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So you're living in a college/university town with no kosher restaurants. How can you get hot kosher food?

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Unfortunately, I think this is impossible to answer. Every college campus is different. –  Seth J Feb 6 '13 at 22:25
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Is there a Chabad or Hillel on campus? Maybe they can offer advice/food. –  HodofHod Feb 6 '13 at 23:18
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@HodofHod: Feel free to do so. –  unforgettableid Feb 7 '13 at 2:06
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@unforgettableid The only reason I hesitate is that colleges may be different, as there is often a local Jewish campus group which may change a lot. –  HodofHod Feb 7 '13 at 5:37
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@HodofHod: Upon reflection, I think you're right for many reasons. • College students can generally turn to their local food-services department and maybe also Hillel. They often live in housing shared with non-Jews. • Non-students are in a different situation. Non-students might work for a company with a corporate cafeteria that will help them. But they also might not. Non-students also tend to have private apartments with kosher kitchens. And non-students are less likely to be able to go on the Grandma meal plan. • In summary, being in college may indeed change the situation a lot. –  unforgettableid Feb 7 '13 at 6:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Grandma meal plan:

  • Ask your grandmother if she could cook and freeze some kosher food that you could pick up next time you visit. Lots of grandmas derive pleasure from feeding their grandkids.

Campus food services:

  • Ask your campus food services department if they'll bring in kosher meals. Many will: perhaps frozen double-wrapped oven-reheatable airplane meals. The meals may be mediocre and expensive. Try not to pay for a full-semester meal plan in advance: you may not use up all the money.

Cooking:

  • Try really hard to live in a unit where everyone keeps kosher and where there's a kitchen used only for kosher. Rent or share an apartment if necessary.

  • Here are some things you can cook yourself:

    • With hot water from a coffee shop's urn (if kosher), or from an electric kettle (I assume kettles are allowed in a dorm room):

      • Oatmeal.

      • Instant mashed potatoes.

      • Instant soup. (These are often high in salt and fat. The added glutamates improve the taste. Better yet, make your own soup; add glutamate-filled soup powder to the soup, or glutamate-filled soy sauce to the noodles.)

      • Fine couscous pasta.

    • With a rice cooker:

      • Rice, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, chicken, fish, etc.
    • With a toaster:

      • Toast.

      • Cheese on toast. Before making this, turn the toaster on its side.

    • With a toaster oven: (Some aren't much bigger than a toaster.)

      • Toast.

      • Anything baked: pizza, chicken, fish, potatoes, casseroles, etc. (depending on how you designate/kasher the appliance).

    • With a pot and a metal spoon: (Look around campus and find a non-smoothtop stove. Either gas or conventional electric coil-top is fine. Then ask your rabbi how to kasher an element. Kashering an element usually takes somewhere between five seconds and five minutes to do. Or, buy a portable, plug-in element.)

      • Anything boiled: pasta, eggs, rice.

      • Anything stir-fried: meat, poultry, vegetables.

      • Anything fried: fish, chicken, green tomatoes.

      • Steamed vegetables.

This post is community wiki. Please edit it and add to it.

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The question sought hot food. The answer lists fresh bread, which, yes, is hot to start, but (a) it's not usually eaten still hot and (b) if someone wants hot bread, there are easier ways than by making it (heat bought bread in a toaster for example). –  msh210 Feb 7 '13 at 1:05
    
Also, I'm not so sure you can return a used food appliance, and college students with limited space and funds should generally shy away from single-purpose devices. I'm going to remove it. –  Monica Cellio Feb 7 '13 at 1:13
    
Dear both: Fair advice. Points taken. –  unforgettableid Feb 7 '13 at 2:05

from my experience, I have found 3 solutions:

  1. cook it yourself (assuming you can get raw ingredients that are kosher)
  2. get your food service people to buy you kosher airplane meals and keep them on campus, and heat them up for you at meal hours (I did this for a semester, until I convinced them to let me take the meals back to my dorm so I could heat them up whenever I wanted). Kosher airplane meals range in quality and flavor, depending on the company and how much you want to spend. I never liked having to schlep to the cafeteria (which, at my grad school, was a 5 minute shuttle bus or 15 minute walk away) and then explain (EVERY TIME) who I was and what i wanted to the workers, only to then have to wait 40 minutes to eat a meal. I happen to love the meals but 1 was never enough so when I struck my deal for autonomy in terms of storage and timing, I was much happier.
  3. buy online LaBriut meals (self heating). These meals range in quality (though a person's taste is a personal thing). Some are fleishig, some milchig and some parve/vegetarian and it is nice to have a hot meal within 15 minutes. I also believe that there might be more varieties and possibly brands than when I tried these.

Another option which wasn't around when I was a pup is simply to buy ALL your food online. You can get shipments of meat, fish, cheese and most anything else, kosher, shipped right to your door.

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Thank you for this useful post, and thank you for the edits. One tip: When eating an airplane meal, if you add fruit, bread, toast, or a sandwich, you'll end up more full. –  unforgettableid Feb 7 '13 at 3:00
    
The wait sounds like it was very frustrating. Why did it take 40 minutes for them to heat up an airplane meal for you? At your school, could you phone the cafeteria ahead of time every day? Better yet, could you put in a standing order for the staff to heat up a kosher meal for you at the beginning of every cafeteria shift? –  unforgettableid Feb 7 '13 at 3:06
    
the meals were frozen and took 40 minutes in the oven. If I called ahead, a new person answered each time and had no idea what I wanted. Then, when I got there, I would have t find the exact person I spoke with etc. It was an inexact system. Asking for a standing order demanded that I predict my schedule and know when I would be there. As a grad student, my schedule was highly fluid. –  Danno Feb 7 '13 at 12:41

This doesn't exactly answer the question (the other answers seemed satisfactory), but I thought this might be useful - a map of kosher meal plan/food options on every college in North America: theheart2heartproject.org/koshermap

Some are through Chabad, some are through Hillel, although the majority are through the university's dining services.

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I can't promise this will work, but here's a guide I wrote to help students advocate for kosher food on campus with the university: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Kw10aYHUUPW4dUJqKcYpjWNDSb22wXjF56ZLt5FvroY/edit# Some of the other answers here are also included, but if feasible, getting the university to add kosher food would be so much more simple, useful, and sustainable.

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