Making Do in Your Limited Dorm Kitchen

I know you’ve been working on that paper all night. You even forced yourself to stay awake, refusing to let yourself sleep with the promise that you’ll “finish in the morning,” by doing your laundry at one in the morning. You’ve been awake for approximately 19 hours at this point and you are running on empty. You want some brain food, but nothing is open. What will you do?

Alright, let’s go for another scenario. You normally wake up to meet your friend for breakfast at 8 before both of you have to part to attend your 9 a.m. class, but today you accidentally set your alarm for 8:30 p.m. instead of a.m., and you find yourself drifting into consciousness right around 8:36. Your friend probably thinks you’ve been kidnapped by gypsies, but she needs her sustenance, too, so she went ahead and ate without you. There is no way you have time to get dressed, get ALL the way to the cafe, and get to your class in the next 24 minutes. What are you going to do?

We have all heard the countless rumors about eating on campus: some of which hold a certain degree of truth. There are restricting hours to use your meal plan in the Lane center, and cafe food can occasionally be less than desirable. Sometimes you just don’t have the time or the energy to leave your dorm to eat. In-dorm eating can be difficult, but with just a few simple groceries and a couple tricks up your sleeve you can conquer anything (or at least your 2 a.m. cravings).

Your dorm is equipped with quite a lot in its fridge-freezer-microwave combination. I have made many a concoction in those poor microwaves. Turns out if you use soup instead of milk in instant mashed potatoes you have unlocked a delicious secret. My favorite soup to use is broccoli cheese, but any variety will do. By far my best investment for dorm cooking, however, has been a personal-sized blender. For twenty dollars I got the base and two compatible bottles. You can find these at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or nearly anywhere that sells normal small kitchen appliances. The brand I have is Oyster, but I believe you can find other brands as well. These personal blenders are designed for making shakes, and although they have other uses, shakes have become a thriving staple in my dorm eating. Shakes are absolutely fantastic for breakfast. They are fast, portable, filling, and delicious, and chances are you already have most of the needed ingredients. While you’re out buying your personal blender, get a protein powder that you like. These powders come in many different varieties (including a large range in price).

This morning was particularly dreary, so I decided I needed a smoothie that would bring out the fall vibes that continuously come and go here in Frostburg. I have a basic vanilla soy powder that goes well with any variety of smoothie I want to make; I am always a big propagator of versatility. You can mix protein powder with either water or milk, I just happen to think milk makes the smoothies taste better. I buy a half gallon of milk and keep it in my fridge so I can make smoothies, pasta meals, and mashed potatoes. I don’t use it too quickly, but I definitely get it taken care of before it goes bad. Anyway, if you don’t plan on using milk very often, water is perfectly acceptable, but this is the only ingredient that has a shelf life of less than a veritable eternity (semester).

As well as protein powder and some sort of liquid (milk, water, or juice), you will need peanut butter and an apple that you snagged on the way out of the cafe last night. When I left for college, my mom sent me on my way with three containers of different kinds of peanut butter: I thought my poor mother had gone completely insane. I was wrong. Peanut butter is a great snack on graham crackers, in smoothies, on sandwiches, and straight into your mouth with a spoon. If you want something more substantial, you can cook your ramen noodles, drain most of the water, and add a few scoops of peanut butter with some microwaved veggies to make your own (very cheap) pad thai! Once again, versatility is key. Make sure you can use whatever groceries you buy as many ways as possible.

Back on track, here’s how you make this delicious fall smoothie:
1. Put a full scoop of protein powder in your blender bottle.
2. Add enough liquid to fill up your bottle about 2/3 of the way.
3. Spoon in some peanut butter. One scoop, eight scoops, it’s up to you and your taste preferences. I used three pretty hefty spoonfuls.
4. Crudely cut up your acquired apple with a butter knife.
5. Realize that apples have juice in them.
6. Wipe off your desk.
7. Promise your roommate that teachers love it when their papers smell like apples.
8. Add the crudely chopped apple to the bottle.
9. Twist on the blending lid and blend it up!
In two minutes, you have made a delicious and healthy breakfast, and you are ready to head to class. Happy microwaving, all!

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