10 Simple Lunches You Can Prepare in Your Pantry

Imagine this: Lunch time is here again – but maybe it’s raining, or you’re in a lazy mood and you don’t want to go out to buy your food. Wouldn’t it be great if you could whip up something quick and tasty right in the pantry of your residence?

Fret not, all of us at Reslife know exactly what that feels like.  We’ve done the research for you and now, we present 10 simple dorm-friendly lunch recipes that the most beginner of chefs can follow. What’s great is that these recipes use easily sourced ingredients (that can be found at Clementi NTUC or Sheng Siong) and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes – perfect for the busy and very hungry NUS student.

Let’s get cooking!


  1. Aglio e Olio

Source: Binging with Babish

Probably the easiest of pastas to make, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans, this Aglio e Olio will be ready in just 10 minutes. Feel free to customise it and add in other ingredients to your liking as well!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

2 cloves of garlic, separated and peeled

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

1/4 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heavily salt a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta until slightly underdone while completing the steps below.
  2. Slice the garlic cloves thinly, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until barely shimmering.
  4. Add sliced garlic, stirring constantly, until softened and turning golden on the edges. Add the red pepper flakes and lower the heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the pasta, drained, with about 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice over top, and mix into the pasta with the fresh parsley. If the sauce is too watery, continue to cook for 1-3 minutes, until pasta has absorbed more liquid.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.


Adapted from: Binging with Babish


  1. Spaghetti Bolognese

Source: Erren’s Kitchen

If you’re looking for a more classic pasta dish, Spaghetti Bolognese is the way to go. This simple but delicious recipe is sure to hit the spot for any spaghetti lover.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 large onion finely chopped

113.4g (½ cup) ground beef

1 crushed tomato

1 clove garlic chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

1/4 tablespoon dried oregano (optional)

Grated parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  4. Add the ground beef; fry until fully cooked and no pink shows at all in the meat (about 8 minutes).
  5. Add the oregano (optional) and tomato paste and mix with the meat.
  6. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Season with the salt and pepper.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for at least 15 minutes (you can cook longer for a deeper flavor).
  8. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain and serve topped with the sauce and cheese (optional).


  • Seasoning the meat with salt and pepper adds an extra kick of flavour which is key to speeding up the cooking time of this sauce.
  • Make this sauce your own by adding whatever fresh or dried herbs of your choice or even some red wine which can be added and cooked down before adding the tomatoes.
  • When adding the dried oregano, try rubbing it between your palms to release maximum flavour.
  • Use good quality tomatoes when shopping for ingredients – don’t skimp, the better quality the tomatoes, the better the sauce will be.
  • If you have the time, simmering the sauce for longer will add a deeper flavor.


Adapted from: Erren’s Kitchen


  1. Carbonara

Source: Jamie Oliver

Creamy carbonara can taste like a gourmet meal, but it actually can be made quite easily! If the previous two pastas are not to your liking, perhaps this simple carbonara recipe will win your heart.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

3/4 tbsp. salt

2 strips of bacon

1 egg

Black pepper

½  Tbsp.  olive oil

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

30 g Parmesan cheese , plus extra for grating


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
  2. Slice the bacon in ¼ inch strips and place in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with half a tablespoon of olive oil and a really good pinch of black pepper. Leave it to get super-golden and crispy, flipping occasionally, then turn off the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg in a bowl, then finely grate in the Parmesan and mix well.
  4. Transfer your pasta straight into the pan and toss with the bacon.
  5. Pour the Parmesan eggs into the pan, and keep everything moving, loosening with splashes of the pasta cooking water until you have a silky sauce. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot otherwise the eggs will scramble.
  6. Plate up the pasta, and finish with an extra grating of Parmesan.


Adapted from: Jamie Oliver


  1. Pesto Chicken/Mushroom Mug Microwave Pasta

Source: Sweet Peas and Saffron

Don’t want the hassle of washing your pots and pans after cooking? This microwavable mug pasta is for you. It’s easy to make, easy to clean up, and most importantly – it tastes great!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

½ cup pasta (macaroni, fusili or penne)

1 cup water

pinch salt

1.5 tablespoons pesto

½ cup cherry tomatoes halved

½ cup spinach torn

½ cup cooked chicken breast (cubed) OR sliced cooked mushrooms

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (or any cheese, square slices work too)

pinch red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Place the pasta and ⅔ cup of water in a meal mug. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place a paper towel under the mug, and heat on high (NO LID) for 5 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  3. After the 5 minutes is up, stir the pasta and add the remaining ⅓ cup of water. Heat for 2-3 more minutes (NO LID), or until pasta is cooked through.
  4. Stir in the pesto until pasta is coated. Add in the tomatoes, spinach and chicken/mushrooms, then microwave on high for 30 seconds-1 minute (LID ON), until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are soft.
  5. Stir in the cheese, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and enjoy!


  • For Vegetarians, here’s how you can quickly cook mushrooms in just a microwave:
    • Place thickly sliced mushrooms in a microwave-safe bowl.
    • Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once.
  • For Non-Vegetarians, here’s a simple chicken breast/thigh recipe if you have no cooked chicken on hand:
    • Ingredients: 1 chicken breast/thigh, dried basil, salt, pepper, 2 tsp oil
    • Steps: Season chicken thighs with dried basil, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and sear on both sides until golden brown, cooked through and no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
  • Alternatively, if you’re in a residence that offers a dining hall, use a meal credit to get extra chicken, or side dishes that might be served during breakfast/lunch!
  • If not, you can choose to skip the chicken or replace it with ham/sausage/luncheon meat.


Adapted from: Sweet Peas and Saffron


  1. Japanese Curry Rice

Source: NoobCook

Japanese curry is delicious, and thanks to the sale of instant curry sauces in most supermarkets, you can now make it easily on your own too! Add some rice, carrots, chicken and potatoes, and you will have yourself a classic Japanese dish.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 boneless chicken fillet cut to large chunks

¼ large onion roughly chopped

1/4 potato peeled and cut to small chunks

1/2 carrot peeled and cut to small chunks

250ml water

25g of instant Japanese curry sauce (1 cube if using S&B brand)

1 bowl of leftover cooked rice


  1. Heat oil in a saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken chunks and stir until golden brown, cooked through and no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add onions to the same pot and cook on medium heat until they are soft and translucent.
  3. Add potatoes, carrots, browned chicken and water. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
  4. Add the instant Japanese curry cubes and stir through until they are dissolved. Adjust the consistency of the curry (simmer for a few more minutes if too watery; add water if the curry is too thick).
  5. Serve curry with rice


  • If you don’t have a rice-cooker or leftover rice, this is how you can cook rice:
    • Measure ½ cup of rice. Put the rice in a pot, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Let the rice soak for 15-20 minutes on the counter. Once the rice has soaked, drain off the water it was soaking in. You should now just have a pot of soaked rice.
    • Add ½ cup of fresh water and pour it into the pot (for brown rice, add a little more water).
    • Put the pot over the stove on medium high heat. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for around 10-15 minutes (white rice) or 20-25 minutes (brown rice). And that’s it!


Adapted from: NoobCook (Jap Curry) and The Woks of Life (Rice)


  1. Vegetarian Microwave Mushroom Risotto

Source: Taste

Here’s another microwavable meal for those who would rather not use the stove. This microwave risotto is fully vegetarian can also be customised with various ingredients to your liking – remove the leek, add carrots instead, add eggs – you’re the chef!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

60g butter, chopped

1 leek, halved, washed, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup arborio rice

3 cups mushroom broth (or any other chicken-stock substitute)

400g mushrooms, sliced (we used Swiss brown cups, buttons, shiitake)

50g parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


  1. Add butter, leek and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover loosely with paper towel. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 2 minutes or until leek is soft.
  2. Add rice. Stir to coat in butter mixture.
  3. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH (100%) for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups stock.
  4. Cover and microwave on HIGH (100%) for 5 minutes, followed by 7 minutes on MEDIUM (50%).
  5. Stir in mushrooms and remaining stock. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for a further 7 minutes. Let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
  6. Add parmesan, parsley and remaining butter. Season with pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon into bowls. Serve.


Adapted from: Taste


  1. Upgraded Instant Noodles

Source: Omnivores Cookbook

Everyone knows instant noodles and university students are inseparable. However, eating plain instant noodles alone probably makes for one of the least nutritious meals out there. Here are a few additional ingredients you can use to upgrade your instant noodles and make it more of a meal and less of the bare minimum to keep you alive.

Bacon & Eggs

Right before you take your cooked instant noodles off heat, crack in an egg for poaching. Turn off the heat and let it cook with the lid on for about two minutes before tossing in some chopped fried bacon. You could also choose to add in hard-boiled eggs instead.

Sliced cheese squares

After your ramen has cooked, place a couple cheese slices (no such thing as too much cheese) on top and let it melt!

Luncheon Meat & Sausage

Spam, sausage, or whatever protein you still have in your pantry – bring it out and fry it up! You can drop it in your steaming bowl of instant ramen for added flavour, or have it on the side.  Vegetarians: we hear that Omnimeat is a fine alternative for luncheon meat!

Frozen vegetables

If you happen to have frozen vegetables, or any vegetables for that matter (eg. carrots, peas, spinach, broccoli, etc.), you can toss it in and cook it with your ramen. Added fibre is always good!


Source: Klook


  1. Microwavable Loaded Baked Potatoes

Source: Recipe Runner

Calling all potato lovers – this delicious loaded baked potato is sure to satisfy your stomach!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 large potato (or 2 small potatoes), skin scrubbed clean

1/4 cup low fat cottage (or feta) cheese

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any other cheese)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

¼ green onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of paprika (optional)

Pinch of black pepper

1 strip of bacon, cooked and diced (Vegetarians: Replace this with omnimeat or cooked mushrooms!)


  1. Pierce the potato all over with a fork then place in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 5-6 minutes, then turn them over and microwave again for another 5-6 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking add all the remaining ingredients to a bowl and toss together until combined, forming a cottage cheese mixture
  3. When the potatoes are done cooking, split them open with a knife and spoon the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the top of each one.


Adapted from: Recipe Runner


  1. Fried Noodles

Source:  Yummieliciouz Food Recipes

This recipe may be a little on the unhealthy side, but once in a while, you might need to satisfy your craving for fried noodles, so let us show you how!


1 pack of Instant Noodles (Can use Maggi/Indomie)

Seasoning (Dark Soy sauce, Salt, Pepper, can replace with seasoning packet of instant noodles)

1 tbsp Oil

2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped

2 Eggs

Additional toppings of your choice (Suggestions: bacon/sausages)



  1. Boil water and cook noodles according to packaging instructions
  2. Crack and beat eggs into a bowl, season with a pinch of salt
  3. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat
  4. Fry garlic in oil until slightly golden-brown
  5. Fry any additional toppings of choice until almost fully cooked
  6. Add in eggs and stir in the pan
  7. Add in noodles when eggs start to turn solid
  8. Add in seasoning as desired (recommended: whole seasoning packet from instant noodles, or Dark soy sauce, pepper, and salt to taste)
  9. Continue cooking until everything is fully cooked.


Recipe contributed by Ryan Cheung, a Y4 Linguistics Major and resident from the College of Alice and Peter Tan


  1. Vegan Soba Noodle Salad with Edamame Beans

Source: The Cheap Lazy Vegan

This Soba Noodle Salad is 100% vegan-friendly and delicious – what’s better is that it can be easily whipped up in just 10 minutes. Skip the cup noodles and make yourself this healthy lunch on your busy days.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 serving soba (buckwheat) noodles

1/2 bell pepper

1/2 carrot

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame beans, thawed

Sauce recipe:

1/2 tbsp soy sauce or equivalent

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar


1/2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


  1. Cook noodles according to instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, chop bell pepper and carrots in thin, long pieces
  3. In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients together until well-combined.
  4. When noodles are done cooking, drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
  5. Add noodles, veggies and sauce into a bowl and mix well.
  6. Top with toasted sesame seeds and green onion and you are ready to devour!


  • For added protein, consider mixing in some tofu cubes – here’s a tofu recipe you can use:
    • Heat a pan over medium heat and add 1tbsp olive oil, 200g tofu and 1tbsp soy sauce.  Cook tofu until browned and crispy.  It doesn’t take long at all! (Source: SheLikesFood)


Adapted from: The Cheap Lazy Vegan


Give these recipes a shot and do tag us on IG @nusresidentiallife if you make them! Are there other dorm-friendly lunches you love cooking? Tell us in the comments or DM us on our IG. Happy cooking! 😊

Bethany Low

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