Healthy Foods That Keep Well in a Dorm Room

Let’s be honest —  it’s really easy for your food intake to completely plummet in nutritional value when you get to college. Dining halls are full of french fries, pizza and ice cream that you have to walk past to get to the salad bar. They sit there and tantalize you as you contemplate just how important vegetables really are (spoiler alert: very).

And dining halls aren’t the only problem. It’s great to keep snacks in your room for when you can’t make it to the dining hall or just need a little something to hold you over between meals. It’s easy, though, to fall in the habit of stocking up on potato chips and Poptarts and coming to rely on those to get you through the day. They’re typically cheaper than healthier options, after all.

To help anyone who may be wanting to make some changes (if you’re content with potato chips and Poptarts, more power to you!) but doesn’t know where to start, I’ve made a list of relatively healthy and affordable foods that are great to keep in a dorm room. You don’t have to worry about these foods going bad if you don’t use them right away, so they’re low pressure and you won’t be wasting money on food that just ends up in the garbage.

Frozen Fruit

Many of us college students have a freezer — whether it’s part of your mini fridge or it came with your room — so we might as well utilize them. Frozen fruit is a great thing to keep in your room because it can be paired with so many things, or independently makes a great snack for any time of day. 

Most often, I use frozen berries to top yogurt or oatmeal (more on that later). Sometimes I even use them as ice cubes in water. If you have a blender, frozen fruit is also great for making smoothies.

My most recent frozen fruit discovery is “ice cream.” All you have to do is mash up some bananas, mix in whatever toppings you want, stick in the freezer and bam — ice cream. Sure, it’s not the typical creamy consistency of ice cream, but it makes for a nice sweet treat in the evenings. My favorite add-ins are peanut butter and chocolate chips (peanut butter and banana is the best combination, change my mind).

Peanut Butter

Speaking of peanut butter, it’s another great food to keep around. It may not be the most healthy option, but in reasonable amounts — two or three tablespoons, typically — peanut butter offers a healthy dose of protein and monounsaturated fats. It lasts for months in a cupboard and it’s very versatile. Pair it with apples or bananas you’ve swiped from the dining hall (I won’t tell!) or spread it on whole wheat toast or bagels in the morning for a nutritious, filling start to your day.

Oatmeal

Another great DIY breakfast is oatmeal. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not that big of a fan of oatmeal. But I pile mine high with so many toppings that it barely even tastes like oatmeal anymore. Things like brown sugar, honey and cinnamon — along with peanut butter and frozen fruit, if you’re already stocking up — make great toppings and also won’t spoil in your dorm.

I like to make overnight oatmeal, where you mix your oatmeal and all of your toppings in a mason jar the night before, and then all you have to do in the morning is microwave it for a minute or two. Check out some of my tried-and-true recipes here, or experiment with your own!

Pita Chips, Veggie Chips, or Whole Wheat Crackers

Or all of the above. All three of these options deliver that satisfying crunch of potato chips without all the guilt that comes along with it. They’re great to snack on in between meals to keep you energized and focused. Dip them in hummus for a little extra nutrition and to satisfy those chip and dip cravings.

Quinoa/Brown Rice

Both quinoa and brown rice make great bases for meals to cook in your room. They can function on their own as a side dish or can be mixed with any meat/sauce/veggie combination of your choice for a nice full meal. 

I personally love to use quinoa meal prep style, usually mixed with black beans — which also happen to keep well in a dorm —  and topped off with some chicken and veggies. See three great ways to utilize quinoa here.

Have quinoa or rice but can’t use them right away? No worries, they’ll be waiting for your in your cupboard whenever you’re ready to use them.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of healthy foods that are great for college students, but it’s a good place to start. Each of the items on this list are available at Aldi (6221 N. Broadway, just a block from the Granville Red Line stop) for $3 or less.