6 Ways to Upgrade Your Dorm Cooking

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Student cooking food in residence hall

For decades, college students have been cooking in residence halls. While most students have a meal plan, many prefer the quick solutions of dorm cooking over walking to the campus dining hall. But why lower the quality of your meals? Here are six ways to upgrade your dorm cooking.

Grilled Cheese

Whether at home or in the residence hall, grilled cheese is always a good idea. For this upgrade, combine two college classics into a pizza grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t have a griddle in your room? Try the popular trick of aluminum foil and a clothing iron. Most of the ingredients are available at the Dixon-McKenzie Dining Common, but you’ll need to purchase aluminum foil from the nearest grocery or discount store.


  • 2 slices of bread
  • ¾ cup shredded or 2 slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 10 slices of pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • butter to taste


  1. Prepare the sandwich: Spread butter on the outside of each slice. Flip the slices and spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce on the inside of each slice. On one of the bread slices place one half of the cheese and the pepperoni slices. Top with the rest of the cheese and the second bread slice, butter side up.
  2. Preheat your iron to its highest temperature.
  3. Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil. Crimp the sides of the foil, leaving a clean flat surface on both top and bottom.
  4. Set the covered sandwich on a heat-resistant surface and set the iron on top for two to five minutes. Flip the sandwich and repeat.
  5. Remove the foil carefully and bite into the tastiest sandwich you’ll ever eat.

If you want to upgrade your dorm cooking even further, add some red pepper flakes to the mix or pour some pizza sauce into a bowl for dipping.

Mac & Cheese

Buying instant macaroni is tempting, but don’t settle for simplicity. A single serving of microwave mac & cheese is easy and flavorful. Most ingredients, except for the pasta, can be found in the dining common.


  • ½ cup of elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ or ¼ cup shredded cheese


  1. Pour the macaroni, water and salt in a deep mug or microwave safe bowl. Mix.
  2. Cook for two to five minutes. Make sure to check the noodles throughout so they don’t overcook.
  3. Once the macaroni is ready, add the milk and stir in the cheese. Cook it from 30 seconds to a minute and enjoy.

To boost the dish, add some bacon bits, garlic powder, chives or even red pepper flakes.

Ramen Noodles

Top Ramen and Cup Noodles are most college students’ cooking go-to. No one wants to trade in a classic. Instead, level it up with a few ingredients, most of which you can find around campus. Preparation will vary depending on whether you have a hotpot or a kettle.



dining common 

vending machine (optional) 

  • 1 pack chicken flavor instant ramen or Korean instant ramen 
  • spinach 
  • beef jerky 
  • 1 egg 
  • mushrooms 
  • shredded carrots 
  • beef or chicken 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 

Hotpot Preparation

Bring 2½ cups of water to a boil in the hotpot. Add the ramen seasoning and soy sauce.

  1. Add the noodles to the broth and cook for 3 minutes. If you use jerky, cut it into smaller pieces and boil it with the noodles.
  2. After 3 minutes, stir to separate the noodles, turn off the heat and add the spinach.
  3. On the side, soft-boil the egg. This can be done in the microwave: in a microwave-safe container, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Poke a hole on the top and bottom of the egg with a safety pin and place in the container. Microwave the egg for 45–50 seconds.
  4. Once the egg has cooled down, peel it and slice it in half. Set aside for plating.
  5. Pour the ramen into a bowl or deep mug. Garnish with the vegetables, sliced meat and egg and enjoy!

Kettle Preparation

  1. Prepare the bowl with the flavoring powder, soy sauce, spinach and jerky (optional). Place the uncooked noodles on top.
  2. Boil 2 ½ cups of water in the kettle and pour over the bowl. Cover it with a plate and let it rest for five minutes.
  3. Follow steps 4–6 from the hotpot preparation.

Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is quick and convenient. You can have it on a sandwich, a wrap, with vegetables and even with pasta. While canned tuna salad is OK, making your own is easy. Most of the ingredients can be found in the dining common.


  • 1 pull-tab can of tuna packed in water
  • half a lemon
  • red onion to taste
  • celery to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 packet of mayonnaise


  1. Mince both celery and onions and set aside.
  2. Drain the tuna and combine it with the rest of the ingredients.

Now you can accompany your green salad or enjoy a tuna melt in the comfort of your dorm.

Overnight Oats

Few students are morning people. It might be hard to drag yourself out of bed to get breakfast at the dining common before 8 a.m. But what if your breakfast was ready by the time you woke up? Overnight oats are great for a student on the go.


  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk of your choice
  • ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)


  1. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Cover, refrigerate and let rest overnight.
  2. Top with fruits, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, sliced almonds, or other toppings of choice.

These oats are super filling, healthy, and can be vegan depending on your milk and yogurt choice.

See also: Around Greenville: Local Breakfast Nooks

Instant Oatmeal

Did you forget to prepare your oats the night before? No problem; instant oatmeal is here to save the day. While many companies offer flavored options, here’s a simple level up to your instant oatmeal game.


  • 1 packet instant oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1 piece of semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate syrup to taste
  • dried cranberries
  • sliced almonds


  1. Mix the oatmeal and milk in a microwave-safe bowl or deep mug. Cook for the time recommended on the packet.
  2. Once the oatmeal is ready add the chocolate and stir.
  3. Wait for it to cool and add in the cranberries and almonds.

The cranberries can be swapped for anything, or you can add other fruits—like bananas—that complement them as well. Enjoy the chocolaty goodness and don’t be late to class.



Abril Brito Mones is a content marketing intern for BJUtoday.