13 Comfort Foods to Make Before You Leave For College Because Cafeteria Food Is Just Sad

Let me tell you a secret about college. It may be a chance to meet new people and learn new things; it might be the best time of your life or the worst — but this much is certain: you’re in for a whole lot of strange, semi-edible, and otherwise questionable food. You will, for example, try the cafeteria goulash and barely survive. There will be nights when you eat nothing but popcorn, washed down cheap vodka from the frat house next door. In a desperate attempt at something respectable, you will even play dress up with your Easy Mac, but it won’t be the same.

Before you leave to face the mystery meat, treat yourself to a hard-earned meal. Sure, you can hack your favorite recipes away from home with a mug and a microwave — but let’s be honest: nothing is quite as magical as your mother’s lasagna, fresh out of the oven, the cheese still bubbling on top. Don’t pack your bags just yet — here are our favorite cozy recipes to cook up one last time.

Image: Averie Cooks

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Before you resign yourself to a life of frozen waffles from the dining hall, whip up a batch of fluffy, blueberry-studded pancakes. Real maple syrup most definitely required. Thanks, Pastry Affair!

Image: A Pastry Affair

Cinnamon Rolls

Life is way better with warm cinnamon buns. Period. Half Baked Harvest has an eggnog-inspired recipe.

Image: Half Baked Harvest

Tomato Soup

Fact: 90% of the food you eat in college will come out of a can. Do better than Campbell’s with this homemade tomato soup from My Name Is Yeh.

Image: My Name Is Yeh

Mac and Cheese

We have a soft spot for Easy Mac, but nothing beats the real thing. Half Baked Harvest breaks it down.

Image: Half Baked Harvest

White Wine Meatballs

No, the Swedish meatballs at IKEA don’t count as a home-cooked dinner. Lady and Pups has the real deal.

Image: Lady and Pups

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Just try to be sad about dorm food with a fried chicken drumstick in hand. See? Impossible. Tucker shows us how it’s done.

Image: Tucker

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Most things are better with meat wrapped in tortillas and smothered in cheese — including those pre-college blues. Thanks, Averie Cooks!

Image: Averie Cooks

Lamb Pot Pie

Ah, pot pie. It’s the beacon of comfort food — because really, what’s not to love about puff pastry and braised lamb? Across the pond, Tucker has the scoop.

Image: Tucker

Beef Pho

We know, we know. What ever happened to good ol’ chicken noodle? Trust us — pho is better. Packed with herbs and aromatics, this recipe from What Liberty Ate will bring you to your knees.

Image: What Liberty Ate

Spinach Lasagna

Pasta. Cheese. Tomato sauce. More cheese. Lasagna is everything that is right in the world, all in one baking pan. Pinch of Yum gives the classic a healthier, spinach-filled twist.

Image: Pinch of Yum

Chicken Adobo

Unless you grew up in a Filipino household, you probably missed out on the wonders of adobo. The good news? It’s not too late. For this recipe, our friends at Crepes of Wrath bring out the slow cooker.

Image: Crepes of Wrath

Skillet Steak

You won’t be having too many steak dinners in your dorm room — so make this one count. A Better Happier St. Sebastian pairs their steak with potato gratin and kale salad.

Image: A Better Happier St. Sebastian

Double Chocolate Brownies

Be still, my beating heart. Since no meal is complete without dessert, whip up these decadent brownies — and take some with you to remind you of home. Thanks, Oh, Ladycakes!

Image: Oh, Ladycakes