Simple, inexpensive, commons-centric recipes

By Erin Cressy

I love to cook and bake, but as a college kid, I sadly lack the time and money to do it constantly, especially when I know there’s food I paid for waiting for me in the Commons every day. For those of us on a meal plan, it’s easy to feel like we’re stuck eating whatever is offered to us, for fear of wasting meals.

However, I’ve recently realized that the Commons offers a lot of food that can be used to make significantly better food with a little assistance from my dorm kitchen.

Here are two simple, inexpensive, Commons-centric recipes that I’ve really enjoyed making and eating over the past few weeks.

Asian-esque Vegetable Noodle Soup

This soup is a delicious, easy dinner on nights when the Commons selection is lacking. Just take home the veggies you need, and throw it together back in your kitchen.

(I make this soup with Japanese soba noodles I buy at home, but since I’ve yet to find them at a Georgetown grocery store, feel free to sub in whole-wheat spaghetti for a similar taste and texture.)

2 oz. soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1-2 tbsp. soy sauce (or to taste)

2-3 thin slices ginger root

¼ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 handful raw broccoli florets (Commons salad bar)

6-8 sliced mushrooms (Commons salad bar)

*If you wish to add other veggies, raw ones work best.*

– Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

– Add vegetable stock, ginger, onion, and garlic to medium-sized pot; bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.

– Add vegetables and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

– Add soy sauce and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes.

– Put noodles in empty bowl. Pour broth and vegetables over noodles; serve.

This recipe serves 1, but can easily be adjusted for more people. It’s almost impossible to mess up, and comes together in about 15 minutes. Oh, and it’s super good.

Accidentally Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

The other day, I had a massive muffin craving. I also had two slightly over-ripe Commons bananas getting lonely on my desk, so I managed to devise a fairly healthy, very yummy solution. It just so happens to not require any dairy or eggs, too—mostly because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store and get them. They don’t seem to need either, though.


1/3 cup vegetable, canola, or olive oil (I used olive)

1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter (swiped from Commons)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 ripe bananas, mashed (thank you, Commons)

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (regular milk, or any other non-dairy milk, is fine)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Oatmeal Streusel Topping (optional, but delicious):

1/3 cup all purpose flour

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp margarine

2 tbsp quick cooking rolled oats (i.e. Quaker)


– Preheat oven to 350.


– Whisk oil, sugar, and peanut butter together. Stir in flour. Then add bananas, milk, vanilla, and nuts if desired. Stir until combined.


– Combine flour, sugar, margarine, and oats together in a small bowl, using a fork. (It’ll be crumbly.)

– Line muffin tins with papers or coat with cooking spray.

– Spoon mixture into tins. (I got 12 muffins with a little batter left over, but my tins were pretty tiny.)

– Sprinkle muffins with streusel topping, as you see fit.

– Bake on 350 for 25-30 minutes. When covered, these will keep for 3-4 days. If they make it till then.