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While the quality of dorm food varies across colleges, we all get tired of cafeteria food sometime. And when that time comes, you have the options of either wimping out by getting take out, or spreading your own culinary wings and taking flight to chow town. Of course, opting for the latter can certainly seem daunting at first, but compiled below are a couple of entrées that are not only delicious and reasonably simple to make, but easy on the wallet as well.


1. Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta (courtesy of BudgetBytes)

Prep Time: ~25 minutes

Serves 2


  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil (or vegetable oil as substitute)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp of dried basil
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 oz. of cream cheese
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan
  • ½ lb. of penne pasta
  • ½ (9 oz.) bag of fresh spinach
  1. Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta.
  2. During the time in which the pasta is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, and salt, with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the parmesan and whisk until melted in again.
  5. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Best served warm.


2. Pizza Mac & Cheese (courtesy of Spoon University)

Prep Time: ~50-60 minutes

Serves 4


  • 2 cups of elbow macaroni
  • ¾ teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 8 ounces of sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 ounces of shredded Gruyere cheese
  • ½ cup of marinara sauce
  • ½ cup of sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 ounces of pepperoni slices
  • 2 cups of half and half


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Boil a large pot of water.

3. Add the macaroni and cook until firm to bite.

4. Strain the pasta, setting aside about 1 cup of the pasta water in a bowl for later preparation.

5. In a saucepan, combine up the half and half, oregano and crushed red pepper and place over heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

6. Add the cream cheese and stir until there the texture is completely smooth and even.

7. Mix in the shredded Cheddar and Gruyere cheese until sauce is smooth.

8. Add the macaroni and the previously set aside cup of water to the saucepan.

9. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes, marinara sauce, and pepperoni.

10. Once thoroughly mixed, pour into a pan.

11. Evenly sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan over the baking pan with the macaroni and sauce in it.

12. Stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes until the macaroni is lightly brown. The breadcrumbs should be slightly crispy at this point.

13. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes; then serve.


3. Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese (Courtesy of Freebie Finding Mom)

Prep Time: ~30 minutes

Serves 2


  • ½ Tbsp of olive oil (or vegetable oil as substitute)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ lb. of  frozen cut spinach
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 2 ciabatta rolls (or similar bread as substitute)
  • 1 cup shredded of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 oz. feta cheese


  1. Mince the garlic and add it to a skillet with the olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the frozen spinach, turn the heat up to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut the rolls in half. Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ oz. of feta to the bottom half of each roll. Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus ¼ more shredded mozzarella on each.
  3. Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water to create weight, then place the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down like a panini press. Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook until the sandwiches are crispy on the bottom. Carefully flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.

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