Cooking in college is hard, especially when you live in the dorms. The food at the dining commons can get boring after eating it every single day, but you still gotta eat something, right? For me, switching my meal plan to 10 meals per week was a really smart decision because I knew I would get tired of the dining commons food, and it gave me time to cook with my friends and experiment with sorts of creative recipes with whatever I could find at the food bank.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

One of the best ingredients to cook with is spam because it’s incredibly cheap and you can incorporate it into any meal and make it taste that much better. As for the other things you’ll need for cooking in the dorms, you can usually rent out pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils from the front desk. In terms of everything else, I snuck out bowls, knives and forks from DLG, but don’t worry, I’ll return them at the end of the year. For the ingredients other than spam, you can make trips to the food bank to get fresh produce and other goodies you can incorporate into your meals, but here’s everything that I’ve cooked during my Fall Quarter at UCSB and let me tell you, it was not bad at all.

Spam Musubi: Everybody loves spam musubi. It’s simple and delicious. Aside from the spam, you’ll need white rice, which can be found at the food bank, and a few sheets of seaweed. When I made spam musubi, I had to bring the seaweed from home because you most likely won’t find that at the food bank. All you need to do it cook the rice in a pot according to the package directions, but if you’re too lazy to cook the rice, white rice from Panda Express is always an option. Then after slicing and cooking the spam, all you need to do is pack the rice together and section it off into the size of the spam slices and wrap it in a piece of seaweed. You can also use some soy sauce packets from Panda Express to give the spam more flavor!

Spam Fried Rice: For the spam fried rice, I used all the ingredients I used for the spam musubi in additional to onions I got from the food bank and lots of soy sauce packets from Panda Express. I basically diced the spam and onion, cooked the rice, and let it sit out for 15 minutes. Then, I threw all the rice, spam, and onion in a frying pan and let it cook until the spam was cooked. To top it off, I just ripped up some seaweed and sprinkled it on top as a garnish.

All in all, spam is one of the best ingredients to cook with if you’re looking for some creative ways to eat while living in the dorms. These meals are super simple and easy to make, and you really don’t need to spend that much money if you take advantage of the resources on campus, so go ahead and try it out. You won’t regret it!