Living in the dorms can be restricting, especially when you are not allowed to bring your own kitchen appliances or when the closest grocery store isn’t within walking distance. However, this doesn’t mean your cooking has to be limited! There are many ways to use everyday cooking utensils and items that will change up your food as well as time-saving ideas that will save you from unnecessary hassles.

Below are ten tips that will help you cook up a delicious meal or snack in no time! 

1. Use your coffee maker to its fullest potential. 

Thankfully, most universities allow students to have a coffee maker in the dorm rooms and a coffee maker can make almost all your meals. Not only can you make a cup of coffee with your coffee maker, but you can also make rice, boiled eggs, oatmeal, ramen, and other meals that require boiling water. All you will need is some water and a carafe to hold your vegetables, rice, eggs, or ramen. You can also use the bottom plate along with aluminum foil to heat up salmon, steak, or other meat items.

2. Use mayonnaise to grease/replace butter or oil.

No butter or oil, have no fear! Mayonnaise can easily replace butter or oil for both sweet and savory recipes. The oil (most likely soybean, rapeseed, or safflower oil) in the mayonnaise can provide enough grease for frying pans.

3. If you are taking hot sandwiches on the go, make sure not to put the lid on the container too early. 

Don’t you hate it when you are about to eat your sandwich and you realize the bread is soggy? To prevent this misery, make sure to not put the lid on top of your container because as the container cools down the food, the steam builds up on the lid and becomes a water vapor, causing the food to become softer.

Izzy Tice

4. Save your ramen flavoring packet for your eggs, pasta, and other dishes. 

Sometimes, it’s good to add different seasonings for your eggs, pasta, rice, and other meals. Thankfully, ramen flavoring packets are flavorful, cheap, and on-hand for most college students. I recommend using just a small amount of the flavoring packet at a time (around ⅛ tsp.) since you don't have water or broth that needs the extra seasoning

5. Use a straw to remove extra air from a bag or to remove strawberry cores.

Straws are not only useful for drinking purposes! Straws can be a great time-saver in the kitchen by removing extra air from press-seal bags and strawberry cores. Simply grab a press-seal bag with extra air and place a straw into the bag with one side sticking out. Then suck in the air with the straw and the bag will be flat. Also, take a strawberry and stick the straw through the strawberry, starting at the green center. Then twirl the straw and the core will pop out of the fruit. 

6. Save fruit peels to make tea.

These peels, along with some hot water, can make a wonderful tea! All you need to do is place the fruit peels in the pot with some water and let it boil for two minutes. Feel free to add any sweeteners, honey, or other spices to add more flavor to your tea.

7. Or keep orange peels to shoot down the drain to make it smell better.

At some point, you will probably smell an odd smell coming out of your sink’s garbage disposal. Fortunately, citric fruits’ peels have an intense, long-lasting smell that can deodorize any unpleasant smells in just two steps. First, take any citrus fruit peels and place them into the garbage disposal. Finally, turn on your garbage disposal and a cleaner odor should be coming out of your sink. 

8. Make interesting food designs/patterns by using the end of your utensils. 

Although baking in the dorms may be challenging at times, your desserts do not have to lack aesthetically! All you have to do is use common utensils like forks and toothpicks to create fun designs. Some suggested ideas include fork lines, toothpick swirls, and spoon scoops.

9. If you do not have a vegetable peeler, use a spoon as a replacement.

Luckily, a spoon can work just as well as a vegetable peeler if you are lacking one! Simply take a vegetable (or even ginger) and take the side edges of the spoon to peel away the vegetable’s skin. However, this tip works best for sturdy root vegetables (potatoes and carrots) instead of softer vegetables (tomatoes, squash, etc.).

10. Use ramen noodles as a cracker replacement.

Ramen tastes just as good when it’s not cooked as noodles and can possibly save you a trip to the grocery store! First, take out the ramen noodles and fry them on top of the stove. Once the frying process is completed, place the ramen noodles on a plate and put any seasonings or sauces you desire.