Dorm Fridge and Pantry Must-Haves

by Ellie Rockoff

Adjusting to college living conditions as a person that loves to cook can be shocking and difficult. On-campus dining options are limited, and dining hall food is far from satisfactory. However, there are some staple foods that make healthy eating in college more do-able. This list is composed of basics to help keep your first dorm grocery shop on track, so your cart mainly steers clear of junk foods.

Frozen Foods

Veggie burgers: This is the perfect option for vegetarian students who might struggle with finding adequate and edible protein options in the dining hall. Paired with rice or salad, or served in a wrap, veggie burgers are a versatile and filling option.

Burritos: Amy’s and Trader Joe’s make a variety of frozen burrito options that satisfy carb, protein, and vegetable needs. They are quick to heat up and can be enjoyed alone or with extra vegetables on the side.

Refrigerated Foods

Milk: Almond, oat, soy, coconut, or regular milk are all options that can be used in oatmeal, cereal, and drinks. 

Vegetables/fruit: Understandably, one may be wary of dining hall produce, so storing your carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc is a comfortable and convenient solution – because we all know remembering fruits and vegetables can be difficult in a college environment.

Leftover rice: Of course, Asian take-out is a college staple. The next time you order sushi, Chinese, or Thai, order a side of rice to reheat throughout the week. Rice can always be used as a filling side dish to a salad, in a wrap, mixed into soup, or with cooked veggies/eggs from the dining hall.

Yogurt: Yogurt is a healthy and protein-filled dessert or post-workout snack option, especially for those who get nighttime cravings after eating dinner.

Hummus/dips: Hummus can make eating your vegetables more appealing (and filling), while flavorful dips/sauces can elevate an otherwise plain meal.

Don’t forget a filled Brita is the key to hydration – water is the most important part of your diet!


Nuts/nut butter: Nuts are a perfect snack for on-the-go, or as a topping for oatmeal, yogurt, or granola. There are many nut butter and trail mix options available for those with varied preferences. 

Soup: Sometimes campus food can feel heavy and greasy, so canned soup may be the only appealing option, whether it be chicken noodle, vegetable, or chili. Further, students often get sick living in communal dorm conditions, and soup is a classic remedy for illness.

Granola bars: It is normal for people to not be hungry upon waking up for early classes, but since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, granola bars suffice as enough of a breakfast for non-morning eaters. They can also act as a midday snack between classes, after lunch, or before the gym. 

Oatmeal: Some may find dining hall breakfast to be greasy and repetitive, which is why oatmeal is the perfect breakfast that can be made custom to your liking right in the comfort of your dorm. With the right toppings, oatmeal can be a satiating breakfast and provide energy for the day ahead. 

We know transitioning from healthy cooking at home to a dorm lifestyle can be difficult. With these suggestions, you’ll be equipped with enough basic knowledge to stock your dorm room fridge and pantry so you can continue to pursue and adapt your healthy lifestyle.

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