College Lunch

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.

Microwave Ready

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.

Build-a-Meal

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.

Dorm-Ready Recipes

5-Minute Multigrain Cereal

5-Minute Multigrain Cereal

Three Guiding Stars iconThree Guiding Stars indicate the best nutritional value. Use the microwave to make this quick, whole-grain cereal.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Cucumber Bites

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Cucumber Bites

One Guiding Stars iconOne Guiding Stars indicate good nutritional value. Packaged hummus makes these cucumber bites simple.

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Peanut Butter, Banana & Raisin Sandwich

Peanut Butter, Banana & Raisin Sandwich

Two Guiding Stars iconTwo Guiding Stars indicate better nutritional value. Pair peanut butter with fruit for a delightful sandwich.

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Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Sandwich

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Sandwich

One Guiding Stars iconOne Guiding Stars indicate good nutritional value. Use pre-packaged roasted beets to make this dorm-friendly.

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