Feed Yourself Without Putting on Pants (Dorm Food)

The ramen in the stone / Jordan Sitkin / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Anyone who’s grown up with American pop culture knows the cliche: college students feed themselves on cup ramen and coffee, slowly developing scurvy and arteriosclerosis. However, bad-for-you food has come a long way since the days that sitcom comedy writers were in school, and the market for easy-to-make food has improved. With that in mind, I present four cheap, easy options for feeding yourself without leaving your dorm room, because dining is best when you don’t have to put on pants:

  1. Instant Oatmeal: Cheap packets of instant oatmeal can be prepared with nothing more than hot water from an electric kettle. They’re nutritious (by instant food standards), low-calorie, and sweet–they make for the perfect in-dorm breakfast during the winter. A six-pack of the generic brand will run you about $3 and will keep you fed for a week.
  2. Annie’s Instant Mac and Cheese: I’m giving a shout out to Annie’s brand pasta (the one with the bunny on it) because it happens to be organic and, unlike the blue box competitors, the ingredients list has four things on it. The company sells boxes of five individually packaged meals, and they can again be prepared with just an electric kettle to heat water for the noodles. Though it’s probably chock full enough of sodium to kill a small horse, instant mac and cheese allows for vegetarians (and those who don’t want their noodles deep-friend) to join in on the dietary fun in a way ramen does not.
  3. Powdered Cookie/Cake Mix: It sounds disgusting, but when you want dessert I recommend this strange, cheap option: mix some powdered cookie or cake mix in with some soy milk (it keeps longer than cow milk) and chow down. It’s probably pretty gross when you think about the fact that you’re basically eating sugar porridge, but it’s good like you wouldn’t believe, only sets you back about $2, and lasts pretty much until you eat all of it.
  4. Almonds: Any sort of nuts will do, but these have the advantage of not being composed entirely of chemicals and of being pretty good for you. Though they’re high-fat, if you’re looking for a cheap meal substitute or snack, nuts are the way to go. They keep forever and are decently cheap in bulk, and they’ll fill you up while contributing in some way to your overall health.

Ramen doesn’t have to be the only options for broke, hungry college kids. These options will keep you reasonably fed, keep you out of the poor house, and allow for a little more variation than choosing–for the sixth time that week–between “Oriental” and beef flavored noodles. Huzzah!

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