Starting college is hard and it's even harder if you're used to your parents making home-cooked meals for you. The adjustment to a meal plan can either be the first time you've experienced the freedom to eat what you want (hello freshman 15) or it can become nauseatingly familiar after the first couple of weeks.
Regardless of where you stand with the dining hall and meal plans, it's important to be able to make food on your own for the times when you can't (or shouldn't) be eating pizza for the third time that day. Here are 21 foods that are delicious and easy to make, even if your dorm space is extremely limited.
Grab a crock pot, toss everything into it, and let it sit all day. Perfect for bringing to a Super Bowl party or for warming up on cold winter days. Check out some recipes here.
2. Mac and Cheese
While it's best on the stove, it can also be made in the microwave. Pop it in a microwave-safe bowl with just enough water to cover the pasta and stir with a fork every 2 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Then don't drain the water and add milk, butter, and the cheese packet. For even tastier mac and cheese, add fresh ingredients. My favorite is ham, peas, and breadcrumbs.
Bonus points if you offer your roommate some of it. They may forgive you for leaving your clothes all over the floor and, let's be real, boxes of mac and cheese are big enough for two.
3. Grilled cheese
The number 1 reason I chose to get a waffle iron freshman year was to make grilled cheese. Add whatever ingredients you want but make sure to spray the waffle iron well so that your sandwich doesn't stick to it.
Bonus points: get the microwavable tomato soup to dip your sandwich in.
Once you have a waffle iron, it's also worth making waffles once in a while. Eat them with chicken tenders from the dining hall for quick chicken and waffles or add any other ingredients for a fun spin off the traditional breakfast. If all else fails, buy butter and syrup and eat them the old-fashioned way.
5. Cinnamon rolls
While we're on the topic of waffle irons, grab some cinnamon rolls from the roll and pop them in the waffle iron to warm them up before drizzling frosting on them.
(You can also make cookies by popping cookie dough on the iron and waiting for it to cook a bit)
Check out this Buzzfeed link for 2 more waffle recipes. I'm done with the waffle iron now I swear.
Got to get your veggies in somehow, don't you? Snag some kale from the salad bar in the dining hall and mix it with berries, yogurt, and orange juice for an on-the-go Vitamin C boost.
I got this personal-size blender with a bottle I can take with me from Amazon and I love it.
7. Overnight oats
Instant oats, milk, yogurt, fruit, and anything else you want to add, these overnight oats are so easy to make and grab on your way out in the morning.
8. Breakfast sandwiches
This summer I made four of these at once and then stuck them in the freezer and pulled them out on days when I was running out to go to class. They're even easy to make if you don't have access to a stove because you can cook the eggs in the microwave. Recipe here!
9. Energy balls
For on-the-go breakfast or a quick afternoon snack, these energy balls are perfect and easy to make. Plus there's no oven required.
Learn how to make these 7 using this link.
10. Crock pot lasagna
For those days when dining hall spaghetti just won't cut it. Recipe here.
11. Deconstructed tacos
Add whatever you want to the basic recipe and take it with you wherever you go.
12. Stuffed avocados
Many stuffed avocado recipes require baking but here's one that doesn't if you don't have access to an oven. An avocado is a delicious source of protein that can also serve as a boat for carrying a variety of ingredients.
13. Pizza bagels
Who needs an oven when you have a microwave? Check out this and other microwave meals at HerCampus
14. Chicken pot pie
For more meals in mugs (including the cheeseburger in the cover photo), check out this Refinery29 article.
15. Chicken fried rice
Grab a frozen packet of fried rice from the grocery store, heat it up in the microwave, and add shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken or from the dining hall. You can also substitute shrimp, beef, or keep it vegetarian. Quick, easy Chinese food.
(Also, frozen dumplings can be heated in the microwave to complete the meal.)
Add a protein and some vegetables for a yummy meal that's nowhere near as greasy as the dining hall version
17. French toast
Add an egg or some meat for an extra protein boost. Instructions here.
18. Butternut squash risotto
A meal your mother would be proud of you for making. Check out this and more dorm meals over on Buzzfeed.
19. Better ramen
Please don't eat cup of noodles and just make this for yourself instead. Full recipe here.
20. Microwave enchiladas
Make everyone on your floor jealous with this recipe. Plus they're gluten free!
Plus if all else fails, you can always just toss a bunch of ingredients on a salad. Here are 15 different options for chopped salads that are easy to make!