Why Every Student Needs A Rice Cooker

If you've had the pleasure of chowing down at a college dining hall, you've clearly experienced your share of fat, salt, and processed foods, from breakfast through after-dinner sweets. Sure, many cafeteria-style canteens offer salad bars, but it's the greasy chicken fingers, cheesy pizzas, juicy burgers, oily pastas, and lifeless vegetables that are the most popular, and the most gluttonous.

If you've got the space in your dorm room or campus domicile, consider the rice cooker, an electric countertop appliance that boasts a large, nonstick cooking pot, thermometer for regulating the pot's internal temperature, and tight-fitting lid. Aptly named, rice cookers are designed to cook rice perfectly every time. But the device operates much like a slow cooker, with the option to raise the temperature much higher, so its capabilities reach far beyond the little white grain.

The rice cooker can be a godsend in your makeshift kitchen. The multipurpose machine can transform your simple side of rice to a hearty entrée that's enriched with vegetables, legumes, and meat. Additionally, rice cookers can whip up rice-free dishes like eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, steamed fresh vegetables, soups, stews, and even desserts.

Make room for a rice cooker and dining options are endless

Some assert that rice cookers can be used throughout the day — from your morning eggs to dorm room shrimp scampi for dinner — and you'll avoid the hassle of communal kitchen cleanup.

While rice cookers are designed to flawlessly steam or boil rice, the versatility of the appliance is pretty impressive. Rice cookers not only dish up picture-perfect rice, but they can also be used to cook a variety of other grains (including quinoa and barley), as well as cheese and pepperoni pizzas, country-style ribs, fluffy frittatas, creamy macaroni and cheese, moist cakes, hearty chilies, steamed dumplings (using the steamer basket), and enough flapjacks for your entire friend group.

Some claim the rice cooker can be used for steamed vegetables, chocolate fondue, steamed artichokes, fruit-studded oatmeal, and mashed potatoes. It can (and should) be utilized for hard and soft-cooked eggs, polenta, risotto, Asian chicken and vegetable dishes, chicken curry, taco soup, and jambalaya.

Lifehacker suggests adding vegetables and meat or tofu to the rice (while it steams in the cooker) to create a hearty, balanced meal in one pot. The site also reveres the rice cooker for its ability to soften beans and lentils, poach fruit, make hummus, and create tapioca pudding, cheesecake, banana bread, and hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in your room during finals? Yes please.