Dorm room gourmet 

Real food for the kitchenless college kid on a budget

Gone are the days of toaster ovens, hot plates and hot pots, of just-add-water cup-a soup, pop-tarts and party pizzas.

George Foreman, former heavyweight champion of the world, has discovered a way for you to fix easy, delicious meals without even needing a kitchen. With a small dorm size fridge and a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine, you are on your way to food that may actually appear in a cookbook.

When you're out shopping for extra-long sheets for your dorm bunk bed, shower shoes and a reliable alarm clock, keep your eyes peeled in the small appliances section of your local discount store. For around $20 you can get a grill that holds two burgers or two small chicken breasts at a time, and avoid four years of cold cereal, cafeteria meat products and pizza burnout. But beware. As the smell of grilled meat and veggies wafts out your window and through the crack under your door, your little dorm room may just become a hangout for friends homesick for home cooking. (If you're planning on making friends through people's bellies, a "family size" grill that holds five burgers runs about $50).

With a small stock of inexpensive marinades including Italian dressing, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice you'll be able to create meals from burgers, chicken and mushrooms to more simple, no-prep meals like veggie burgers, grilled cheese and hash browns. Non-perishable herbs and spices like many of the McCormick grill mates or Lawry's seasoning blends (all under $5) can also be used as a dry rub on meat and vegetables for even more minimal prep time and hearty flavor.

Side dishes, too, can be simple and cheap. A can of one of Bush's variety of baked beans (around $1.50) refrigerated to serve cold, goes great with burgers. With chicken, serve a prepackaged salad mix (around $3) with some of the Italian dressing you already have on hand as a marinade. To complete a meal of grilled veggies, pick up a loaf of crusty French bread (around $2) to serve on the side.

Now, with a belly full of non-water-based food, the only remaining concern is clean up. With advance use of a nonstick spray like Pam, clean up can be a breeze. While the grill can't be immersed in water, the bathroom sink (or shower), a sponge and some dish soap will easily do the duty. Wipe, rinse, air-dry and repeat from beginning for the next meal.

-- Carrie Simison-Bitz


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