By Nora Klein ’24 (she/her)

Nora Klein prepares a breakfast cookie in a mug. Image courtesy of Nora Klein ’24

Microwave meals are a stereotypical college food, and for good reason! They’re simple, quick, and cheap—perfect for students who lack access to a kitchen or who just don’t have the time to cook a classic meal. They aren’t limited to certain foods—you can actually make delicious microwave meals for any occasion: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and anything else you might crave.

Also, as an added bonus, a lot of ingredients can actually be sourced on campus or easily found at low costs at local grocery stores. If you have extra dining dollars, Commons Market has some items such as apples, blueberries, bananas, and peanut butter. Lula Bell’s is also a great resource for groceries! Even first-years can find fruit, vegetables, seasoning, and other items there (including pumpkin puree through October!). Lula Bell’s has all of these items, as well as butter, milk, eggs, cheese, oil, beans, and pasta. Simply fill out the form on Wildcat Sync to pick up an order. Otherwise, stop by Harris Teeter or another local grocery store to purchase any additional needed items.

There are hundreds of microwave meal recipes out there, but here are a few to get you started:

Breakfast:

Omelette

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe mug, whisk eggs together with a fork.
  2. Add parsley, green onions, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir and break up any large chunks of egg.
  4. Cook for another 45 to 60 seconds or until eggs are set.
  5. Top with green onions, salt, and pepper.

Breakfast Cookie

Ingredients

  • ½ medium banana
  • 1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter
  • ½ tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 tablespoons oats (rolled or quick oats)
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (seeds or nuts)

Instructions

  1. In a large microwave-safe mug, mash the banana well with a fork.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter, milk, and honey, and mix well together.
  3. Add in the oats and raisins, and stir until combined.
  4. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until firm to the touch on top.

Lunch and Dinner:

Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup pasta
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large microwave-safe mug or bowl, combine the macaroni and water. (You definitely need a large mug because the water will boil and could spill.)
  2. Microwave for about 3 ½ minutes. The pasta should be fully cooked.
  3. Drain the remaining water from the mug or bowl.
  4. Stir in the milk, cornstarch, and shredded cheese, and microwave for another 60 seconds to create a sauce. Stir well, and season with salt and pepper.

Ramen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 block of pre-packaged Ramen
  • 2 tablespoons frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoons chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, sliced

Instructions

  1. In a large microwave-safe mug, combine all ingredients, breaking the noodles so they fit in the mug. Again, use a large mug since the stock will bubble up while cooking. 
  2. Microwave for 2 to 2 ½ minutes or until the noodles are tender.
  3. Serve hot from the microwave. Feel free to add more chili sauce, sesame seeds, or other flavors you like.

Desserts:

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe mug, mix together all ingredients until fully combined.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until firm, but springy to the touch, on top.

Brownie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons flavorless oil (canola oil/coconut oil/sunflower oil)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe mug, mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips.
  2. Once combined, mix in the chocolate chips.
  3. Microwave for 45-60 seconds. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.

Remember that timing might vary based on your microwave. Unless it’s specified, it’s a good idea to set the power level on your microwave to an 8 or 9 rather than 10 if possible, or just aim for the lowest cooking time if you have to use full power. Also, generally all dishes are best enjoyed straight out of the microwave, so don’t let it sit too long after you make it.

Your next meal has never looked this easy, so happy eating!