Basic meals are gold: while Usdan provides a plethora of options, you may find that you get bored of them. At those times, you may decide to make venture into your dorm’s kitchen. Sure, many of the meals I ate freshman year consisted entirely of spoonfuls of peanut butter, granola bars, or frozen burritos, but that’s not necessarily a sustainable lifestyle.
I’m going to give you basic ideas for each meal of the day. They are easy enough to make in a dorm, but good enough that you would want to keep making them even if you found yourself with a luxury kitchen. Also, since they are just baselines, you can doctor or add to each idea in any way that appeals to you.
Scrambled eggs are a staple and can be made easily in five to 10 minutes. The only supplies you need are a pan, a bowl, and a fork. The only ingredients you need to make this dish taste good are eggs, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper, but if you want to get fancy, you can add some vegetables like onions, peppers, or broccoli. Or some cheese. Because everything is better with cheese.
Crack as many eggs as you wish to eat into a bowl, then add your seasoning. For every two eggs, a pinch of salt will suffice. I like a lot of pepper and will happily put in about a quarter teaspoon per two eggs, but if you are wary you should start with less. You can always add more at the end. Whisk the eggs with the fork, adding splashes of water as you whisk for extra fluffy eggs. Roughly a quarter cup of water should be fine. I have never used milk with eggs, but tradition says this would work as well.
Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Pour in the eggs, stirring very occasionally as they begin to solidify, breaking up any lumps that form. At this point, stir pretty much constantly to keep the eggs from sticking. When there is almost no liquid left, they are done. Remove them from the heat.
That’s all there is to it—though, as I mentioned, there are ways to dress it up. I always prefer to eat scrambled eggs with bread; toast is even better. Vegetables can be added sautéed or not, and you can add many other flavorings, such as sweet paprika, mustard powder, dill, or chives.
Lunch offers many simple options, though I have to admit that I’m not necessarily the most creative when it comes to making a meal in the middle of a busy day. If I must put together my own lunch instead of buying a meal, it usually consists of some combination of yogurt, carrots and peanut butter, bread, and frozen samosas.
However, let’s say you find yourself inspired to make something of your own for lunch, and you’re short on time. Hummus comes to mind as a good starting point for this challenge. Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor—a makeshift mortar and pestle will work just as well. Drain and rinse one can of chickpeas, and save about one third of the liquid in case the hummus turns out too dry. Mash the chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. If you have cumin, a perfect spice for additional flavoring, add about half a teaspoon. Lemon juice also makes a great flavor addition. Finally, keep mashing until you’ve worked up an appetite, and eat your concoction.
This hummus can be eaten with pita or vegetables, or can be the base of a sandwich. The leftovers will keep for several days, meaning you can take a day off from cooking tomorrow.
Let’s be real—when you’re feeling lazy but need to cook for yourself, you want cooking to mean “ramen.” There is a midpoint between this definition and “four course meal,” though, and I highly recommend it. I call it: “Creatively Combining Things from Cans and Jars.”
My favorite way to do this is to make stew, which is easy to make in a single pot. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and pour them into a pot with one cup of your favorite tomato sauce (preferably one without sugar, but those can be hard to come by). Heat the chickpeas and sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally. Cut any vegetables you have into small pieces and add them. Season with pepper and chili flakes. Let the stew cook until it is steadily bubbling. Remove from heat, top it with parmesan cheese, and devour it. If you eat it straight from the pot, you will have only one dish to clean, and you can go back to your homework only 15-20 minutes after you started cooking. (If you like to cook as an excuse to take long breaks from academic responsibilities, this is the wrong dish.)