While we should all be thankful for the food available to us, there are times when the Great Hall options become especially dismal. For example, when there is “breakfast pizza” on Sundays (or even better, when said pizza stays out for an hour and the cheese becomes congealed), or when they serve tater tots for 13 days in a row. When I lived on campus, I practically kept an entire stocked kitchen under my bed complete with cutting boards, crockpot, and a cake stand. Consider this your survival guide for what to keep on hand to endure four years of Chartwells.
1. Eggs: these are a college student’s best friend. Easy to cook, versatile, high in protein, and cheap. Get a dozen for $2 and keep them in your mini fridge and then scramble, fry, and poach them. If you feel like getting fancy, you can always sneak some wilted vegetables from the Great Hall and sauté them up for an omelet or frittata. What’s more, they are good to have readily available for boxed brownie mix or late night procrasta-baking—oh wait, am I the only one who does that?
2. Flour: whether it is for homemade cookies, biscuits on Saturday mornings, or pranking other halls, this is a necessary ingredient to keep on hand. Beyond its obvious uses, flour is great for thickening up canned soups or mixing up a quick creamy sauce to go on top of pasta. I always had self-rising flour in my kitchen for my 3-ingredient biscuits that are fantastic with gravy, honey, or some raspberry jam.
3. Dark Chocolate Chips: there are always at least five forms of chocolate in my room at all times and chocolate chips are definitely a staple. I add them to boxed pancake mix, microwavable mug cakes, muffins, and, let’s be honest, just eat them straight after a stressful day. You can also add a little bit of coconut oil to a bowl of chocolate chips, melt them down in the microwave, and stir to create a velvety chocolate sauce to go atop French toast, ice cream, and any kind of fruit. I dip strawberries into this rich chocolate coating and pop them into the fridge for a few minutes for an easy, inexpensive dessert that impresses everyone.
4. Sausage: this might seem a bit random, but it’s the meat that I always have on hand. While it is great to form into patties for breakfast in the mornings, it has many other creative uses as well and a little bit can go a long way. My favorite quick breakfast in the morning is a piece of toast with sausage, sautéed kale, and a poached egg on top. It is also great to cook down and fold into any pasta dish for immediate flavor.
5. Kale: okay, I’m judging myself for putting this on the list, but it is one of the best things you can have in your fridge. You can eat it as a side dish cooked a plethora of ways for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Roast kale in the oven at 375 degrees for a few minutes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice and you have got a crunchy, citrusy snack. Add it to any canned soup for immediate freshness, color, and nutrients. Massage that kale with a little olive oil or dressing and then top it with some pan-seared chicken for a quick dinner one night. It is high in iron, easy to prepare, and inexpensive, so make your mom happy and buy some vegetables.
One of the saddest things about going to college for me was going to the cafeteria. Not because I was picky about the taste, but because I missed the fun of cooking and the community established by making food for other people. Over time, I figured out how to do so while in college. I made many birthday cakes for girls on my hall, as well as delicious dinners. Follow these tips to make eating in college more creative, enjoyable, and flavorful—and to avoid the breakfast pizza.