Sadly, Diana and Ana, some of us aren't as lucky as you. For the rest of us, solace lies in knowing that – armed with nothing but a fridge and a microwave – there's a glimmer of hope. Here, a few solutions to satisfy our collective hunger pains:
• I've got the munchies … at 3 a.m.
We've all been there before. Thankfully, you can stock up on all manner of frozen treats from White Castle Slyders to T.G.I. Friday's potato skins. But as long as you can be trusted to operate machinery, go ahead with these quick fixes:
Slice pre-packaged polenta (available at Whole Foods) into 1/4-inch-thick patties and top with thin slices of cheese (fontina, mozzarella or Parmesan work nicely). Place onto a plate and microwave on high until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Microwave some pre-packaged popcorn, put it in a bowl and add whatever seasonings or flavors you prefer. Almost anything will do. Make it sweet: drizzle some honey; add in some M&Ms and nuts. Give it some kick with this mix: a little chili powder, your favorite hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Cholula) and melted butter.
• Not another veggie burger, please!
Granted, most college dining services are trying their hardest to provide vegetarians and vegans with plenty of dining options. Still, there must be limits to how much vegetarian chili one can consume in a week.
“A microwave is actually the best way to steam vegetables,” says Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She recommends placing veggies (broccoli, carrots, asparagus, etc.) in a microwave-safe bowl with just enough water and lemon juice to cover them. Seal with a lid or plastic wrap, leaving some room for steam to escape. Microwave on high four to eight minutes, depending on how thick the vegetables are. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
For a complete meal, throw in some tofu (which can also be steamed) and instant couscous – just add water boiled in the ol' microwave (Andrea recommends Trader Joe's) – or microwaveable rice.
Another good idea: Stock up on Amy's Kitchen frozen burritos and entrees (available at Whole Foods). All are guaranteed vegetarian and organic.
• Class starts at 7 a.m. sharp.
So you got stuck with a class that begins hours before your preferred wake-up time of noon. The dining hall isn't open. You're tired, self-loathing and hungry. Try a nice hot bowl of oatmeal. It's a good source of fiber.
There are plenty of instant oatmeal packets; the regular batch will do, too. Just follow the directions.
“I like to add frozen strawberries and I use soy milk instead of water or milk,” says Andrea. The options are endless. Oh, and make sure your roommate isn't a light sleeper.
• Longing to relive your Easy-Bake Oven glory days?
College can be tough. For some, nostalgia and copious amounts of chocolate are the only way to deal. Go online and check out the Microwave Brownies recipe from George Duran, host of Food Network's “Ham on the Street” (www.foodnetwork.com). We hope it helps.
• I've fallen and I can't (or won't) get up.
It starts with a little cough; pretty soon, your entire floor is under self-imposed quarantine. Or it starts with doing absolutely nothing; before you know it, you can't be bothered to get out of bed, let alone your dorm room. Yet whether seriously ill or lazy, one must find the time to eat.
This is a time when canned soups might actually seem mmm mmm good to you. Keep a couple on hand, just in case. Instant packages of miso soup are comforting, too.
Make it your own by adding veggies, tofu cubes or nori . Soothe a sore throat with some homemade honey lemon tea (add 2 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. lemon juice and sugar to taste into a cup of hot water).
• For the aspiring Iron Chef
We have a feeling this Microwave Cornbread Eggs Benedict recipe, also from Mr. Duran over at “Ham on the Street” ( www.foodnetwork.com) , might be better than your standard brunch offering of scrambled powdered egg mix and water. Yum.
• Variety really is the spice of life.
No matter how good the dorm food is, the taste buds are bound to get bored. Curry and chickpea lettuce wraps (see recipe) are a great way to break up the monotony.
• Get to know your neighbors.
Fondue, anyone? This communal culinary concoction is making a big comeback. No fondue kit necessary; just make sure you keep it warm without using an open flame.
Go traditional with bread cubes or steamed veggies dipped in melted Swiss or Gruyère (don't forget to add a little bit of flour). Satisfy a sweet tooth with strawberries and bananas in chocolate.