Mastering the art of dorm room cooking

Devin Bosley

One of the most exciting aspects of the college experience is finding new independence and taking those initial steps into the world of adulthood. But, by living on your own, you also take on a whole new slew of responsibilities, one of which is procuring your own meals. Sadly, real cooking is a lot harder than one would think after all the virtual training sessions of “Cooking Mama” and “Papa’s Pizzeria” that we experienced in our youth. Even if you are blessed with masterchef-esque cooking skills, most incoming college freshmen have to hone their skills to work exclusively under the restricting capabilities of a microwave and a mini-fridge. 

However, with such limitations comes great creativity, and the truth of the famous “Ratatouille” philosophy, “anyone can cook,” is more apparent than ever in a dorm room. So for you soon-to-be beginner college cooks, here are some recipes that will hopefully ease the stress of your transition from struggling to boil water to personal chef, as well as the strain on your wallet from all the takeout.


Overnight Oats

My first attempt at overnight oats was more or less a success; it’s super easy to make, and I garnished it with some of my favorite berries.

The great part about this recipe is that it is extremely customizable. This recipe is pretty much a base that you can eat on its own, or you can add mix-ins including, but not limited to, fruit, greek yogurt, peanut butter and cinnamon. I also found this just as tasty and even easier to make than regular oatmeal, as all you have to do is mix the ingredients and let it rest. 

1. Start with one-half cup of rolled oats, and add one-half a cup of milk (use a dairy-free alternative in order to make the recipe vegan).

2. Add one to two tablespoons of chia seeds, and finish off with a teaspoon of sweetener like maple syrup or honey.

3. Mix and put in a jar or other covered container overnight.

4. Finally, wake up, and it’s ready to eat before class!

Find the recipe by Isabel Acosta at


Pesto Pasta

If you are looking for an alternative to microwaveable ramen or mac and cheese, this is the perfect recipe for you. Learning how to make one serving of pasta using only the microwave is a very useful skill, and the recipe is one that can be customized to your preferences. Just be careful as the mug is going to be hot!

1. Put one-half cup of pasta into a microwave safe mug with two-thirds cup of water. 

2. Place a paper towel beneath the mug before heating on high for five minutes, stopping halfway to stir.

3. Add another one-third cup of water and heat for two to three more minutes.

4. Remove and add one and one-half tablespoons of pesto and, if desired, tomatoes and spinach.

5. Microwave for around 30 seconds to a minute longer.

6. Top with cheese and enjoy!

Find this recipe by Denise Bustard at


With a texture akin to a fluffy brownie, the mug cake was an absolutely delicious dessert.

Chocolate Mug Cake

With the stress of college life, sometimes you just need to eat your feelings with some chocolate cake, which you can conveniently make in your dorm room. Mug cakes became super popular a year or so ago, and, after making this recipe, I understand why. They are incredibly convenient, requiring little baking talent or time to make a successful dessert. If you invest in some flour and sugar for your dorm, you can make them whenever you want.

1. Mix together three tablespoons of flour, three tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of cocoa powder, and one-fourth teaspoon of baking powder in a microwave safe mug with a fork.

2. Add three tablespoons of milk, three tablespoons of vegetable oil and mix.

3. Finish off with around three tablespoons of chocolate chips, and optionally add a pinch of salt or splash of vanilla extract.

4. Microwave for 90 seconds on high, let cool and eat!

Find this recipe by Ree Drummond at


Peanut Butter Oat Energy Bites

While my hands got a little messy in the process, the peanut butter energy balls are incredibly fun and fast to make.

Granola bars are a staple of most student’s diets, as they are easy to eat on the go. These energy bites are a healthier alternative and a tasty snack that fills you up fast. This recipe produces six bites, which can be shared with roommates or saved over a few days.

1. Mix together one-third cup of peanut butter, one-half cup of rolled oats, one tablespoon of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of honey. Add salt to taste.

2. Put the mix in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

3. Roll the mix into six separate balls using a spoon to divide the portions, and form each ball into a sphere using your hands.

4. Optionally, cover a surface with loose oats to roll the energy bites over for a final coating and you’re done! 

Find this recipe by Mercedes Sandoval at