When it comes to preparing food, college dorm living can seem two steps away from camping. It only worsens when daytime dining hall options are limited to a scarcely stocked canteen or a busy schedule that requires a dorm room to be stocked with actual food. My colleagues have shared dorm room hacks and tips for turning your dorm room into a kitchen. As college students make the move to dorm rooms for another year it’s a good time to revisit these ideas and more.
There’s Always Something
Even the most limited canteen is likely to have something that can be turned into a more wholesome meal. If it’s packaged soup, look for the option loaded with filling beans or vegetables. Shelves of bars? Seek the one with the fewest ingredients, lowest saturated fat, a good amount of protein, and calories that appear appropriate. Get to know the options available in the college canteen and then purchase foods to match to create well-made mini meals. It may take a bit of creative thinking and uncommon pairings, but nutritious options can be created from even the most limited canteen.
Mini fridge…Mini Meals
There are a few staples worth keeping in a mini dorm fridge. Balanced packaged snacks that include nuts, dried fruit, and cheese; individual guacamole and hummus servings; protein-rich yogurt; marinated “ready-to-eat” tofu; and easy vegetables like baby carrots and sugar snap peas are good staples to have on hand. These options pair easily with whole-grain crackers, trail mix, low sugar cereal/granola, and more.
If there’s access to a freezer, include steam in bag veggies or edamame, microwavable egg or grain bowls, and other better-for-you, Guiding Stars-rated, frozen options in your dorm room “kitchen.” Pick up rice pouches and other microwaveable packaged foods that are meals on their own or perfect with other simple staples.
Maybe there is grilled chicken at the canteen that can be used for an interesting wrap or a salad bar that appears to be limited until it’s added to a pita and finished with a delicious dressing or spread. Think outside the box and use what’s available to build a better meal and elevate even the most simple ingredients.