In this post, we’ll cover the best dorm-ready recipes for college students. These meals are quick and simple to prepare, and they can be made with minimal cooking equipment. All you need is a kitchen and a few appliances, and you’re good to go.
You Don’t Have to Compromise on Food in College
College is a momentous, life-changing time, and you’ll never forget your years at school. However, college campuses are definitely not known for offering good food. That means that many students feel like they’re being left to fend for themselves when it comes to eating. The result? Lots and lots of ramen, fresh out of the microwave.
While the occasional cup of instant noodles can be a treat, you’ll start to go crazy if you live off ramen every day. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, give dorm cooking a try. You won’t regret it!
Here are just a few reasons to make your own meals on campus.
Getting a Meal Plan Can Be Pricey
Even though campus food doesn’t have the best reputation, it’s often expensive. You can end up adding several thousand dollars to your student loans over the course of four years of college just by signing up for a meal plan. On the other hand, cooking for yourself can save you tons of money and give you the freedom to enjoy meals that you love.
Making Meals = Making Friends
If you’re a first-year student, it’s natural to feel a little worried about making friends. You’re entering a new and unfamiliar environment, and you might not know anyone yet. It’s the perfect time to start cooking. If you have a dorm with a kitchen, making – and sharing – meals is one of the best ways to connect with the other students in your hall.
Food is relational. We eat meals together to enjoy quality time and share the experience of being nourished with each other. By making food for yourself and your new friends in your dorm, you’ll be able to establish lasting friendships! After all, nothing gets the conversation going like the smell of good food cooking.
The “Freshman 15” Is Real
Whether you’re in college already or about to start, you’re probably familiar with the “Freshman 15.”Legend has it that when you start college, the change in your environment, the availability of more junk food, and other factors can make it easier to gain weight – specifically around 15 extra pounds.
While it might sound a little goofy, the Freshman 15 is a real struggle for many college students. A key player in this extra weight gain is eating lots of highly processed food – the kind of stuff you’d find in your average dining hall or dorm kitchen.
Instead of getting stuck in unhealthy and unsustainable eating habits when you start college, try cooking for yourself as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be every day, but adding some homemade meals to your routine can make a big difference for your health – not just your physical health, either. Speaking of…
Home-Cooked Food is Good For Your Soul
If you’re feeling homesick and missing your favorite meals, bring a little bit of home to you by cooking in your dorm.
Even if the food on your campus tastes good, it doesn’t have the same comforting feeling that a homemade meal gives you. When you miss home, your family, and familiarity, cooking can be therapeutic, too. Making a meal is a great way to slow down, take it easy, and enjoy some downtime in the midst of a busy semester.
What Makes a Perfect Dorm-Ready Meal?
When it comes to cooking in college, simplicity is key. You probably don’t have a ton of space, so minimal pots, pans, and appliances is the way to go.
You don’t need a lot to make a great meal – the essentials are a refrigerator for storing ingredients, a stovetop, and a few good tools. One large pot, one pan, a spatula, a stirring spoon, and some other basic pieces of cookware will do the trick.
Just a Few Ingredients
We’re fans of recipes that contain just a few simple ingredients—in fact, we design all our recipes that way. That way, you’re not breaking the bank every time you go shopping. Plus, if you work with us, we’ll optimize your shopping list so that it includes the perfect amount of every ingredient, so you don’t have to worry about wasting food or taking up extra space in the fridge with unnecessary ingredients.
Keeping our ingredient lists simple allows all of the flavors in a recipe to pop, too. Sometimes, less is more, and that’s often the case with cooking.
We get it – you’re a busy college student with homework, extracurricular activities, and lots more on your plate. It’s hard enough to find time to eat! That’s why we recommend trying recipes that you can make quickly. We curate our recipes to make sure that they’re quick and easy to make, because we know you have a busy schedule.
Prep time and cook time can get long when you start making more complex dishes, so it’s a great move to start with simpler recipes. That way, you’ll have your food ready in just a few minutes.
Fewer ingredients and less cookware mean faster cleaning, which allows you to get on to the next part of your day after you eat. When you’re short on time, the last thing you want to do is wash a bunch of dishes, right? However, part of being a good roommate is cleaning up after yourself. So, opt for recipes that are easy to prepare and require minimal cleanup afterwards. Your roommates will thank you!
Now, without further ado, let’s look at some of our best dorm-ready recipes.
Pasta is comfort food, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need when you’re working through a long day of classes or a grueling night of studying. This recipe for burrata pasta tastes amazing, and it’ll give you plenty of fuel to conquer whatever the day holds.
If you’ve never cooked with fresh herbs, this recipe is the perfect place to start. It calls for just a bit of fresh basil, a staple in many Italian recipes. The basil helps the other flavors in the dish to pop out, complementing the sweet, juicy taste of cherry tomatoes and the creamy texture of the burrata cheese.
Our recipe for Burrata Pasta gets an extra burst of flavor from a bit of cured ham. Also known as prosciutto, you’ve probably tried this tasty meat as part of a fancy appetizer. While it’s often served as a snack, prosciutto goes great with pasta, and it doesn’t need to be cooked after you buy it.
These might sound like premium, super-pricey ingredients, but they’re more affordable than you might think. Even when you cook with fresh herbs, lots of veggies, and fine cheese, you very well might still end up paying less than you would for a college meal plan. When you’re living on a student’s budget, that’s a big win!
Ah, tuna. Chicken of the sea. Packed with protein – and lots of flavor, too.
We love tuna. It’s affordable, delicious, and super nutritious. Plus, you can keep cans of it in your dorm for months without worrying about them going bad. This wrap, made with tuna and other tasty ingredients, is the perfect quick lunch to grab in between study sessions. It’ll fill you up without taking too much time to make.
Wraps are the quintessential college meal. While you’d have to pay way too much for one from an on-campus restaurant or store, you can make them yourself for just a few dollars each. Just like our delicious burrata pasta, you’ll be amazed by how yummy and affordable these tuna wraps can be.
One of the highlights of our tuna wrap recipe is the addition of some lemon zest. If you’ve never zested a lemon before, you’re in for a treat – and some new culinary experience. All you need to do to zest the outside of the fruit is to scrape or gently cut small pieces of the rind—you can even use a cheese grater. They’ll come off easily, and then you can add them to the wrap for an extra burst of flavor.
It's the most important meal of the day, so why not make it in your dorm?
These Breakfast Muffins are absolutely scrumptious, and they’ll give you plenty of fuel for your early morning classes. A fresh take on the egg sandwich that you might find at a familiar fast food chain, this recipe is way better – and better for you – than anything with “Mc-” in the name.
A fried egg sandwich gives you the chance to put your best pan to good use. If you’re living in a dorm and don’t have a lot of space, one good frying pan is all you need. You’ll use that pan to fry up tasty eggs, cooking them to your liking. Less time will leave the yolks runny, while more cooking will brown the edges and harden the yolk. Some like their egg sandwiches with yolk running all over the place, while others prefer a no-mess breakfast. It’s up to you how you choose to make your eggs.
If you’re not crazy about fried eggs, you can also whip up a sandwich with some scrambled eggs instead. Scrambled eggs are a breakfast staple, and making them well is a skill that you’ll never regret having. Be careful, though – if you make a mean scrambled egg, your roommates will be begging you for breakfast all the time.
Want to know our breakfast muffin’s secret ingredient? Canadian bacon. Made from pork loin, this form of bacon is a bit more like ham than what most Americans are familiar with. While American bacon is derived from the belly of the pig, Canadian bacon is cut from an entirely different part of the body. Often cured in brine to make it nice and salty, a slice of Canadian bacon adds some class to your breakfast sandwich.
Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich
Everyone loves grilled cheese – but what if you could take it to the next level?
At JOW, we believe that no one should ever underestimate a sandwich. While they’re not typically considered the most gourmet meals, sandwiches can taste absolutely heavenly when made right. We think this Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich recipe is out of this world – and that it’s perfect for dorm room cooking.
All you need to make this sandwich is a good pan – you’ll find that a pan goes a long way when you live in a dorm with a small kitchen. You’ll use that pan to brown the outside of this sandwich on both sides, leaving it looking golden and delicious. By melting some butter on medium heat, you’ll turn your pan into ground zero for a mouth-watering piece of grilled heaven!
We added some fresh chives to this recipe to complement the rich flavors of Comté cheese and toasty, buttery bread. The result? Insanely good. Comté is a widely-used cheese in France, but it’s also available at stores in the US. However, if you can’t find it, opt for gruyère instead.
The Best Hot Chocolate Ever
Need some fuel for a late-night study session? Try making your own hot chocolate.
By melting down cooking chocolate and mixing it with milk and cocoa powder, you can make the most delicious cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever had. If you share this delicious drink with your roommates, they’ll be begging you to make it every night!
All you need to make your own hot chocolate is a good saucepan – or a pot if you’re short on cookware. Your milk and chocolate mixture shouldn’t quite boil, but it should be hot enough to be comforting, steamy, and delicious. Yum.
Ready to Get Cooking?
If you’re a student looking for more cooking inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Head over to our cooking page for recipes, tips, and more. We’ve got tons of delicious dorm-ready meals, so let’s get cooking!