Have you ever been sitting in your dorm and you suddenly realize that you are starving but there’s nothing to eat—just some random scraps left over from your Trader Joe’s trip two weeks ago? Well, let me tell you that I have been in that exact situation many times, and I have sort of become a master at whipping up something out of nothing. You do need certain staples, so make sure you have some of these ingredients (if not all):
1. Nut butter: Personally, I am partial to a jar of almond butter, but any kind works. Nut butter is so versatile, and it adds a lot to whatever you add it to. It’s also a great source of protein, and it’s pretty filling.
2. Chocolate Chips: Keep a bag of chocolate chips in your room, trust me. Any time you just want something a little sweet, sprinkle a few on top, and bam. They go good with so many things, or by themselves.
3. Honey: Sometimes you’re not necessarily hungry, but you still want something sweet, and honey is the perfect thing to mix into a warm cup of tea.
4. Rice Cakes: They’re really simple, you can dress them up or eat them plain, and they’re super versatile! If you want something sweet, spread some nut butter on it, add some chocolate chips, and you’re set. If you’re craving something more salty, put some avocados on top and sprinkle some everything but the bagel seasoning.
5. Oats: Oats are so underrated. There are so many things you can make with them! Mix them with some nut butter, chocolate chips and honey, and you have protein balls. Pour some milk over them, put them in the microwave and cut up some fruit on top, and you have a nice bowl of oatmeal. You can even blend and bake them, and you have some baked oatmeal that tastes like cake if you close your eyes. Overnight oats are amazing too—and great for those who like to meal prep.
6. Fruit: OK, this might seem obvious, everyone should have some fruit, but it really is important. If you aren’t able to eat fruit before it goes bad, try dried fruit (it lasts longer). Frozen fruit is good for smoothies. Fresh fruit goes great with yogurt.
7. Dip: I am generalizing and saying dip because there are a lot of different types. Just make sure to always have one in your fridge. Crackers, veggies, fruits, they all could do with a little spicing up sometimes, and dip is the perfect addition. One of my favorite combinations is baby carrots with the Trader Joe’s spicy hummus dip.
8. Tea/Coffee: I know everyone loves their daily Starbucks, but that can get expensive. As college students, the more financially-friendly option would be to make our own drinks at home. Buying tea bags and cold-brew coffee is a great (and cheap) replacement, plus you can customize it as much as you want.
9. Cinnamon: This isn’t really something you can eat on its own, but it’s a great addition to lots of things. Plus cinnamon has lots of benefits for the body.
10. Nuts: I love pistachios (I ate a 3 pound bag over the span of a couple of weeks.) But nuts are super good, you can pack them and throw them in your bag as a snack for later, and they are pretty filling.
Some of my favorite recipes using these ingredients are:
Rice cake with almond butter and chocolate chips;
Vanilla yogurt with cinnamon and chocolate chips;
Rice cake with avocado and nuts;
Almond flour crackers and spicy hummus;
Microwaved oats with almond butter, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and a banana cut up on top;
Chia seeds with almond milk in a jar, left in the fridge overnight and eaten with fruit the next morning;
Black tea with almond milk and honey (and cinnamon);
Dates with almond butter and chocolate chips (“Nature’s Snickers”).
Those are lots of ideas for your next grocery run—be sure to try some of them out and experiment! A lot of these are customizable too, so don’t be afraid to change them to include whatever you have in your fridge. For people with dietary restrictions, these recipes are pretty inclusive as well. You can use non-dairy milks, gluten-free ingredients, and add vitamins if need be (personally I have found that oatmeal disguises the taste of certain vitamins pretty well!)
Honestly, the entire process is pretty hit or miss, sometimes your creation doesn’t turn out how it looked in your head, and that’s OK. That’s happen to me, and worst case scenario, going to Panera isn’t a bad plan-B in my book.