Custom Search

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Frugal College Cooking: Pantry in the Dorm

i just noticed that some of my traffic is due to the search "college cooking" or "dorm cooking." Better get on with this. My sense of urgency comes from not only Lucy M's needs next year, but also a glance at what else comes up with the search. Martha Stewart recommending that you buy a set of her cookware at Kmart for your dorm. Or recipes like ramen stroganoff (ramen, cream of mushroom soup, hamburger) or Tex-Mex macaroni (box macaroni and cheese, salsa, hamburger). That's not how I want my girl to eat.

Before I start providing recipes, I will fill--both virtually and in reality--a pantry. It is a truth universally acknowledged that cooking from a well-stocked pantry is a time, money, and stress saver.

Remember, the college student doesn't need to cook everything in the dorm. A penchant for sushi can be satisfied at a restaurant, as can the urge for eggplant parmesan. I still remember cooking the latter for a bunch of people in a dorm kitchen and watching as they all left with thanks, on to a party, leaving me, the world's worst housekeeper, with a room full of dirty dishes and pans, including egg soaked breadcrumbs, tons of grease, and you know the rest.

boxed soymilk
boxed milk
evaporated milk
hot chocolate mix*
powdered milk**
instant coffee (Nescafe Clasico is the only acceptable brand. I am not kidding.)

*It's as cheap in the envelopes as in bulk cans. Frugal Son gives me grief about excess packaging, but I say that we will use the envelopes as a way to the greater good.
**I will give Lucy some in a container. This is good for cooking.

peanut butter
I would buy these in the foil packages, which don't need draining. Draining tuna is a pain at any time, but in a dorm it becomes a major production.

instant oatmeal*
Again, a compromise. We prefer steel-cut oat groats! But this is acceptable for convenience. See above on hot cocoa mix for Frugal Son's likely objection and my riposte. There are recipes online for make-your-own instant oatmeal. but I've found that if you keep an eye out for sales, you can get it for between 8 and 10 cents a packet, which is as cheap as the homemade.

beans (black, kidney,whatever you like)*
refried beans**
rotel-type tomatoes***
canned tomatoes, preferably crushed or diced, so you won't have to chop. Also get stewed with onions, to save a step and an ingredient.

*If your scholar doesn't like beans, he or she should learn. It is a good thing economically and environmentally. Not to mention good for you.
**Ugh, hate these, but Lucy likes 'em. You can buy instant refried beans, which are great, but they are ridiculously expensive these days.
***If you have rotel-type tomatoes, you also have salsa for a lot cheaper than salsa. OK, it's chunky salsa. Live with it.

A category unto itself.

See peanut butter. In a plastic container. See below for rodents. The rice is for the rice cooker i mentioned a few posts ago.

All these things can be stored in a bin under the scholar's bed. Note that all are rodent-proof. Since we got a note not to have crackers and such in our offices because mice can chew through the cardboard box, imagine in a dorm!!


Duchesse said...

Really useful post, bet you could write a dorm cooking blog! Rodents- horrors.

Funny about Money said...

Urk! Can you imagine what a concoction of ramen noodles, hamburger, and mushrooms soup would LOOK like? bleyach!

Shelley said...

I'd no idea tuna came in any other than a tin! I've lived away from Convenience for too long! Chopping tinned tomatoes up isn't too difficult with a pair of scissors stuck into the can. I tried using a knife and it worked, but I felt guilty about what it did to the blade, rubbing it against the side of the can... Chunky salsa? Is there any other kind?

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley==Chunky, very chunky, superchunky. The choices in the supermarket are amazing.

astutzm2 said...

Peanut butter really is its own food group in college. I know this from experience!