Cooking for the busy university student is an art in itself. As artists, we often look for the mundane and use it for inspiration. You needn’t look far for these sources of inspiration, some of the simplest cooking hacks are at your fingertips.
Rice Cooker Meals
Don’t be deceived by the name. Rice-cookers are more than your average specialty appliance; resourceful college students everywhere have used this versatile device for everything from preparing breakfast to dessert. Loading ingredients into rice cookers is convenient, easy, and mess-free. No need to repeatedly check if your meal is ready, it’s ready when you are. Some possibilities to consider making in rice cookers include chocolate cake, risotto, jalapeno bread, lasagna, and the list goes on.
Coffee Maker Meals
A few months ago, I tried my hand at coffee-maker cooking, and I had my meal prepped in under five minutes, right beside my laptop where I was finishing my term essay. So what are some items you can cook in a coffee maker? The answer depends on how creative you feel. Some popular items include ramen, mac and cheese, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, or even steamed vegetables for the adventurous student chefs. Coffee maker meals produce some sensationally simple, delicious meals at your fingertips. If you’re not a caffeine addict like me, it might be worth it to specialize your coffee maker just for meal-prep.
Who says microwaves only function to heat up scraps and thaw frozen food? Microwaves are an untapped potential for students and busy workaholics everywhere. Personally, I find egg-derivatives such as quiche, scrambled eggs, and poached eggs work fantastically with the microwave. Other possibilities include two-minute mac and cheese meals, jacket potatoes, and enchiladas that can spice up your lunch or dinner. There’re entire blogs dedicated to the art of microwave cooking in a cup. Think of the possibilities!
Waffle Maker/Panini Maker Meals
Waffle-makers and panini makers are left on the back burner when it comes to meal-prep. Psychology tells us it can be hard to think of alternative uses for a tool conventionally used for one purpose (Adamson). But, of course, if you’re a food fanatic like me, you’ll think outside of the waffle box. After my mom turned our panini maker into an omelette maker, I never looked at this nifty device the same way again. Panini makers and waffle makers can be used as a makeshift grill for bacon, chicken breast, beef patties, or even hash browns! Since these devices are portable, you can start grilling in the comfort of your bedroom.
Mason Jar Meals
Mason jars are a new DIY item I have yet to experiment with. But the potential is there. For the busy student packing creative, exciting lunches is hard to come by. However, mason jars make the job seem effortless. Salads, cold noodles, deconstructed sushi all in a boring jam jar? Mason jars are a small but powerful tool for the busy student. For expert mason jar users, try adding hot water to cold, seasoned dishes, such as egg noodles, and voila! You have your own noodle soup.
ReferencesAdamson, R. E. (1952). Functional fixedness as related to problem solving: A repetition of three experiments. Journal of experimental psychology, 44(4), 288-291.
Xin Xu is a post-graduate health-science AU student, aspiring clinician, globe-trotter, parrot-breeder and tea-connoisseur.