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Easy Recipes for College Dorms

Updated on April 21, 2015
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Marcy writes about cooking, hobbies, and many other topics. She has published hundreds of articles online and in newspapers and magazines.

You can make great meals and snacks in your dorm room

Easy | healthy meals to make in your dorm or small apartment.
Easy | healthy meals to make in your dorm or small apartment. | Source

Great Ideas for Quick Meals and Tasty Dorm Food

Do you feel like your cooking options are limited because you live in a dorm and your 'kitchen' consists of a microwave and a toaster oven?

Wrong!

You can make mini-pizzas, great sandwiches and even individual servings of cake with nothing more than the appliances listed above (and maybe a tiny refrigerator, if you're using fresh ingredients that need to be kept chilled).

These recipes will get you off to a good start, and you can add to your repertoire as you get the knack of creating good, nutritious dishes with little or no preparation.

The recipes below are for individual portions, but you can easily adapt them to share with your roommates!

Step-by-step instructions for pizza on a toasted English muffin

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These mini pizzas are quick and delicious. Why order out?Ingredients for one serving:  English muffin, mozzarella cheese, tomato and fresh mushrooms.
These mini pizzas are quick and delicious. Why order out?
These mini pizzas are quick and delicious. Why order out? | Source
Ingredients for one serving:  English muffin, mozzarella cheese, tomato and fresh mushrooms.
Ingredients for one serving: English muffin, mozzarella cheese, tomato and fresh mushrooms. | Source
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Pizza on an English Muffin

Do you love pizza, but you're on a diet? You can make a great-tasting mock pizza from English muffins, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and fresh mushrooms.

Here's what you'll need for each serving:

  • One English muffin (lightly toasted works well, and whole wheat is the most nutritious)
  • One slice mozzarella cheese, divided into squares (can use more if desired)
  • One tomato (sliced)
  • 2-3 mushrooms (sliced)

If the English muffin has been refrigerated or frozen, toast it for a few minutes in the toaster oven. Then split it open and place the cheese squares on the cut side each half to form one layer. A single slice actually covers both halves of one split muffin well, without drooping over the sides.

Add a layer of the sliced tomatoes (you can add salt and pepper at this stage if desired). Then top with the sliced mushrooms. Feel free to pile on the mushrooms, they shrink up a bit when broiled.

Place the prepared muffins in the toaster oven (you might need a foil liner) or under the broiler of a regular oven. Broil or toast for a few minutes - watching closely to keep from burning the edges. When the cheese has melted and started to brown a bit, it's time to remove them and enjoy!

The nutrition breakdown will depend on the type of muffins you use (the ones shown are whole wheat double-fiber by Oroweat, with 120 calories and eight grams of fiber in each muffin. The cheese used here is part-skim mozzarella, containing 80 calories per slice and only six grams of fat.

These make a great, nutritious snack or breakfast, and at only 200 calories (plus the veggies), it can't be beat. The mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese are great to have on hand for sandwiches and salads later in the week.

Step-by-step instructions for microwave BLT sandwich

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These yummy sandwiches don't require a stove or skillet!Cook in microwave until crisp.Be sure to cover bacon slices while cooking in the microwave.
These yummy sandwiches don't require a stove or skillet!
These yummy sandwiches don't require a stove or skillet! | Source
Cook in microwave until crisp.
Cook in microwave until crisp. | Source
Be sure to cover bacon slices while cooking in the microwave.
Be sure to cover bacon slices while cooking in the microwave. | Source
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Low-Fat Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

Who doesn't love good old greasy, crunchy BLTs? Aside from the huge does of saturated fat regular bacon provides, the mayonnaise isn't that great for you, and you can get too many difficult-to-burn carbs from regular bread.

Although BLTs taste great, despite the cholesterol hit, they're messy to make if you fry real bacon in a skillet.

This version, though, will give you all the taste of a BLT with much less chance of clogging your arteries. And you don't need a regular stove to pull it off!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices reduced-calorie, double-fiber whole wheat bread
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 slices turkey bacon
  • Sliced tomato
  • Salad greens

Toast the bread as desired. Spread each slice with low-fat mayo (a tip - if you add salt and pepper at this stage by sprinkling on the mayo-covered bread, the grains stick to the mayo and still add the flavor you want).

Add the sliced tomato and salad greens, top with the other slice of bread and munch away. If you're already planning to eat salads each week, this is a great way to use up some of the greens and to have lettuce on your sandwiches without buying a head of that iceberg stuff.

The nutritional breakdown will depend on the exact type of mayo or dressing you use, the type of bread and the type of turkey bacon. The version shown used medium-sliced bacon (at 25 calories a slice), with at least a third less saturated fat than regular bacon. The bread here is 50 calories a slice, with five grams of fiber per slice. Regular bread has 80-100 calories (almost twice) per slice and much less fiber. The mayonnaise has only half the calories of regular mayo.

Using turkey bacon not only cuts down on the fat content, but it creates less of those 'offensive' odors we get from regular bacon when it's microwaved in a small environment. And, as mentioned, these BLTs taste great and don't give your arteries a hard time.

Cake in a Mug! Yes, really!

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Enjoy!  These cakes are yummy, and just the right size for one person.Choose two cake mixes, but make certain one is Angel Food.Dump both mixes into a large zipper bag, seal and then squeeze the bag with your hands to combine the mixes. For each serving, put 3 tablespoons of mix and 2 tablespoons of water in a mug & stir.Microwave on high for one minute.
Enjoy!  These cakes are yummy, and just the right size for one person.
Enjoy! These cakes are yummy, and just the right size for one person. | Source
Choose two cake mixes, but make certain one is Angel Food.
Choose two cake mixes, but make certain one is Angel Food. | Source
Dump both mixes into a large zipper bag, seal and then squeeze the bag with your hands to combine the mixes.
Dump both mixes into a large zipper bag, seal and then squeeze the bag with your hands to combine the mixes. | Source
For each serving, put 3 tablespoons of mix and 2 tablespoons of water in a mug & stir.
For each serving, put 3 tablespoons of mix and 2 tablespoons of water in a mug & stir. | Source
Microwave on high for one minute.
Microwave on high for one minute. | Source

A small microwave oven is just right for dorm life

How about you?

Have you cooked in a dorm room before?

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Great Tasting, Single-Serving Microwave Cake

Yes, for real cake, in the microwave!

This recipe is incredibly simple, and delicious to boot. One great feature is that you prepare a batch of 'mix' at once that's large enough to last you all semester (or at least for a few parties with your closest dorm friends).

It's easy as 1-2-3 to make a single-serving cake (make that 3-2-1; you'll see why).

For the mix you'll need:

  • 1 box of angel food cake (any brand)
  • 1 box of cake mix (whatever flavor you wish; any brand)

Make certain that one mix is angel food; that's part of the secret that makes the recipe work.

Empty both boxes of cake mix into a gallon-size, plastic sealable bag, then squeeze and mush the bag around a bit to mix them together well.

Instructions for Preparation:

  • 3 Tablespoons Mix
  • 2 Tablespoons of water
  • Coffee mug or other tall, microwave-safe container

Put the 3 tablespoons of mix and the 2 tablespoons of water into the mug or container and stir slightly (don't oil the mug in advance, and don't beat or whip the mixture).

Microwave for one minute. That's it - it's done! Allow to cool very briefly, then turn onto a plate (or just hold it in your hand if it's cooled enough and you can't wait to try it).

It makes one cylinder-shaped serving, and would taste heavenly with a dollop of ice cream or whipped topping while it's still warm from the microwave! The cake will have the texture and sponginess of angel food cakes.

Why it works: The angel food mix already has egg whites in it, and the combination of the two mixes doesn't require you to add eggs, calorie-laden oil, or even grease the mug before you cook it.

As it cooks, it forms into what resembles a tall muffin, and separates from the side of the mug, which makes it easy to remove. You can try other containers for microwaving, but a regular mug works well and doesn't overflow on the sides.

If you use a cake mix with dried fruit or other dried ingredients (as carrot cake might have), allow the blended mix to sit for a bit to plump up the dehydrated ingredients.

Nutrition Information: As with the recipes above, calories and other information will depend on the type of mix you use to begin with. I used a Betty Crocker Super Moist mix (triple chocolate fudge). If I'd made the chocolate cake as directed, it would have been 160 calories per serving (and all servings would be ready to eat at once). The angel food servings were 140 each.

But the microwave dorm version here adds up to only 68 calories per serving, since you're not adding eggs or oil, and each serving uses only three tablespoons of mix.

This is a great mix to create and send off to kids away at college or in the military. One bag keeps for several months (about a semester, if it doesn't get eaten first), and makes 48 servings. That's a lot of evenings of late-night studying, or several dorm-room gatherings of your closest campus buddies.

More Tips for Quick and Easy Dorm Food

Once you get the hang of minimalist cooking, you'll be amazed at what you can make with very little equipment. You might want to get a George Foreman Grill to round out your kitchen appliances; those are great for single-serving portions of chicken, fish and steak or for making toasted sandwiches.

More Recipe Ideas:

  • Toasted open-faced ham and cheese sandwich: Layer a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese on lightly toasted bread, then place under the broiler setting until the cheese starts to melt. You can also add mushrooms or tomatoes for other flavor tricks.
  • Cheese Toast: This longtime favorite is especially easy with a toaster oven. Toast the bread slightly, then remove and add your favorite cheese, and toast or broil again until it starts to brown and melt a little. You can also add a slice of tomato and some fresh mushroom slices to make it more tasty.
  • Triscuit, Cheese & Avocado Bites: This super-easy snack is delicious, has good nutrition (avocado is a great source of unsaturated fats), and takes just a few seconds to make. Top Triscuit crackers with a slice of Swiss cheese (one slice will cover four crackers), and add thinly sliced avocado. Beware - this one is addictive!
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup: If you have a microwave as well as a toaster oven or a George Foreman Grill, you can make this stand-by comfort food without using a heavy pot or skillet. Make the grilled cheese sandwich in the toaster oven or smashed between the plates of the portable grill, and heat up the soup in a large bowl in the microwave. You can save the leftover soup for the next day, or share it with your roommate.
  • Hummus-Stuffed Eggs: Do you love deviled eggs, but you're wary of the fat content? Hard boiled eggs are easy to make. Boil a few, peel, slice in half and then stuff with hummus (the flavor of your choice). You can use the yolks for a chopped salad or other dishes if you wish. The hummus is moist and flavorful enough on its own; you won't require mayo for this recipe!
  • Hummus-Stuffed Celery: if you love crunchy celery, but you want to cut down on fattening peanut butter, try stuffing a few stalks with hummus. You'll get protein and the satisfaction of crunching away, without as much fat.

These are just a few ways to eat well with little preparation, and a limited inventory of kitchen equipment. Your years in a college dorm don't have to be filled with boring snacks or empty, fast-food calories. Use these ideas to plan tasty meals, and you'll also save money. How about a movie after you're done studying?

Enjoy!

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