The Orion

Taking dorm food from boring to brilliant

Grace Kerfoot

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Hallmarked for its comfort food vibes and outrageous simplicity, dorm food has a way of ceasing our hunger and nourishing our soul.

True, the classics are good standbys for when real food is scarce, but bumping the humble bowl of ramen up a notch can be just the thing when you’re looking to treat yourself. Whether you’ve just moved into your snug dorm room or you’ve long been liberated from that cozy shoebox, it’s never too late to elevate the classics.

Try these upgrades to take your dorm food staples from boring to brilliant and cultivate your inner culinary excellence.

Mac-n-cheese: Whether you are an Easy Mac die-hard or more of a heat-it-on-the-stove sort of person, there is a special place in every college student’s heart for that slippery elbow pasta coated in bright orange cheese. While this meal does a good job of hitting the spot on its own, it can also marry well with a few add-ins. Try adding canned tuna or chickpeas, sriracha, fresh crumbles of crisp bacon or hunks of other types of cheese. Veggies are equally appropriate, so add as many shameless handfuls of frozen peas – they taste thumbs up in a bowl of mac – or spinach as you’d like.

Ramen – If you’re still making ramen with just noodles and broth, it’s time for an upgrade. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, fry an egg and slide it into your soup for some serious yolk action. You can even add some frozen veggies for a boost of color, or splash your bowl with a squeeze of lime. Don’t forget that noodles are noodles and not just for ramen.

Instant Oatmeal – Despite promising flavors like apple cinnamon or vanilla and cream, instant oatmeal can be very anti-climactic. Fortunately, there is an easy way to upgrade your instants. If you haven’t already started putting almond or peanut butter in your oatmeal, that’s a good place to start. Not only is it stick-to-your-mouth good, but it also makes for a more sustaining meal. Pouring in trail mix, especially the kind with M&M’s, is also deeply rewarding. If you happen to get burnt out on porridge, try baking with those leftover packets.

PB&J – Customizing your peanut butter and jelly sandwich can mean more than simply getting the ratio of spreads right. Tuck potato chips, pretzels (or peanut butter-filled pretzels because that’s allowed), granola or any other breakfast cereal into the heart of your sandwich. To avoid any soggy disappointments, don’t add said crunchy things to your sando until you are ready to dig in.

As we dive into the school year and explore new horizons of independence, don’t be intimidated to choose your own culinary adventure and add flavorful pizzazz to whatever you cook up. It has a very good chance of being delicious.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.

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Taking dorm food from boring to brilliant