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Barracks Problem: All I have is a fridge and a microwave.


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Hey. Sorry this is long. I have a lot to say. If you want to cut to the chase, I won't be offended if you skip to the bottom.
I really want to adopt a Paleo lifestyle, but I have a dilemma. A big one.


The LONG Version:  I live in a tiny barracks room. Yes I'm a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, active duty. When I say "tiny barracks room" think college dorm. Or smaller. I have one room key that opens to a shared bedroom with two beds. I can see my roommate's bed from my bed. There is no room divider. She has to walk past the foot of my bed and in front of the refrigerator (simultaneously) to get to her bed. We share a bathroom with a tiny sink, a toilet and a shower. There is no bath tub, since there's not enough space for one. (Our bathroom is basically a closet.)


I have a small bathroom sink which is big enough to wash my hands and maybe wash some cups and silverware. Washing a pot or pan in there is out of the question as it wouldn't fit. I don't have a counter to prepare foods (even the bathroom counter has only 10 inches of counter space on each side), so I have to use my nightstand or the top of my dresser. (My hand slipped today and I got avocado all over my printer. Not so great.)

I have a microwave and a refrigerator that I share with my roommate. I am no stranger to restrictive eating choices in adverse situations. I was a vegan for about 18 months in high school and refused to eat processed foods during or after that stint. Unfortunately my military career changed my food choices by necessity, as I was required to eat in a chow hall three times a day for six months. So far I've been eating my foods mostly raw, like vegetables, or finding "stupid food" that is quick to make while still being healthy. Don't get me wrong. I have changed my eating habits already but it's extremely difficult when you LITERALLY can't cook anything. I think there may be a community stove (the oven is broken) in our barracks common area, but I would have to carry all of my supplies over there to cook anything so I'd want to prepare a lot at once, maybe for a whole week at a time. I don't have a lot of time to cook anyway since I work 12 hours a day 5 days a week, sometimes more.


Another problem is that I'll be going out to do a field training exercise next week. I'm not sure who here is familiar with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) but there is no actual food in them. They provide carbohydrates, chemicals, colors, flavoring, additives, preservatives and salt. There is very little to no nutritional value in any of them and they're based on wheat products. They will be my only (ONLY) source of food for seven days while we essentially "camp out." If I can't find anything good to bring with me that will be easy to carry and last a week, I may just not eat when I'm out there. I'd rather be hungry (or "fasting" maybe. perhaps I can meditate on the standard American diet...) than saturated in chemicals, bloated and stopped up inside.




TLDR: I need resources for recipes or food in general that I can live off of in one or both of two scenarios.
1) I have no place to cook food other than a microwave and can't change that for the next year.  I need simple foods and/or recipes I can mass-prepare for a week (or more) at a time.
2) I will be in the field and need a week's worth of non-perishable lightweight food, or I may not eat at all.


Any input is appreciated. I'm really just open to having a discussion about this because there are so many cook books and websites with dozens of recipes that would take forever to sort through. I plan on doing that eventually, time permitting, but any advice or comments are welcome.


--- Level 1 Cyborg Ranger ---


2.0 STR | 2.0 DEX | 1.5 STA | 3.0 CON | 3.5 WIS | 3.0 CHA

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.â€

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Beef jerky and tuna pouches can be your friends in the field. Light weight and should fit in your cargo pockets. Not too different than an MRE pouch. Maybe some little baggies of spices to change it up too?

In the barracks, that's tougher. Frozen veg that steam in the bag in the microwave are good. Can you have a George Foreman grill? You'd be amazed what you can cook on those - just about any meat, grilled veggies, bacon. An electric kettle can do more than just boil water - as long as you clean it out you can use it almost as a stove top.

Just a start, and I'm sure others will have more to add. I feel your pain - I did 10 years in the navy, and wish I'd known then what I know now about healthy eating. Good luck to you!

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That's good advice. I was thinking jerkey and tuna and the like. It's a bit expensive but it will have to work. We're not allowed to have "heating elements" in our barracks such as space heaters or grills, but people have them anyway so I may be able to figure something out.

--- Level 1 Cyborg Ranger ---


2.0 STR | 2.0 DEX | 1.5 STA | 3.0 CON | 3.5 WIS | 3.0 CHA

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.â€

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That's good advice. I was thinking jerkey and tuna and the like. It's a bit expensive but it will have to work. We're not allowed to have "heating elements" in our barracks such as space heaters or grills, but people have them anyway so I may be able to figure something out.

But you have a common cooking area, right? Can you keep it in your space and just use it out there? You can always cook a bunch at once and portion it out in the fridge for microwaving later.

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I can't help you with food for the field. I spend ~70% of the year on hotels with a similar setup. I found a contraption at a wal-mart that makes omelettes in the microwave. I also purchased a microwave bacon cooking plate (I'm still not convinced its better than using a normal plate) and a microwave vegetable steamer. Grand total was about $15. Now I go to the grocery store and make omelettes, bacon, scrambled and poached eggs in the microwave. When I lived in the barracks (Navy, open bay) I used to use my iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches (cotton setting, no steam). I haven't had to do that for a long time, but I bet you could come up with some pretty good ways to put your iron to use. One word of caution: clean the iron before using it on dress whites. 

- Warren

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The only advice I have is about the lack of space (although it's a trick I learned from a military guy).


An ironing board makes a nice bit of temporary/foldaway countertop.  (You can remove the cover first, if you're worried about spills.)

If you get ahold of a big mixing bowl or soup pot or tupperware, you can use that as a "sink" for the rest of your dishes/cookware (on the ironing board, if the sink counter is too small).

This used to be where  my weight loss progress bar was. Maybe it will be here again when I'm ready to face the scale and work on my fat problem.
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interfere with what you can do.

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2013 Running Tally: I lost track in July, at 148.925  ((plus 0.5)) but I finished a Very Slow marathon in October. Then I mostly stopped.
2014 Running Tally: 134.1 miles plus 5k (as of 17 September) lost track again, but I know I had at least 147.2 plus 5k for 2014.
2015 Running Tally: 41.2 treadmilled miles & 251.93 real world miles

2016 Running Tally: 0


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1) You can boil eggs in a kettle (works quite well actually), or make crustless quiche in mugs in the microwave. Ordering a microwave steamer tray might not be a bad idea as they wipe out easily and don't take a lot of room. That way you can do steamed chicken/fish and veggies.


2) Dried fruit, jerky, pouched tuna and chicken. Precook some bacon. Hard cheeses are great too. Depending on climate a couple of hard boiled eggs, for the first 2 days, just let them get really cold then wrap them tightly in clothes to insulate them. No matter what you do the last few days of this week are going to suck though.

Human Adventurer

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I cook a lot at work where there is only a microwave. My basic recipe is like such: Find a deep microwaveable dish and some greaseproof or baking paper. Tear off a larger square and place over dish. Put in meat or fish fillet and diced vegetables, seasoning and herbs and roll/crinkle the paper together at the top so that you have sth like a big Paper Cornish Pastry / big paper half moon shaped bag / sitting in your dish.  It doesn't have to be  airtight but you want some steaming going in inside the paper bag. Microwave for 5-7 mins (fish) or 10-15 mins (chicken breast). 


Favourite combinations are:

* Mackerel fillet + tomato + leeks + one diced sweet potato 

* Chicken breast + cherry tomatoes + 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar + diced mushrooms + basil + 1tbsp olive oil

* Cod fillet with thyme + mushrooms + 1/2 glass of white wine


Once you get the hang of it, go wild. There's kazillions of combinations. If you want to cook whole potatoes or sweet potatoes you have to prick them w a fork lest they explode. I also prick tomatoes, you never know.

Plus it's more eco-friendly than plastic steamer bags and hardly any washing up is reqired (one knife, one fork, one plate).

Drawback is that you have to be able to go shopping ca 2x a week for fresh meat + fish and store it all in your fridge.


Hope this helps.


PS If you have a frige/freezer that makes it so much easier, just throw in frozen chicken breat / fish fillet everyday. If you want you can chop all the veg on a Sunday for the coming week using a big chopping board on your lap / bed. Vitamin loss is still minor when compared to SAD. 

Level 3 Human Assassin



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hey kiddo...take it from a Marine, the field is easy! Jerky and tuna...it gets old, but it works...also pack some cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Drink lots of water, and bring a TRX, so you can workout and get your mind off of food.

In the barracks...it's tricky, but since I spend a little time away from home, living in the same kinds of conditions, and my wife isn't there to cook for me, here is what you do.

Breakfast: Chop veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives) and put in ziplock resealable sandwich bag with 2 beaten eggs...put in microwave...TADA!!! Omlete! Add some BACON!!! and you got healthy breakfast!

Lunch and Dinner:

Get you some dry spices, skinless chicken breast, and frozen veggies. Then buy the ziplock steamer bags.

I put the chicken in the bag, put it in the microwave, steam it...when it starts to thaw and cook, take it out, add seasoning, finish steaming. place on plate. steam veggies. place on plate. Smile and happily munch on your healthy food as you watch your favorite episodes of Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, or Walking Dead!

Ultimately it comes down to thinking outside of the box. Head over to the PX and get creative! PM me if you need any more help.

Lv 2 Human Assassin
Motto: "Don't give up yet...You've still got a couple of M*therf*ckers to prove wrong!"
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Thanks for all the replies! This is all really helpful.

I have begun making more things in my microwave than I thought was possible before. My favorites so far are plain old eggs in a coffee mug (scrambled so the yolks don't EXPLODE......) and sweet potatoes. They only take 8 minutes. Who knew.

I found this recipe ( http://paleomg.com/sugar-detox-pumpkin-cake-mug-chocolate-sauce/ ) for microwaveable paleo pumkin mug cakes. I modified it to use just one egg and I use canned pumkin and canned coconut milk... it takes three minutes to make, and it's delicious... and... I'm in love.


It's pretty tough making do with the space that I have here but it's working. The cooking aspect has gotten MUCH easier, and I'm utilizing the shared kitchen downstairs more often since there's a stove and an oven. The storage issue is starting to become problematic now. My roommate and I share a TINY fridge/freezer, which she has mostly filled with things like boxes of frozen corndogs, popsicles and hot pockets, so there's not a lot of space left. I'm going to try and shove some meats in there. Steamer bags of frozen veggies will not fit unfortunately. 


Dried packaged foods are pretty expensive and full of unnatural preservatives here on post (Oberto?). I'm going to try making my own jerky (etc) and see how it goes.


This is an epic quest in and of itself. I wonder if a lot of college kids who live in dorms have this problem? Well, I'm not sure how many paleo/primal dorm livers there are out there... But once I figure some more things out I may document it... for the greater good! (how heroic.)

--- Level 1 Cyborg Ranger ---


2.0 STR | 2.0 DEX | 1.5 STA | 3.0 CON | 3.5 WIS | 3.0 CHA

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.â€

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Converting to Paleo while in the barracks for school has been one of the most interesting experiences in my life.  I agree with others with the microwave egg and bacon cookers, and the steamer vegetable bags.  I've cooked chicken, steak, bacon on the bacon cooker, to various levels of success, but they are all quite edible.  I am lucky enough to not *exactly* have a roommate right now, so I got a full dorm fridge/freezer/microwave to work with.  Definitely making use of homemade trail mix, craisins, nuts, dried bananas, etc.


As for the field, especially for only a week, I personally just suck it up and suffer through the MRE's.  You can trade stuff with other people to get the most Paleo-ish stuff available, but that's because I'm cheap.  If you're willing to pay for it, the tuna and jerky is a good idea, with lots of hydration.  And trail mix.


Last, the chow hall definitely has... questionable ingredients (all purpose meat!), but again, laziness/cheapness sometimes prevails and a careful selection of what is available that day will provide a paleo-ish meal with little effort.  Breakfast, I've found, is your best bet for that because it's hard to de-paleo bacon and eggs.


Good Luck!  Definitely not an easy task as I've found out the past few weeks.


Semper Fidelis!

Level 1 Nord Ranger

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I found this recipe ( http://paleomg.com/sugar-detox-pumpkin-cake-mug-chocolate-sauce/ ) for microwaveable paleo pumkin mug cakes. I modified it to use just one egg and I use canned pumkin and canned coconut milk... it takes three minutes to make, and it's delicious... and... I'm in love.


I LOVE this recipe!!

Glad you're having some luck. And talk to your roommie about sharing some of the freezer space!

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I'm in the U.S. Army Infantry, and myself and 2 others in my batt eat paleo. However, when we go to the field, we simply eat the MRE's. You're going to eat them on deployment, and when you go to the field you are training for a war environment. They're not as bad as you think, many have a good degree of protein and the salt helps with water retention, and I don't know what your MOS is but when 11B's are in the field it's a struggle to stay hydrated. The field also generally equals a severe lack of sleep since we need to pull security all night, so there's another hit to your fitness. You're also not working out well (us three do CrossFit, and in the field we get wiped doing all kinds of stuff, but it's still not a gym). Basically, embrace the experience and eat MRE's. You might get rid of a few products in them, but it's usually better to eat just about all of it, unless your job is extremely POG, since you'll burn through the carbs anyway. When you come out of the field, you need about a week to get back on track with the diet and workout regimen, but when you're in the field, just abandon it. Now, if you're going to the field for just 1 all day range, or maybe 2 days, then those paleo MRE's are handy, but I wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars on them for a week supply, plus, like I said, you won't get that stuff in Afghanistan, or even during a 30 day FTX for that matter. 


When it comes to eating in the barracks, all you need is one frying pan and a Foreman grill. Use that cooking area you must have, don't be so POGishly lazy ;). You workout hard and you are dedicated to your diet, what's maybe an hour of cooking on a Sunday or something? Listen to music or a Podcast and cook your food for the week, then you can just nuke it when it's time to eat. Meanwhile, the DFAC isn't ideal, but I usually find fairly paleo meals there if I stick to the meat/poultry and vegetables/salad. The DFAC is alright in a pinch. A few less than ideal meals because of military life won't derail you.


Good luck, especially if you're in Korea, because with those kinds of living arrangements it sounds like it. In the States you almost always get your own room. 

tl;dr is how I roll

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I'm basically living in a hotel 80% of the time right now, and one thing that has made a HUGE difference for me was getting a toaster oven. I know that both space and rules are more restrictive for you, but is there any chance you can sneak one in? This might make less difference for you, since it sounds like you have access to a small kitchen with a stove, but having an oven, even a tiny one, adds a ton of new options (just being able to bake eggs on veggies has been magical for me, but ymmv if you are not a huge egg lover). 

It sounds like you're doing well in spite of the numerous challenges of your situation, so keep it up and good luck with everything!

Level 4 Adventurer

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If it's the Army, or really any branch I wouldn't sneak anything in. That's an Article 15 NJP, if caught, and take it from me, it's super easy to catch these things, and would carry between 7-45 days of extra labor (work from 5 am until 11 pm, that's one way to destroy your fitness and nutrition) and restriction to compound. That's not worth the risk, no one should sneak in anything into barracks. That said, you might be able to notify your chain of command of such an item, and they may allow you to keep it in your room, but only to use in the cooking area. 


Also, with rank comes responsibility, I have my own stove, oven, everything now, so that should spur people to seek special duty assignments where amenities may increase with increased responsibility, and higher rank (especially becoming an officer or warrant officer). 

tl;dr is how I roll

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