Your Hot Pot and You
All this talk of blenders and other electrical kitchen gadgets leads us to the most quintessential college appliance of all: the hot pot. Let's say you don't have access to a kitchen of any kind while you're in college. Worry not — that's what your hot pot is for! A hot pot is just what it sounds like: a small plastic pot with a heating element in the bottom and an attached lid on top that plugs into the wall and acts as a stovetop and a pot all in one.
All you have to do is plug it in, turn it on, and fill it with anything that needs to be heated up. You can boil water to make coffee or tea, or to cook pasta or steam vegetables. Alternatively, you can use it to heat up leftovers or prepared foods, such as soup and chili.
The beloved cousin to the hot pot is the hot plate. Basically, a hot plate performs all the functions of a burner on a stovetop, while taking up considerably less space than a conventional stove. A hot plate can be used for everything from making pancakes to frying pork chops.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Another handy device for dorm cooking is a rice cooker/steamer combination. Compact and inexpensive, this appliance steams meat, seafood, and vegetables, and it cooks rice and beans more quickly than the standard stovetop heating element. As an added bonus, it has a plastic surface that makes cleaning easy. For students who have a microwave, the addition of a rice cooker/steamer can provide some of the advantages of stovetop cooking, making it unnecessary to purchase a hot plate.
Now before you get all excited about how easy it will be to cook cans of soup and heat up frozen chicken nuggets with your new hot pot and hot plate, take note that quick cooking is not always healthy cooking.
While your hectic schedule will have you tempted to heat up ramen noodles for dinner every night, remember that there's a whole lot more you can do with your college kitchen appliances than make soup from a package. Fresh, natural ingredients such as vegetables and whole-grain pastas will always make more nutritious (and believe it or not, more delicious) meals than you can buy wrapped in plastic at the local 7-Eleven. Let's get started!