How to cook in the dorm

Food is important to most people. In college, living in a dorm poses many problems when it comes to food and cooking. Most college freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus in dorms unless they meet certain conditions. This also means that they have to eat their meals, for the most part, in cafeterias throughout campus. While, for the most part, campus food is adequate and certainly enough nourishment to sustain any individual for the course of the year, there are bound to be times when young adults simply want a snack, or something different then the usual cafeteria offerings. This is when they need to know how to cook in the dorm.

As most freshmen soon discover, dorms are not equipped with any means with which to cook. There are no stoves, sinks, or toasters. There aren’t even refrigerators, though that has been changing in recent years with many colleges offering the option for rent. These shortcomings don’t necessarily mean that a college dorm student can’t cook a decent meal in their own room.

The first thing when you want to know how to cook in the dorm is to know that there are small appliances that can substitute for larger ones. Microwave ovens are perhaps the most common, and popular, though aside from potatoes, they don’t necessarily produce the best home-cooked meals. Toaster ovens may be small, but they offer most of the same qualities of conventional ovens. And then there are hot plates, or small two-burner electric appliances. These can be stored when not in use –just make sure they are allowed to cool before stuffing them in the back corner of the closet.

How to cook in a dorm can take on an art form in itself. The most important thing to consider is the size of the meal. A dorm student is not going to be able to prepare a five-course meal for him and twelve friends. These dorm meals are best suited to individual or two-person servings. Recipes will usually note up front how many people they are intended to serve, as do boxes of pasta and soups and such. Determine the quantity of people a particular recipe is intended for and adjust the ingredient count accordingly.

For instance, if a recipe for six people calls for one and a half quarts of milk, divide that by six if it’s for yourself, by three if it’s for you and one other.

Cooking requires patience and practice in any setting. If you are an experience cook and know your way around a kitchen, still exercise patience, as dorm cooking will pose new challenges and obstacles. If you’re completely new to cooking, start with simple items, such as soup, grilled cheese, or boxed, pre-packaged meals that only require adding milk or water or butter or any combination thereof.

With today’s technology, there’s no reason any student can’t cook a quality meal in their dorm. Just remember to always turn off appliances and unplug them when not in use.