Cooking healthy in the dorm

by Courtney Murphy 

College students are not well-known for being health-conscious chefs, often choosing french fries over carrot sticks, and fast food over home-cooked meals. However, some students do not fit this paradigm, transcending the difficulties of cooking in cramped dorm kitchens.

Lana Ferris, the president of the cooking club, is one of those students.

“My mom had us in the kitchen since we were toddlers. She’d have us make pies and we’d take pieces of dough and roll them out into miniature pies, or she’d have us crack eggs into cookie dough or help with stirring,” Ferris said.

Cooking has been important to Ferris since she was young. She did not let college impede on that portion of her life.

“I [wanted] to be part of a cooking club and there wasn’t one, so I started one,” Ferris said.

She started the club last spring. Originally, the club had five members who regularly attended, Ferris said.

“Cooking has become a big part of my social life,” Ferris said.

She regularly cooks for and with other people, and has taco nights with her roommate.

Students in the dorms will always love to eat home made food. However, dorm cooking also provides challenges. Cramped spaces, limited supplies, old appliances and low budgets can make cooking an inconvenience. Ferris found that with a bit of ingenuity and planning, dorm-cooked meals are a tasty possibility.

“I did a lot of garage sale-ing before I came, so I was pretty well-stocked [with utensils],” Ferris said. “I brought my own crockpot, so that’s helped a lot.”

In addition to bringing her own cooking equipment, Ferris has found ways to eat home-cooked meals every day without much hassle or time spent.

“On Sunday, I cook two huge dishes and alternate between leftovers every night, so that helps time-wise,” Ferris said.

For students who are too busy to cook every night but would like to spend some meals away from Sodexo, Ferris has some tips.

For those in dorms with a more limited kitchen there are some ways to easily cook favorite meals with very little equipment needed.

Many common kitchen items can be used for alternate purposes, and students can get creative to utilize them to their full potential.

“I’ve done the good old using a glass for a rolling pin,” Ferris said.

If time is an issue, many easy meals can be prepared quickly and easily at a low cost. Google “easy meals for college students” for inspiration.

Ferris recommends making miniature pizzas if you don’t have much time. English muffins work well for crust.

This year, the cooking club is gaining momentum and plans to host several events throughout the year.

“We’ve been interested in doing cooking classes, and maybe partnering with Sodexo,” Ferris said.

The club is planning a potluck in the spring where participants can share their recipes with others. Ferris said they will possibly have a cook-off or bake-off. They hope to educate students on cooking and hopefully promote interest in the activity.

The cooking club meets from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the East kitchen.

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