What follows are three delicious, easy recipes for broke kids with no gear, no money, and no time.
Bacon Banh Mi
Pickling daikon and carrot for a traditional banh mi, while simple, is usually enough to keep me from making these Vietnamese sandwiches; I took a cue from Sok Sab Bai's Cambodian sandwich—the spitting image of a banh mi, but better—and used dill pickles instead. The spicy peanut butter sauce adds a more complex richness than mayonnaise alone, and, as with any banh mi, pork and fresh cilantro are critical.
SANDWICH: White sandwich roll, oblong; four slices bacon; 1 dill pickle, cut into thin planks; fresh cilantro; 1 fresh jalapeño, sliced thin; Fresh cucumber, sliced thin; shredded carrot. DRESSING: 1 heaping tbsp peanut butter; 1 heaping tbsp mayonnaise; 1 tsp soy sauce; 1 tsp Sriracha.
Microwave peanut butter for 30 seconds, or until just softened. Stir in the mayonnaise, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Split the roll lengthwise and slather this on both sides.
Lay the bacon flat, wrapped in two layers of the paper towels. Microwave on a plate for three and a half minutes, until cooked, but not shattering-crisp.
Into the roll, layer a bed of cilantro, then stack the pickles, bacon, carrot, cucumber, and jalapeño.
"Salad bar" is a misnomer. Those cafeteria tubs are your own personal prep bitch, providing vegetables, legumes, cheeses, and aromatics for soups, stews, stir-fries, and pasta sauces. Here, Top Ramen—as central to higher education as Mexican Sudafed and parking tickets—gets classed up with a genuine, fragrant court-bouillon, and you can toss the seasoning packet. It's not Biwa, but it's also not $10, or an MSG kidney hammer.
INGREDIENTS: Two packets ramen; 4 cups water; mixed salad bar vegetables, enough to fill about the bottom half of a 6" x 6" to-go clamshell (spinach, scallion, celery, onion, cabbage); fresh cilantro, de-stemmed; fresh jalapeño, sliced; 1 tbsp soy sauce; black pepper; ½ tsp Sriracha.
Boil the water, add the noodles, and cook for two minutes. Stir in the vegetables, soy sauce, pepper, and Sriracha, and cook for two more minutes until tender. Transfer to a bowl, top with torn cilantro and jalapeño, and stir.
Look, Timmy. You're dying. The pizza cones, the Doritos, the Wolfschmidt "coffee." Your body needs a vitamin, a precious gram of fiber, a hint of fruit to ward away scurvy. Make this, a simple riff inspired by Oven & Shaker's popular kale salad.
DRESSING: ¼ cup olive oil; juice of ½ lemon; 1 tsp sugar; large pinch salt; tbsp vinegar, preferably champagne; 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced to dust. SALAD: 2 ozs crumbled gorgonzola; 1 grapefruit, sectioned; two handfuls chopped kale (your choice, approx 4 ozs).
Whisk all dressing ingredients together for 30 seconds. Taste and adjust as desired. Pour over salad ingredients, stir thoroughly for 20 seconds or so. A long standing time helps the kale tenderize; this salad will go at least a day without wilting.