college/dorm cooking advice!?!

klseiverdAugust 5, 2012

Have seen this topic pop up on a few sites recently.

PLEASE don't slam me, but if you're sending a kid away to college who doesn't have BASIC kitchen survival skills... ya dropped the ball somewhere??

I went to college in 1492 and it still bugs me when I think about all the $$ in dininghall food that didn't get eaten. Back then, NO mini-fridge or microwave in rooms. Most had a hot pot and a "stinger"... that hadda be HIDDEN... NOT allowed!

IF you have a kid who is going off to college... what "tools" would you suggest they take along? I'm a yard saler, so would be looking for CLEAN stuff that looked barely/rarely used. Coffee maker, toaster oven, electric skillet, small crock pot, maybe stand-alone electric burner. Maybe an CHEAP non-stick skillet and sauce pan with a few wooden/plastic/silicon tools.

Would advise kids to scrounge (NOT STEAL) whenever possible... extra S&P, mayo/mustard/ketchup/hot sauce packets, napkins?!?

Would proably look for a simple cookbook on dorm food... imagine they're out there... like 100 ways to cook with Ramen noodles?

If your kid has an electric skillet, some S&P, and a package of (inexpensive) chicken legs... should easily be able to have dorm mates drooling at his/her door!

My Jr year, lived in a big old converted house with 15 other girls. MOST were relatively CLUELESS in kitchen... at TWENTY years old?? Remember my Dad sending me back from a weekend home with 2 lbs of frozen beef short ribs, a BIG tomato & bell pepper, and large can of tomato-something (sauce, puree, whole?). Limited cooking stuff, but room-mate, a few others and I ate like QUEENS... cuz I knew a little something about cooking.

Spent student teaching semester in a REALLY nice 3 BR apartment with 5 other girls... NONE knew much about cooking basics. Dinner was pretty much Monday-Thursday... everybody went home to family/boyfriends. Established early that if ya COOKED, ya didn't have to CLEAN!! THAT worked for me!

When god-daughters were in college they'd get 2-3 care packages during the school year. Think dollar stores have pretty much eliminated the need for that??

When niece heads off to colleg (fall 2014), gonna make her up a care package of "tools" and a cookbook!

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My daughter just graduated(with Honors, yea!)in January from college. All four years she chose to cook primarily, rather than eat from the cafe. Each dorm had a full kitchen. Cooking was not allowed in the rooms. They could have a microwave(popcorn, heating soups,tea)in the room. We sent her off with a new inexpensive set of cookware, utensils, plastic plates, etc. She was the only one of her dorm friends that cooked there. Her first night she made a spaghetti with lobster chunks in a butter sauce. When she was washing her dishes, four guys came in to ask if she had any leftovers it smelled so good. Great way to meet new people by the way she found out! We started teaching our kids cooking lessons when they were 7 or 8 years old. You are never to young to start. Simple things at first, gradually more complicated things. Now they can cook great dishes by themselves and for Wayne and I! NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 5:29PM
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My kids and grand ( who are in college) all went to schools where2 years in the dorm with meal plans were required....after that it was time for an apartment with a real kitchen.
One grand son is about to start his first year of apartment living....and cooking for himself. He'll do fine...he's the one who a few years back wanted me to show him how to make sticky buns. And as I was saying more butter....more sugar...saying "Grandma...thatn's enough" and I told him there is never too much butter and brown sugar!
My kids and most of my grand kids can put together a more than passable meal....but I suspect the twins will live on Frozen pizza and boxed cereal....but they have a few years to learn!

I guess my best advice is to realize what you save by cooking for your self....even heating frozen pizza and adding extra cheese is cheaper than eating out. And if you can make sausage and eggs, toast bread and cut up an onion, you are waaay ahead of the food game! Boil pasta, add garlic powder, olive oil, boxed grated cheese and some dried oregano and hot pepper flakes....instant gourmet!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Does your niece know how to cook now?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:45PM
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Barely! I consier her spoiled at bit but not SPOIlED??

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:29PM
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NancyLouise's post makes it sound like there are better cooking facilities available today than there were in my day, some twenty-odd years ago, at least in some schools. But even if there was a gourmet kitchen available I'd not expect a college kid living in a dorm environment to regularly plan, shop and execute a well-balanced diet.

College is about studying and having fun. Great that they can cook if and when they want to. For most, cafeteria food is a better option for the other seven days a week, IMO.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Having been surprised by a classmate who revealed after we left school that she had no cooking skills (by this time I was filling in for the cook in our family country pub on his days off), I was determined that any children I had would know how to cook before they left home.
DD could prepare a simple meal by the time she was 9, but she didn't enjoy cooking as much as I did, which made me sad.
When she moved out for about the first year she was living (much to my disgust) on fast food. Then one day she announced, "You know Mum, it's much cheaper to cook yourself." I bit back the urge to say incredulously, "Really?" ;-)
As she has got older she has got more and more into cooking. Last winter she announced she had bought a slow cooker and was looking for recipes for it. Then she told me she had made Peking Duck for dinner. Yay!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Well, while I consider cooking skills an absolute must, and my son could/can cook, you might pay attention to the fact that most dorm rooms DO NOT allow electric skillets, crock pots or any other small appliances other than a coffee maker.

DS's room came with a mini-fridge/microwave oven combo. ANY other cooking appliances discovered in random room checks could have had him kicked out of the dorm. His dorm fees included eating privileges at many venues around the campus.

Oh, and washing your electric skillet in the shared bathroom sink is kind of frowned upon, LOL. No venting is another problem. The windows don't generally open and the people in the next room do not want to smell either your chicken or your curry.

More modern dorm rooms for groups of 4 or 6 do come with kitchens, but the cost was astronomical - we might as well rented him a condo for that price.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:50PM
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Both my girls went to a local state university and they commuted, I couldn't afford a dorm or the attendant food/meal plan anyway. The school does not allow any cooking devices other than a small refrigerator and a microwave in the dorms and the dorms do not have a kitchen. Students who do not commute are required to live on campus for the first year and are not allowed to have cars but it's a short walk to Burger King and a myriad of other fast food joints. By all accounts the meals available on campus are pretty awful, the usual institutionalized carp from local food service companies.

They can both cook. Amanda does it regularly, Ashley tries to avoid it at all costs, even though she's now 24 and a mother. I keep telling her that Madison cannot live on Taco Bell and Spanky's Pizza, so she's going to have to start cooking soon. We'll see.

So, you can teach them to cook, but you can't make 'em do it!


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:30PM
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My daughter will totally agree with you Annie, the food at the college cafe was terrible. Ariel enjoyed cooking for herself and her friends much more. She did occasionally eat there at the cafe or pick up some fast food on the run. But it was only if she was going out to a college function quickly after her last class. And yes,foas, she shopped and planned her meals, along with help from us with care packages from home. Had fun and graduated with honors. She continues to bake and cook and is even thinking of starting an Etsy (or whatever that site it is called)account to sell her baked goods. Now my other daughter can cook, but she does it just to stop the hunger pains. I don't think she enjoys it like Ariel does. She is attending a community college and just commutes. No cooking needed. She would probably have chosen the food plan and complained about how awful the food was but still would have eaten it or gone out for fast food. Kids! NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:53AM
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If she has a suite with a kitchen, then by all means I'd get her kitchen stuff but as many have pointed out, most dorms don't allow anything because of the risk of fire.

I graduated a few years ago and our dorm had a gorgeous kitchen but we weren't allowed to use it for ourselves, only for functions. We had a microwave and mini fridge in our suite and those were the only things allowed.

If she doesn't have a kitchen and she has roommates, I'd also check with them first because when you're sharing a small space with no kitchen, someone frying up chicken can get disgusting really fast for the other people. I would not have been happy if one of my roommates regularly made herself a cooked dinner in our room.

Not to be a downer but I don't know anyone who lived on campus and cooked, even in the dorms with kitchens. A huge part of the social aspect was the dining halls or going out to eat with friends, even if the food wasn't amazing. Most people ate big meals in the dining hall and kept fruit and cereal and other snacky type things in their room.

If she has an apartment, that's one thing but I wouldn't go crazy for dorm stuff until you have more specifics and see how she adjusts. Storage space is also at a premium so she might not have room for a bunch of gadgets she won't ever use.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 3:18PM
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I thought all college students lived on instant ramen. I knew some who made this in a hotpot in my student days.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 3:22PM
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