College students can, should learn to be DIY chefs

Caroline Betik

It is no secret that college students love convenience. After a long day (or couple of days) of hard work, students may not have the energy to leave their dorm room and schlep all the way to a dining hall for a meal which can be made in the comfort of the dorm.

Since the 1970s, the month of March has been recognized as National Nutrition Month, which aims to educate and promote  the benefits of good nutrition and maintaining a proper diet. UT is participating in National Nutrition Month by  hosting events called Cook Wise classes, which teach students how to cook nutritious meals in dorms.

While many kitchen aids are not allowed in dorm rooms, a micro-fridge is all that is needed to make delicious and nutritious meals right in the comfort of a dorm room. Sotear Kuy, a registered dietitian at UT, said while many students shy away from making meals in the microwave, it is actually really simple and cost efficient.

“I think a lot of the items taste just as great in the microwave when compared to being prepared in the kitchen,” Kuy said. “The recipes taught in the first class were recipes I developed myself, but it’s easy to find many online.”

Emily Arce, international nutrition freshman, said she found a few recipes online to prepare meals in her dorm room which helps her get the proper nutrients while saving a lot of money.

“I make spaghetti squash in the microwave,” Arce said. “A whole spaghetti squash is four to five servings. One meal here, with the same amount of vegetables costs more than one spaghetti squash.”

Arce said that while it was a mess to prepare, in her opinion, anything is better than eating at the dining halls and you have to make the best with what you have.

“Usually what I do is heat up the squash for about three minutes to make it easy to cut using the jank-ass Jester silverware,” Arce said. “Then I cut it right down the middle, scoop out the seeds and scrape it with a fork to make it come out like spaghetti and season it with whatever. I also use toppings from the salad bar downstairs to add more flavor.”

Kuy said you can cook just about anything in the microwaves provided in the dorms, from breakfast pastries to delicious, full plate dinners.

“One thing many students may not think to cook in the microwave is raw meat,” Kuy said. “All you need is a cutting board, a thermometer, a bowl, a plate and seasoning. Using a bone out, one serving piece of chicken, this process normally only takes about ten minutes depending on the strength of the microwave available.”

Cooking meals in the dorm room is not restricted to microwave meals. Kuy said there are many recipes available online which can be made without a microwave. Arce said one of her favorite things to make in her dorm room is oatmeal.

“I eat oatmeal every day for breakfast because it keeps me full for a really long time, and there are many different variations,” Arce said. “Peanut butter jelly oats, chocolate banana oats, strawberry maple oats — I never get tired of oatmeal!”

For students looking for more recommendations, Kuy and Arce suggested Pinterest and Google which are some of the best resources to help students discover new recipes to cook meals in the dorm room. Using these DIY recipes can be a great substitute for meals, especially this time of year when students are tired of the same old dining hall food or have simply run out of dine-in-dollars.