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Sep 23, 2008 08:54 AM

I Have A Challenge for You...

So, here's the deal. I am a college student, and as such, am living off a meal plan of 10 meals a week...I eat breakfast in my room (usually a granola bar and some Dannon Activia), but having only 10 meals for 7 days...I would need 14 meals...which I know I wouldn't use. I would love to have a 12 meal plan, but of course, they don't have one. So, I have to eat a meal in my room at least 3-4 days a week. So, I eat lunch in my room. And...of course...I am already pretty sick and tired of the junk I've been eating. Anything that can go in a microwave works for me. Also, I am limited because the best grocery store in the area is a super Wal-Mart (where they actually have a decent selection of cheese...I am currently munching on a smoked gouda:) ) challenge to you CH's is this.

-I need lunch recipes
-It needs to be cooked in the microwave
-Or not use a microwave at all
-It uses few refrigerated ingredients (not much fridge space)
-I would like it to be unique:) (If possible...)

The Super Wal-Mart actually has a lot...from breads, to cheeses, to a large Hispanic and Asian foods section (I was astonished when I first started shopping there), and the quality is the same as I would find at my supermarket near home.

So...can you help me out?


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  1. Is a hot plate possible? Or a convection toaster oven? There are single burner induction devices on eBay for $60, and a cast iron pan is $20, and a toaster oven $50,,,, If I had those I'd sell off the microwave.

    1. I'm assuming your room regulations prohibit you from having any appliance like a hot plate or toaster oven? That was the case when I was an RA...

      So...does SuperWalmart carry produce? Or is there a farmer's market around? And have you checked out these other grocery stores in the area? We have a tiny market nearby that - despite seeming like a hole in the wall - actually sells excellent pre-made salads (pasta and veggie based), as well as side dishes that can be heated up in the microwave. Something like that would be great for lunches.

      Otherwise, I'd probably focus on produce and my microwave. Cut up some butternut squash, toss it with a little salt and nuke it for a few minutes til tender. Then toss it with some apple and feta maybe?

      Or buy some rice noodles, soak them in boiling water, and toss them with some of that bagged "rainbow slaw" mix and a bottled dressing (hoisin sauce, even...or go and buy the ingredients to make a good dipping sauce, and keep those in your mini-fridge).

      You could also do a cool "layer dip" type thing if you bought canned black beans, good salsa (Herdez perhaps), and some cheese, layered them, nuked them, and the dish spread on tortillas or with tortilla chips.

      And my final suggestion would be to find some frozen things that can be doctored up. For example, Kashi makes some reasonably decent frozen meals. You could take their Black Bean Mango thing, add some sliced avocado, salsa, and some cheese, wrap it in a tortilla and eat it like a burrito.

      Probably investing in some olive oil, kosher salt, and a few spices will really help things. Good luck!

      1. when I lived in the dorms, I had a similar meal plan. I bought one of those electric kettles (the whole lid lifts off). you should be able to find on a wal-mart for under $20. o.k. so this probably goes against the manufacturers instructions and possibly fire code, but I made all kinds of semi-home made stuff in those things. my roomate had one too.. so we'd heat up spaghetti sauce in hers (jar sauce or pomi, w/ added veg) and cook the noodles in mine. we'd often "cook" in the bathroom so we had access to water and could drain off the hot water, etc. I also made a lot of my own soup.. grab some rice noodles, some "better than bullion" some veg (frozen bags of mixed works for this) and threw in some spices to make our own "top ramen". soup works well, as long as it is quick cooking... those things are meant to boil water.. not gently simmer things all day... I also used mine to make mac & cheese (from scratch... which really doesn't take that much ingredients).

        another purchase you might consider is an electric skillet (deep sided w/ a domed lid).. you can cook an entire chicken in those things, you can make sauces for pasta, all kinds of things... they are great for breakfast too (bacon, eggs, fried potatoes)... and use it kind of like a dutch oven. I've used on of those to make all kinds of longer-cooking items.. and since they are non-stick they are a breeze to clean... I have heard you can use them to bake things in them, like biscuits and quick breads.. but have not tried that myself.

        good luck!

        1. The processed stuff is so high in sodium, you really have to read labels. Try to eat salads and veggies until it gets cold. A handful of lettuce, a sliced pear or apple, some crumbled blue or goat cheese, a little dressing, sprinkle on some pumpkin or sunflower seeds. If you get the romaine hearts, you have less storage problem, and you can use the leaves as a wrap or scooper.

          When the weather turns chilly, the only prepared soup I would recommend is Imagine. Here's a link so you can check out ingredients and sodium. I've only use their broths, but a friend says the broccoli is very good, and I see they have a new Cuban black bean.

          The Uncle Ben's 90-second brown rice micro packs are high in sodium, but if you get a bag of baby carrots, a bag of celery sticks, do a minimum of chopping, toss, you'd have a relatively healthy warm rice salad.

          There's always canned tuna or the pouches of salmon. Mayo for cold lettuce wraps, or make a faux tuna melt and spread it on bread or crackers.

          Canned beans, drained and rinsed, will keep in the fridge for several days. You can sprinkle chick peas or black beans on a salad, throw a handful into soup.

          PB&J or PB and banana sandwiches. A plateful of sliced apples, pears and/or grapes and PB to dip in.

          Do you like V8? There's a spicy version and also a new fruity one out. Helps with your veggie RDA.

          Otherwise, I hope you take advantage of the meal plan and maximize your protein there.

          1. Yeah, what Jay says...! If you can swing for a hot plate, it opens up vast vistas! Doesn't HAVE to be an induction burner, but they are optimum. There are also really nice single burner gas (butane) "stoves" available at most restaurant supply stores that are a lot more responsive than the standard electric hot plate.

            Anyway, without any additional equipment,

            THINGS TO DO WITH TOMATOES: Do NOT refrigerate them! Just keep a few in a bowl. Stuff them with a salad made with canned tuna or canned white meat chicken, or even just plain cottage cheese.

            Some say I'm weird, but I really like chunky peanut butter, tomato and mayo sandwiches. And of course, there are about 23 gazillion other things you can do with bread, tomatoes and mayo...

            You can chop fresh tomatoes into a bowl, add some herbs such as a tiny touch of fresh basil (if you like it), fresh or dried oregano, maybe a little thyme, chopped fresh parsley, some grated Italian cheese such as pecarino or Romano, some extra virgin olive oil, either fresh finely chopped garlic or garlic powder. Mix it up well and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two (even while you go to a class, but refrigerate if you're going to be gone all day) then boil some pasta in the microwave, any kind of pasta, from rigatoni to angel hair, then toss the cold raw tomato sauce with the really hot well drained pasta, let it sit while you toss a salad from a few lettuce leaves, and you have a feast!

            Get a hot plate, a 6" saute pan and a small wok and you've got the world at your feet! Egg dishes that range from soft boiled to omlettes to crepe and a whole world of "egg classics." With the small wok and a gas or induction burner you have an amazing world of quick to cook (not always quick to prep) Asian delights at your fingertips.

            Add a small oven or trade in your microwave for a microwave/convection model, and hey, you're ready for class at Cordon Bleu and who needs the ten meals a week plan! Good luck!