For students on a budget trying to save money by eating microwave meals, there are things they can do to spice things up and add flavor to a bland or repetitive meal.
Dining Services works with residence halls to help offer classes for students to take advantage of in the dining halls, said Mike Paulus, director of Dining Services.
Chefs from Dining Services have held classes to teach students how to make spring rolls, sushi and even how to make ice cream in a dorm room, Paulus said.
Both Paulus and Dining Services Senior Executive Chef Patrick Hannan believe the most important thing is to take advantage of these classes and to check the Internet for simple food options.
There are plenty of ideas and recipes online, Hannan said.
Dining Services also has several Outtakes stores located around campus for students to purchase food items.
“We try to provide grab-and-go items for students” Paulus said.
The Outtakes stores are not grocery stores but they offer convenient items that students can make easily, he said.
If a student is struggling with ideas, they can ask any chef in the dining halls, who make 28,000 meals a day, Paulus said.
“The chefs love it when students reach out,” Paulus said.
Hannan himself had advice for students living on microwave meals.
For popular meals such ramen noodles, Hannan said he has a simple tip to improve the dish.
“Throw out the packet that comes with the noodles because it’s full of sodium,” he said.
Students just need to add chicken stock in place of the flavor packet, he said.
Sophomore Alex Sajewski said he likes to add Tabasco sauce to his ramen, while freshman Ed Pfrenger said he likes to drain all the water and add the flavor packet with some garlic powder because it makes it taste “delicious.”
Another idea presented by Hannan was to take an egg and break it onto a piece of bread and microwave it to create a sunny side egg sandwich ready to eat.
Easy Mac is another popular affordable meal for students.
“I like to put corn in my Easy Mac to add flavor and make it more filling,” said freshman Jenny Sims.
Canned foods like corn can be used in a residence hall room because all you need is a can opener and you just add the corn straight into the Easy Mac, Sims said.
Instead of canned vegetables, Hannan said adding a little bit of a favorite salsa can enhance Easy Mac.
Hannan said simply adding bread crumbs to the macaroni and cheese can improve it.
All residence halls at the University have kitchens.
“If you have a kitchen, learn to cook,” Hannan said.