Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dorm Cooking 101

The starving college student subsisting on a diet of ramen noodles and powdered macaroni and cheese is a cliché strongly based in reality, but it doesn’t have to be. When I started college nearly 25 years ago, microwaves were rare in a dorm setting and few students had access to real kitchens. I refused to subject myself to dining hall food, so I came up with a plan where I could cook for myself and save all that meal plan money.

Since space in a dorm room is at a premium, simplicity is the key. I ate well my freshman year in college while cooking on just a hot plate. Here is my spaghetti and meat sauce recipe for dorm cooking.

Dorm Room Spaghetti

Required tools:
Medium skillet (10”).
4 quart sauce pan
Electric hot plate
Plastic plate

½ box dry spaghetti
4 oz ground beef
¼ jar spaghetti sauce

Note: If you have a weekly shopping list of 1 pound of hamburger, two boxes of spaghetti and one jar of sauce, this recipe will last for four days.

Fill sauce pan half full of water out of gang bathroom sink. Set aside. Turn on hot plate, place skillet on hot plate and fry hamburger in skillet. Use spatula to chop ground beef to desired fineness. Once beef is done, remove skillet from hot plate. Place pan of water on hot plate. Take skillet of ground beef and spatula to bathroom and drain grease in the shower. Do not spill ground beef. Return to dorm room.

Once water is boiling, place spaghetti in pot and cook for 8-10 minutes. Once spaghetti is al dente (sticks to wall), remove pot from hot plate and place skillet back on. Add spaghetti sauce and reduce heat.

Take pot of spaghetti and colander to bathroom. Drain noodles into colander over sink. Pick a sink not clogged with hair. Return to dorm room. Transfer noodles to plate, pour meat and sauce over noodles. Enjoy jealous stares from roommate returning from dining hall.

Repeat four days a week for the entire ten week quarter. Refuse to eat spaghetti again for ten years.

The downside of this meal plan is that in only takes you through four days. For the weekends, you need a little variety. If you pocket the savings from the full meal plan, you can afford to buy the ingredients for my other college recipe:

Hunch Punch

1 fifth grain alcohol
2 quarts fruit punch (Hi-C or equal)

Combine ingredients in an empty rinsed milk jug. Start drinking Friday afternoon and continue until milk jug is empty, you pass out, or Monday arrives.

Bon Appétit!

Blatant Comment Whoring™: What is your economy meal?


Anonymous said...

Jeez, so that's what I missed going to a commuter college. My step-father was a great cook. It was AFTER i'd gotten a job and moved out I was eating rice and hot dogs.

Error Flynn

Anonymous said...

We didn't have a fridge, so I would make powdered milk with water from the bathroom and eat cereal all the time. Yuck, I don't miss those meals.

Anonymous said...

This is our economy meal now - with two vegetarian kids. Doctor a can of refried beans with a little taco seasoning, heat. Make burritos with beans, flour tortillas and some shredded cheese. Bake for ~15 minutes at 300. Serve with salsa. For a side, mix a small can of tomato sauce with some sugar, chili powder, chopped onions, chopped green pepper, salt, pepper and two cansful of water. Add 3 cups instant rice. Stir and steam. Whole meal costs ~$3, total.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Elizabeth - eeewwwww! My mom used to make us drink powdered milk all the time when we were kids - hate it. But at least hers was thoroughly chilled!

Anonymous said...

Used to be convenience store tacos. My older and wiser digestive system suggests cheap Chinese instead - since it usually lasts a couple of meals. Oh - and you are tagged.

Anonymous said...

In the days before ramen was available, there was "Instant Rice" (Minute Rice)and "Chunky Soup" and hamburger. I thought I was a genius. Cook the meat with a bit of garlic powder, and it was possible to completely stink up my entire corner of the dorm floor.

Anonymous said...

I would eat Chef Boyardee ravioli straight from the can, cold. Only the ravioli, though. I did have standards.

Hunch Punch reminds me of the vodka laced Kool Aid I used to drink back in the day. I'm embarrassed to think of the mayhem that resulted from it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think I ate anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I was in college. Skippy chunky pb, Welche's Grape Jelly, and the cheapest white bread Giant Foods sold.

Hmmm. I think I know what I'm having for lunch today.


Anonymous said...

I used to make a tuna casserole out of mac & cheese, tuna fish and thawed-out frozen peas (canned simply wouldn't do!). Crush the potato chips on top and warm it all together in the oven for 20 minutes.

Hot F-in' Tuna. Heh.

You shoulda come out last night.