The Daily Illini

Single seriving recipes: Meals in a mug

By Taylor Lucero

I have never successfully used an oven before. In fact, the first and only time I tried cooking a frozen pizza, I ended up getting sick. Because I am a self-proclaimed terrible cook, I usually end up getting fast food, but that quickly gets too expensive. That is why I turned to making meals in mugs.

Pinterest and Buzzfeed have been posting several compliations of recipes, but many other recipe websites are joining the trend as well. And when you’re a college student, these are the perfect meals that save money and time. 

Instead of making an excess amount of food in the oven, microwaving a few ingredients in your favorite coffee mug is an easy way to make individually portioned meals.

Easy microwaved omelet

I was shocked to get this right the first time. Before my experiment, I never made an omelet or even scrambled eggs. This recipe wasn’t too costly because I only had to buy the eggs and the rest I got from my dining hall. 

I didn’t have any measuring cups, so I estimated the amount of cheese and sour cream to put in the mug, as measurements will change depending on the size of the mug you use. Right before I popped the mug into the microwave, my friend warned me about the possiblity of the eggs exploding. Luckily, no such thing happened, and it was a pretty good and quick meal. I found out later that the reason my friend’s recipe went haywire was because she didn’t use cooking spray. Personally, I’m not a big fan of eggs, so this wouldn’t be my go-to recipe. But for those who enjoy omelets and scrambled eggs, I highly recommend it. 

Macaroni and cheese

It’s easy to buy an individual cup of macaroni and cheese at the store, but if you are really price-savvy, there’s another way to get more mac for your money. 

At Walgreens, I compared the price of a 14 ounce box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for $3.29 to a 4.1 ounce cup of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for $2.79. The box of macaroni makes two mugs worth of meals. By spending that extra 50 cents on a box instead of a cup, you can save more in the long-run.

Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t turn out well the first time. I wasn’t paying attention to the mug and came back to find the water boiling over. I had to unplug my microwave and clean up the mess. Despite my precaution, I was mildly shocked when I touched the metal part of the plug. 

Chilaquiles

Again, I used sour cream, shredded cheese (instead of sharp cheddar cheese) and salsa from my dining hall to save money. Why spend extra money when you can get ingredients from your meal plan?

I also added more tortilla chips since the ones I bought were small (and because I really like tortilla chips).

I wasn’t sure if I made it correctly because the bottom of the mug looked like scrambled eggs, but overall, it turned out well. It took around 15 minutes to finish, so this recipe takes a bit of dedication, but it’s worth the effort.

Heavenly chocolate pudding parfaits

If you want to avoid exploding food in the microwave, pudding parfaits are perfect. Instead of a food processor, I just crushed the graham crackers in a plastic bag with a fork. 

I also guessed about how much butter to use. The original recipe called for an entire stick of butter, which I’m assuming was to make more than one cup. Because that’s a ridiculous amount for one person, I just scooped it in until it looked right. 

The contrast between the warm, buttery graham crackers and the cold, smooth pudding and whip cream made the parfait live up to its name.

If I make the recipe again, I’m going to to find pre-made pudding. Mixing pudding from a powder packet with plastic utensils and Tupperware wasn’t my best idea. Despite the time and money, the parfait was okay (I still used way too much butter), and I had plenty of leftover ingredients to make it again.

Chocolate chip cookie

With my newly found cooking confidence, I decided to be adventurous and try my own cookie recipe. I had seen recipes online, but decided to use pre-made cookie dough to save time and money.

I forgot to use cooking spray the first time and put the cookie in for too long, so it ended up burning in the microwave. It wasn’t until the second time that something resembling a cookie turned out.

It wasn’t as good as a cookie made in the oven, as it didn’t get a golden glow and the dough came out tough. However, it is a great pick-me-up for a study snack and a good last-minute sweet tooth fix. It is also a good option for those wanting to spend less, or not wanting to make an entire batch of cookies and risk eating them all at once. 

Through trial and error, making these mug meals boosted my cooking confidence. Preparing food other than popcorn was satisfying, and using the microwave helped me get out of my confort zone in the kitchen.

Taylor can be reached at [email protected]

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