In her new book, Recipes Every College Student Should Know (Quirk Books, Mar.), Christine Nelson, a food and lifestyle blogger, offers college-ready recipes for every meal. Aimed at students with access to kitchen basics (like a stove and a microwave), the book features recipes that rely on simple and ingredients and minimal gadgetry. Throughout, Nelson delivers some core pieces of wisdom about cooking in college. Here are five.
Don’t underestimate the microwave
Re-heater of last night’s dinner, converter of kernels into popcorn, the microwave may seem like a limited apparatus. Nelson, however, warns not to let appearances fool you; the microwave can be employed in a surprising number of ways. Cakes, potato chips, egg sandwiches: all can be made using only the zapper for heat.
Don’t call it leftovers
In a section of her book titled “Cook Once, Eat Twice,” Nelson advises readers to consider cooking a single large-ish quantity of protein at one time, then eating the fruits of your labor across multiple meals. The ground beef in your lunchtime tacos, for example, can be used at dinnertime to make Sloppy Joe's, and one pound of chicken breast can be divided between chicken chili and chicken casserole.
Learn to share
Another section of Nelson’s book, “Dormmate Dinners,” will appeal to roommates who have worked out a cooking schedule, wherein each takes a night to cook for all. Most of the recipes in this section—pasta with meatballs, chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans, pizza, and more—are relatively easy to make, and can, with some calculation, be doubled.
The dining hall is no place for first dates
Can you make a romantic dinner for two using only your student-housing kitchen equipment? Yes, says Nelson. Lemon chicken with potatoes requires only basic ingredients and can be made in less than an hour, using her recipe. Pasta with mushrooms and cheese—good for vegetarians—takes a quarter of the time.
Ramen: a college-cuisine joke no more
Ramen, even on a college campus, doesn’t have to bring up images of that pre-cooked cup (or block) of hard noodles. Nelson’s version, “Ramen Done Right,” uses rice noodles and a protein—beef or chicken—along with fresh ingredients, such as carrots and golden raisins. With only about 20 minutes of prep time required, the dish remains undergraduate-friendly.