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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Food Survival Kit For Your Dorm Room

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Food Survival Kit For Your Dorm Room

College is filled with a range of emotions that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Your parents aren’t there to keep your dorm room stocked with food or cook your favorite meals. So what’s a college student to do?

Noodles? Pizza? Gorge yourself at the cafeteria before heading back to study? NO! You can survive by fueling your body right! Keep your sanity by going to a local grocery store for filling, satisfying, and nutrient-dense foods! Save time and money by doing your homework: look online for sales at grocery stores, make a list, and plan ahead. You’ll thank yourself later when you have to study for finals and your stomach begins to make whale sounds.

Take a drive with your roommate and others in your dorm to stock your room. No car? Take the bus or train! This is a great opportunity to get to know other people and explore your new city. When you all get back, cook a meal together!

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Dorm Room “Kitchen” Essentials:

  • Durable dish wear, ideally tempered glass, that is microwave safe and won’t break, chip or stain. We like Corelle dishware* because you can buy a single place setting, it’s economical and will stand the test of time.
  • 1 bowl, 1 large plate, 1 small plate, coffee mug
  • 2 forks, 2 spoons
  • 1 cutlet knife, 1 butter knife
  • Small rice cooker/Crockpot
  • Small Cutting board
  • Small blender (if allowed)
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Reusable Water Bottle  (bottle cleaner)
  • Storage containers (Glass is a better option, but BPA plastic options are available – 3 small, 2 medium, 1 large)
  • Re-washable sponge (can be washed in laundry or microwave to sanitize)

*Note: You won’t have a dishwasher in a dorm. Less is more when you have to share space. Keep a clean kitchen and prevent foodborne illness, which can be mistaken for the flu.


In season is always cheaper and will be sweeter

  • Bananas, apples, oranges (perfect to keep in your backpack)
  • Dried fruit: (no added sugars) apricots, apples, raisins, dates, strawberries, cranberries
  • Applesauce (low sugar/no sugar added)
  • 100% fruit leather (on sale for those sweet cravings)


  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bag of mixed greens
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Kale chips
  • Low sodium tomato sauce


  • Non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Non-dairy yogurt
  • Non-dairy milk (for soy, if you’re concerned about GMO or pesticides, choose organic; just make sure you choose fortified products for any nut milk)
  • Low fat/Non-fat Milk
  • White cheddar/ American—we like Cabot
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs (6 pack)

Cheese can be high in sodium. Check the nutrition label and compare products.



  • Raw almonds, raw walnuts, raw peanuts, sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, pecans, unsalted peanuts, pistachios (low sodium/unsalted)
  • Almond butter and peanut butter (low sodium/unsalted)

Spices/ Herbs

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Dry Parsley
  • Mrs. Dash or Trader Joe’s 21 Salute
  • Sea Salt


  • Olive oil (store in a cool place)
  • Honey (wipe the outside –you don’t want dorm room ants)
  • Dark Chocolate chips/Semi-Sweet
  • Hummus
  • Kind Bars (when you’re in a time crunch)

Now that you have an idea of what to have in stock, you’re probably wondering: where do I put this all? Store any dry food items at least 6 inches off the floor to keep away from any bugs that may want to eat your food. Ants seem to find everything! Oh, and don’t take over the mini-fridge unless you have one separate from your roommate. Designate a shelf or two to store your things, and label it the day you used it so you know how long it’s been opened. You don’t want to eat stale or expired food.

Having some satisfying options will make you reconsider going to the vending machine and spending $2.00 on an overly-processed snack. Remember to plan ahead! If you know you’ll be busy in the next few weeks, plan a day to check your food stock and go to the store if you think you need extra food to keep you fueled over the next few weeks.   

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