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Five Kinds of Foods Every Dorm Room Needs

When you’re on your school’s meal plan it can sometimes feel like you need to eat ALL of your meals in the dining hall. The constraint of using up meal points pressures many students into not buying or keeping “real” food around their dorm rooms. Instead, students pick up quick snacks in the convenience store. Here comes the struggle: these quick snacks are often full of sugar, salt, and fat. Foods like chips, candy, and sodas contain a lot of empty calories, but are lacking in nutritional value. Scarfing down large amounts of these junk foods can lead to weight gain, fatigue, trouble focusing, and moodiness. Not fun.

Fear not! Here’s a list of the five essentials every dorm-dweller should have on hand to keep themselves nourished, happy, and well-fed.

1. Fruit

Fruit is fantastic for snacks and breakfasts. Many fruits, like apples and oranges, travel well and are good for munching on as you rush out the door on your way to class. The carbohydrates in fruit give you a quick boost of energy, so they’re a great option for snacks or when you need something to tide you over until dinner. Other easy fruit ideas include grapes, berries, bananas, or unsweetened applesauce. Be sure to store fruits appropriately and eat them before they go bad. Over-ripe fruits can attract fruit flies, gross!

Pro-tip: Over-ripe or bruised bananas are fantastic to use in banana bread or in smoothies!

2. Protein

When choosing any choosing snacks, adding protein will help you to feel fuller for longer. Protein is also essential for post-workout snacks because it synthesizes muscle growth and repair. Try crackers and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or a granola bar with your Greek yogurt for some winning protein-filled snack combos. Plus, they’re convenient to store and easy to eat on the go!

Pro-tip: Make sure your snacks always include at least two food groups. Fruit and grains, protein and veggies, the combinations are endless!

3. Instant

Sometimes you just want something hot and fast! Instant hot chocolate and instant hot cider mix are quick to whip up and sip while writing a paper, and instant oatmeal or noodles make good pick-me-up meals in the middle of study sessions. While these options aren’t the most nutritionally dense, sometimes convenience wins out. When looking for instant options look for versions made with less sugar or less salt.

Pro-tip: When making Ramen noodles use no more than half of the flavor packet OR use reduced-sodium chicken or veggie broth in place of the flavoring to majorly cut down on salt.

4. Movie Munchies

Whether you’re binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the second time or curling up to watch a chick-flick with your roommates you’re going to want some movie snacks. Microwave-popcorn is a great option, if you choose the “Lite Butter” or “Heart Healthy” varieties. Other great options are tortilla chips and salsa, pita chips, or goldfish. Whenever you can, look for the “whole grain” versions of your favorite snacks.

Pro-tip: Instead of eating out of the bag or box, measure and pour a serving into a bowl and put the rest away. This will help to be more aware of how much you are eating!

5. Drinks

Sodas, bottled coffees, and energy drinks are absolutely full of sugar! If you really need a caffeine boost, try sticking to plain coffee or tea. Single fruit-juices like apple juice or orange juice are decent for when you want to sip something sweet, but pay attention to how much you’re drinking; a serving size is 8 fl oz or 1 cup. If you’re just craving something bubbly, try plain sparkling water with a splash of lemon juice.

Pro-tip: When you are thirsty, turn to water, cow’s milk, or unsweetened soy or nut milk. They are the best for rehydration.

Being mindful of the foods you keep around can help you reach for the healthier options when you need something to snack on. Making smart food choices will help you feel more energetic and give you the brain and muscle power you need to get through your day—every day!

Natalie Nation is a second-year Dietetics major at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She enjoys swing dancing, Netflix, American Sign Language, and the color purple. Natalie has her own food and recipe blog at cutecollegecook.com.
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