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Jun 9, 2010 10:45 AM

Cooking in a dorm

I am going to a summer Spanish immersion program this summer. I'm a teacher and I live there for 5 weeks. Usually I take 2 meals a day in the dining hall but the options are very unhealthy and even though I ate salad for the last two years, I've decided to go down to one meal a day (I have to do one because it is expected as part of the program that you eat at the Spanish table). The driving force behind this is that I am trying to lose weight and this program always puts a damper on it. I am looking for ideas of things I can eat for dinner in my dorm room. I will have a micro fridge (fridge/microwave combo) and I think it might have a freezer, although I forget.

So far I plan to have cereal with milk every morning. I figure I can cook something each weekend and pack up individual dinners for Mon-Thu nights. I need something could warm in the microwave (cold is fine too), that will stay good from Sunday when I cook it until Thursday when I eat it last. I would like to make one thing each week (5 weeks total) because I figure after 4 nights I'll be sick of it for a while. Keep in mind health is one of the priorities (also I don't eat hardboiled eggs). I would like to avoid soup because I tend to get sick of it really fast unless it's really good. Any suggestions are welcome and thanks in advance.

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  1. Chicken breasts are always a great option. You can do so much with them: chicken salad, tacos, ceasar salad, add to ramen soup one night, toss with pesto & pasta, add to microwave steamed veggies. You can do the same with a pork tenderloin. Ever think of purchasing a small rice cooker to add to your dorm cooking arsenal?

    6 Replies
    1. re: PattiCakes

      Since it's 5 weeks every summer for only a couple more years and there is no counter or anywhere to put it. (Bathroom?) I hadn't really thought about it. I don't mind leftover rice though. Hmmm

      1. re: melpy

        I've recently gotten a nice rice cooker and I've found leftover rice to be a great healthy breakfast as I'm also trying to lose weight. Some leftover brown rice, vanilla soymilk, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds or whatever healthy stuff I feel like that day, with a bit of honey/rice syrup/jam makes a breakfast that keeps me feeling full for hours.

        1. re: Chris VR

          As a kid, my mom made us rice topped with a pat of butter, some brown sugar and some warm milk. It was always a great breakfast. If you don't have the rice cooker, you can always make up a batch of rice so you could use it for breakfast, or a "go with" for anything else. So was milk toast. Toast with butter, cut into squares. Place in a bowl with a little sugar and top with warm milk - that is if you have a toaster. ;-)

          1. re: Chris VR

            That sounds delicious. Interesting concept. I've never thought of rice for breakfast.

            1. re: melpy

              Sure makes a change from cold cereal every day. Heck - my DH also got a little tray to do eggs in the micro, a small pk. of canadian bacon and keeps english muffins around and makes his own "McMuffins" for his way out the door. Easy stuff for quick meals. I saw the same variation on the today show made with poached egg whites, cheese on whole wheat muffins for the healthier version. (Put 2 egg whites in a glass measuring cup, whip, put cup in micro for 45 sec., top with non-fat cheese and put on the muffin. Looked very tasty.

              1. re: melpy

                I forgot to mention that I heat the rice up first. I got turned onto this idea at Kripalu Yoga Center, which has a very good cafeteria. It's a great way to feel virtuous both by using up leftovers (always a plus with limited fridge space) and having something with lots of fiber and wholesome goodness.

        2. PattiCakes had a good idea. Another good option is to do a London Broil. You can slice it thin and use it in salads, fajitas, soup, french dip, regular sandwiches, with some steamed veggies, etc. You can also julienne some fresh veggies to steam and put into your fajitas and then eat the rest with some dip.

          1. Melpy: are you at home during the weekends so that you can do your "big cook" , or are you in the dorm (with limited cooking resources) the entire time? Also, are there things that you can get from the dining hall -- maybe from the salad bar -- that you can use to help create healthy choices that are fixable in your room? I'm thinking of maybe the cut up raw veggies that you could steam in your microwave and then toss with soaked rice noodles, a pre-prepared sauce & some cut up protein to do a pad thai or seseame noodles. You're probably better off if you can have a set of semi-cooked/pre-prepared items that you can mix and match to make different dinners each night rather than having something like lasagna for 5 night straight.

            Are you the only teacher? Any possiblity of teaming up with someone else, or is that not worth the trouble?

            ¬°Buena suerte!

            2 Replies
            1. re: PattiCakes

              Yes, I am home to do a "big cook" on the weekends with all my supplies and equipment. I am not allowed to take things from the dining hall because it is "all you can eat". All of us who go to this program are teachers but it's a big hassle to team up because most people eat in the dining hall. Basically I want to avoid doing 5 nights of grilled chicken and salad (since I'm having trouble being creative with the whole idea of cooking over the weekend) and was looking for ideas. So far these are great ideas because I was having trouble thinking outside the box. If possible keep them coming! If this is successful I'll do it the next few years and if I have a list of ideas and I just go to them each year and not worry about them.

              1. re: melpy

                I hear 'ya!

                Another great micro dinner item is the flour tortilla. If you follow the concept of bringing smaller containers of ingredients with you, you can make a fajita wrap (sliced pre-cooked meat, pre-roasted veggies & some cheese), quesadillas, or even "pizza", using jarred sauce, mozzarella & those same veggies. Emme's ideas are great too, as is the rice thing. I've found that I can make a batch of rice -- or pasta for that matter -- & keep it in a plastic zip lock for 5 days in the fridge. Takes up less space than a hard plastic container. Very easy to heat up a portion for dinner. Also get yourself some kind of portable crate/box that you can use for your "kit" -- plastic bowl, plate, cup, litle cutting board, knife, assorted spices/peanut butter yada yada. Pack it up at the end of the week, put it in your car & leave it there until you go back the next week.

                My sis like to make "sun tea" by putting a jar on the window sill with lots of tea bags., When strong enough, she puts that one in the fridge & starts a second one "brewing". Iced tea for the whole day! Oh, and make sure you take some fruit for yourself as well.

            2. i'd roast a ton of veggies to eat over the week.

              cook a pot of beans and/or other grains like quinoa, coucous, etc. to use in salads.

              roast a chicken - use for tacos, salads, pasta, etc etc.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Emme

                You guys are great. I don't know why I was having such a mental block. I'm part of a CSA and I just made sure that my share co-owner would save me some goodies that I can pick up on Friday so I'll be able to have produce as part of meal (since vegetables are usually what's lacking the most, apart from not so happy looking salad bar). Now I have to go off in search of containers.

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