Seven months ago, I packed my bags, excited to move to a bustling Canadian city. I had dreams and was excited to see them come true. Two weeks in, I had a rude awakening. As an Indian vegetarian, I had grown up with different spices and different flavoured foods daily, and the dining hall was not cutting it. Between the lack of flavour and the inconsistency in my schedule, I had to start cooking.
My love for cooking began during the COVID-19 pandemic when I turned toward making extravagant sauces and mixing spices — but afterward, I realized I did not have time for that anymore. This was the start of my quest to find the easiest and quickest meals that tasted good. When beginning this journey, two issues stood out to me: the price of groceries and the time-consuming nature of cooking. After some experimentation and research, I was able to find three easy recipes that are cheap and quick. To avoid the high grocery prices, all my vegetables and proteins came from salads and sides from the dining hall. For those living off residence, all of these recipes use items that are easy to find at your local 7-ELEVEN or Shoppers Drug Mart!
Vegetarian mac and cheese
- Frozen mac and cheese
- Garlic powder
- Sriracha (or preferred hot sauce)
- Any vegetables in your fridge
Heat your frozen mac and cheese half way, for two minutes. Take a bowl, and mix your vegetables and spices as needed with 1/8 cup of water. Mix and microwave until the vegetables are soft. Transfer the mac and cheese into the bowl with the vegetables and microwave until cooked, another two minutes.
TIP: This recipe is so easy because the base of the meal is already given in frozen form. You can apply this recipe to any other frozen dish that can be deemed unhealthy on its own. If you add protein and vegetables, it will become a fulfilling meal that takes 10 minutes to make.
- Ramen packet
- Oil or butter
- Garlic powder
- Sriracha or preferred hot sauce
- One egg or other protein of choice
- Soy sauce
- Ginger paste
- Broth (optional)
Take your ramen and cook the noodles as normal without the spice. Once you drain the noodles, add a teaspoon of butter or oil and scramble the egg in the pan with the ramen. Spice the eggs as needed and mix. Add one more teaspoon of oil or butter, add your vegetables, and mix. After two minutes, add two cups of water or broth, and add the flavour packet — if you’re using broth don’t add the flavour packet. Once you mix it, take it off the stove, and spice as needed with garlic powder, ginger paste, and Sriracha or any preferred hot sauce.
TIP: Sometimes unhealthy cravings can be given some nutrients and become a better meal. Think about what you can add to make a meal healthier rather than forcing yourself to eat healthily. University is rough, and sometimes we need a good pick me up. Food is fun when you enjoy what you are eating!
Shallow-fried ravioli — a good snack for friends!
- Pasta sauce
- Sriracha (or hot sauce of your choice)
- Garlic paste
- Oil or butter
Boil your ravioli until it’s cooked. Put three tablespoons of oil in a pan and wait until hot. Keep your hand over the pan and feel the heat. Put four raviolis in the pan, and cook until each side is golden brown. Once the ravioli is fried, put it on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Once the oil is removed, mix the ravioli with parmesan, honey garlic paste, hot sauce, and other spices as you see fit. Mix the pasta sauce and hot sauce for a dipping sauce.
TIP: You can use frozen ravioli packets and separate the sauce from the ravioli!
While some of these meals require a stove, these are all easy, quick, and most accessible for dorm living. Moving away from home and managing food for the first time is not easy, and sometimes the dining hall food is not the best. Next time you’re in a bind, try these recipes!