In most minds, dorm room dining does not evoke Instagram-worthy images of nutritious foods. Students typically do not have access to a kitchen and can feel resigned to warming up easy mac or ramen noodles in a microwave or splurging on a fast food delivery order. Yet, with some ingenuity, it’s possible to eat healthy and on a budget from a dorm room. Here are a few simple strategies and recipes from Guiding Stars to help college students eat healthy dorm room meals and snacks without spending all their cash.
Keep healthy snack staples in your room.
It can become difficult to avoid excessive snacking and junk food when meal times are determined by the dining hall schedule. You can avoid trips to vending machines or convenience stores by keeping items like a jar of peanut butter, string cheese, hummus, and whole grain crackers in your room. Make sure to include items from two different food groups in your snacks. No-bake energy bites are easy to make-ahead and will keep you full and satisfied. Our Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bumps can help sustain your energy during a busy week of classes and work. Other simple, but filling snacks include: banana with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or an apple with almond butter. All are fresh grab-and-go options.
Use your meal plan to stock up on fresh fruit.
Most college students are required to purchase a meal plan if they live on campus. Also, the majority of Americans (not just students) do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Grab extra whole fruit when eating at dining halls and save them in your room for a snack. This is an easy way to fit extra fruit into your diet. Try making our simple Fruit Salsa with any fruits you have available for a snack that can be shared with friends.
Sometimes dorm room meals are unavoidable. Be prepared.
Busy days can disrupt your typical eating routine. Avoid skipping breakfast or overspending on less nutritious fast food for dinner by cooking a simple meal in your dorm room. Don’t limit breakfast foods to the morning. Our 5-Minute Multigrain Cereal can be cooked in a microwave and the fiber from the grains will keep you full and focused in classes or while studying in the library.
Pop your own popcorn.
Air popped popcorn never fails when you need a quick snack. Popcorn is a whole grain, is low in calories and has a generous expiration date. Keep some brown paper lunch bags and a container of popcorn kernels on hand to make popcorn in the microwave. How you top your popcorn makes a big difference in the fat and calorie content overall. Check out our seasoning ideas.