cover tray in tin foil & brush with butter
  • Slice bananas in half & brush with a tiny amount of butter for caramelization
  • Brush with a tiny bit of maple syrup & sprinkle on some rosemary
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes & enjoy!

For a healthy dessert or snack alternative, grab some fresh fruit and protein powder. Throw it in the blender and enjoy a delicious smoothie anytime. If an actual blender isn’t allowed, check to see if a smaller hand blender is. All in all it’ll be way less than your on-campus fast food juice.

To end, one of the best purchases you can make is at least one good cookbook. I liked Gourmet Meals in Crappy Kitchens from But just because your kitchen’s crappy doesn’t mean your meals have to be. And if you’re totally useless in the dorm kitchen, make friends with the culinary students. That pays off big time.

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About Lindy: Lindy started writing at age 8, when she completed her first story entitled Clio the Talking Cat. Fast-forward a few years into the future, and she’s happily moved on to writing celebrity shopping and frugal posts. Lindy lives with her cat (who doesn’t talk), enjoys lazy weekends at the cottage and old episodes of The Golden Girls. View author profile.

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  1. Max says: is the reason why I didn’t live off of ramen my freshman year.

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