Imagine the following scenario: you are about to be trapped in your dorm room for a month as zombies overrun your school's campus. You won't be able to access a stove, oven or microwave since you won't be able to get to the kitchen.

Luckily, you have a large water supply, a water boiler, Ziploc bags, a rice cooker, and a small refrigerator (with no freezer). What foods can you buy that will stay good for a month, will fulfill your daily nutrient and calorie requirements, and most importantly, are tasty? Stocking up on instant ramen won't cut it. You can do better and here's how.

Cooking Methods:

Rice Cooker

The name "rice cooker" is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, as the name suggests, this appliance cooks rice perfectly, but it can be used for much more. Most grains, such as quinoa, lentils, and oats can be cooked with a rice cooker. You can even make al dente pasta and eggs in multiple ways.

My favorite rice cooker is made by Zojirushi. It uses "fuzzy logic," which means that it can detect the internal temperature and amount of water, and adjust its power to the heating element to make sure that the rice is cooked perfectly. It also includes a timer to prevent over or under cooking. The rice cooker also has the ability to automatically start its cooking process. I find this feature extremely useful for my oatmeal in the morning.

Lastly, it also includes a keep-warm-after-cooking function. The rice cooker is the perfect cooking appliance to keep in your dorm room; it's versatile, easy to use, and doesn't take up too much space.

Electric Water Boiler

A water boiler seems only useful for making tea, but you can actually place raw food in a Ziploc bag, submerge the bag in the hot water and monitor the temperature, which will allow you to cook food sous vide. Usually, you use a vacuum to take the air out of the bag, but this isn't necessary when using this specific method.

Though you can't buy any raw meat because it will spoil well before the end of a month, this technique can also be used for cooking eggs and vegetables in your dorm room.

Ingredients List:


wheat, cereal, porridge, buckwheat, corn, millet, groats, quinoa, couscous
Christin Urso

- Rice

- Lentils

- Oats

- Quinoa

- Pasa


milk, yogurt, cream, dairy, sweet, dairy product, milkshake
Aakanksha Joshi

- Hard cheese e.g. parmesan: it lasts longer than other                    cheeses.

- Butter: it stays fresh one month past printed date.

- UHT pasteurized milk: no refrigerator necessary, it's usable for about six months (nut and soy milk are great choices.

- Eggs: these stay good for 3-4 weeks past expiration. You can hard boil or scramble them in the rice cooker or poach them using the hot water from the water boiler.

- Greek yogurt: it remains safe to eat 1-2 weeks past the expiration date which is usually 3-4 weeks past the date purchase.


garlic, vegetable, condiment, relish, elephant garlic, pasture, onion
Kristine Mahan

- Carrots

- Garlic

- Onions

- Potatoes (all kinds)

- Canned tomatoes, chickpeas, beans and corn

- Homemade pickled carrots and red onions

- Kimchi 

Pickled carrots, red onions, and kimchi can be made using a rice cooker and cans.


lemon, juice, citrus, lime
Sarah Silbiger

- Lemons/limes/oranges: they last for about 1-2 months

- Dried fruits: raisins, craisins, apricots, dates, figs, plums and mangoes

Protein Sources

dairy product, vegetable, tofu
Jocelyn Hsu

- Protein powder

- Canned fish: it can be used to make complex meals.

- Tofu: it expires 3-7 weeks from purchase date

- Salami, pepperoni, beef jerky

- Nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and pistachios)

- Flax and sunflower seeds

- Spam: use it to make budae jjigae (a Korean stew). 

"Army Base Stew" known as budae jjigae in Korea, was popularized after the Korean War, when the U.S. bases left in Korea sold American products, such as spam.


truffle, salt, water
Jocelyn Hsu

- Salt and pepper

- Sriracha, gochujang and soy sauce

- Furikake/seaweed

- Olive oil


Various spices (cinnamon is a good call)

Meals Tips

- Jess Stoddard describes five different recipes for soups you can easily cook in your rice cooker.

- You can cook all grains in the rice cooker (the fuzzy logic and timers make it easy and convenient) to accompany the other parts of the meals.

- You can cook mac and cheese by cooking pasta first in the rice cooker and then adding parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

- To make hummus, mix some canned chickpeas, sesame paste, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon juice to taste (add some zest from the lemons to add a nice kick).

- You can cook a variety of egg dishes: hard boil in the rice cooker, poach (using a bowl and boiled water), sous vide (using a Ziploc bag and boiled water), scrambled (use butter or oil in rice cooker). To make sous vide omelettes more interesting, add canned fish, tomatoes, onions, sharp cheese and butter (with salt and pepper to taste).

toast, bread, butter, dairy product, cream
Kirby Barth

- Making a breakfast burrito is surprisingly easy. Make spanish rice in the rice cooker by adding water, EVOO, rice, tomatoes, onions, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. Then you can add eggs and canned black beans by heating them up in the rice cooker or sous vide.

- You can even bake a cake using a rice cooker!

If you ever find yourself in a real life Walking Dead reality while you're stranded in your dorm room, keep these long-lasting ingredients in mind and the versatility of dorm-friendly rice cookers and water boilers.