I know this post says: College Cooking, but it can also be considered Minimalist, if you consider how little you really need to make an awesome meal on the fly.
I use a lot of these principles when I live out of hotel rooms, myself. The rice cooker has been certainly one of the best appliances I’ve traveled with.
- Immersion Blender ($10 – $200)
- Rice Cooker (doubles as a Steamer)
- Hot Plate (if you are allowed to have one)
- Microwave (if you are allowed to have one)
- Mini Bar Fridge/Freezer (if you are allowed to have one)
- Bowls & Plates — or a high-curved plate that can double as both
- Utensils — Spork (spoon + fork)
- LOTS of Tupperware — I recommend Glasslock, because the glass bottoms can double as microwaveable bowls, sans the top, and you can use it to store food (dry or in the fridge)
- Olive Oil
- Sesame Oil
FOOD PREPPING TIPS
This is all assuming you have a fridge or a microwave to use.
Make food ahead of time and freeze them into individual packs
Stews, Chilis, Casseroles, Soups, are all great options.
Braised chicken, Meatloaf, Meatballs, Lasgana, Stuffed or Baked Pastas, Enchiladas, Burritos, Gratins, Samosas
Cut your vegetables and freeze those as well
Onions, Carrots, Peas, Broccoli, Cauliflower and anything that will keep in a frozen state nicely.
Cooked potatoes, by the way, do NOT work unless they are in French Fry form. They end up mushy with a strange sponge-like texture, and not at all like a dense yet flaky carbohydrate that a potato should be.
Mix and match
You can even make basic sauces and bases, cooked proteins and cooked vegetables in individual, single-serving packets, to let the mixing and matching fly.
This isn’t very eco-friendly (I’m thinking vacuum-sealed packets here), but it sure makes it easy to open one pack of chicken (chopped or whole), grab another packet of sauce, and yet another packet of veggies to mix as a meal.
Pasta sauces, preferably not carbonara or butter-based, re-heat very well.
I also recommend pastes — tomato pastes, red miso paste, white miso paste and chili pastes are great ways to add a punch of flavour to ANY dish you make without all of the work in doing so.
Microwaves work wonders
Microwave cooking for one. Don’t knock it.
I actually prefer cooking my fish in the microwave (salmon, mostly), because with 2 minutes on high, it is perfectly cooked, and ready-to-eat in a flash.
Throw it on top of freshly made rice, grab a spoonful of red miso paste, top with some fresh coriander and munch away.
WAIT! What if I don’t have anything?
If you can only have an immersion blender and rice cooker, that isn’t so bad.
You can cook rice and food in a rice cooker at the same time.
Just pour the rice in there with some water, and place a bowl in the middle of the rice cooker with the veggies or the seasoned meat you want to steam while the rice is cooking.
I did this a LOT when I was younger, because I wasn’t allowed to use the oven, so I would chop up chicken into small pieces, season it with sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper, placed inside the bowl, inside the rice cooker.
Once the rice is done, the food is done as well. Just make sure the pieces are chopped up into small pieces.
With an immersion blender, you can make fruit smoothies, but also hummus for the day. Pop open a can of chickpeas, add some lemon juice, tahini (if you want to), salt and spread it on some pita bread or on a salad for a quick meal.
There are plenty of raw food options out there — Choosing Raw — is one of my go-to blogs for recipes.
STORAGE: GLASS FOOD CONTAINERS
Whether you have a fridge or not, using your tupperware to store your food is highly recommended by yours truly.
Just covering it in plastic wrap doesn’t work for me.
Plastic is not so hot for the environment, especially when you are wrapping plates and then throwing the plastic wrap away after it turns into a soggy, stretched-out mess.
When you store your food in those uber-tough Tupperware containers, there is a very low chance of spillage, messiness, and food contamination.
Plus, you can stack them on top of each other in neat little piles, which is something I am hard pressed to do with plates.
I highly recommend GlassLock containers — they are very much like the Starfrit Lock and Lock containers, but with a glass bottom.
Sure, they’re heavier than the all-plastic variety, but you can re-use them as microwaveable containers without the top on.
In a pinch, I have also placed food on the backs of the plastic tops and eaten off it like a plate.
Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!
This post first appeared on Fabulously Broke.