Stocking a Healthy Pantry in Your Dorm Room

perfect dorm room snack pack
With beginning of a new school year right around the corner, students of all ages are gearing up for a fresh start and new challenges that lie ahead. New college freshmen have perhaps the biggest hurdles to cross in the coming months as they adapt to new surroundings, new academic standards, and new routines. One of the best ways to help ease the stress that comes with all that change is to maintain a healthy diet - but we know that a college dorm room isn’t exactly the easiest place to make that happen! So, we’d like to share some of our favorite ideas for creating a healthy dorm “pantry,” even if you don’t have much space to spare. 

A black shelf displaying a variety of food and snacks

Before you move in to your new dorm, find out exactly what is and isn’t allowed in terms of kitchen electrics and food items. While some colleges offer dorms with full kitchenettes, others frown upon students bringing in even a kettle or a mini-fridge. Others still restrict students from keeping food in their dorms at all, typically for sanitary reasons. If you are lucky enough to be able to bring in a mini-fridge, a microwave, and an electric kettle, you’ll be able to prepare a whole range of delicious and healthful meals for yourself without breaking the bank! Bon Appétit and The Spruce Eats have great guides on cooking in your dorm room safely and deliciously. 

Assuming your college is fine with you storing some food in your room, consider setting aside some dedicated space to act as your “pantry.” This can be a free cabinet, a tricked-out drawer with organizer bins, a few open shelves on your bookshelf, or even just a simple basket or storage bin. By assigning a set space for food storage, you’ll be able to keep track of what you have available to snack on, and avoid wasting food you’ve forgotten about.

A basket filled with a variety of food and snacks neatly arranged on a shelf
When stocking your little pantry, finding items that are shelf-stable is key! College is stressful enough without having to worry about which foods are going to expire this week, so try to pick items that will stay fresh all semester long. For breakfast, try instant oats, cereal, or granola bars. For snacks, consider whole grain crackers, dried fruit or nuts, or our single-ingredient nut butters. Our single-serve nut butter packets are great for when you're running late, to class, too - bring along an apple, too, and you've got a balanced snack! Canned goods make for great lunches and dinners - soups are perfect if you have a microwave, or canned tuna or beans can be turned into a delicious salad with just a few ingredients. Keeping fresh fruit on hand isn’t out of the question, either - just be sure to choose items that aren’t too delicate (like apples or bananas), and only buy as much as you know you’ll eat. Below is a list of our favorite items for stocking a dorm pantry:

A person holding a bag of coffee in front of a shelf of snacks

Shelf-Stable Items
  • Oats
  • Cereal / Granola
  • Peanut Butter
  • Protein-rich Snack Bars
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Whole Grain Crackers
  • Canned Goods (tuna or salmon, beans, soups, veggies)
  • Veggie Chips 
  • Coffee / Tea
Refrigerated Items (if you’ve got a mini-fridge)
  • Fresh Fruit, especially apples, citrus, and grapes 
  • Fresh Veggies, like baby carrots, broccoli, or snap peas
  • Eggs (if you have a microwave or hot plate)
  • Cheese 
  • Hummus 
  • Yogurt 
  • Deli Meats (for sandwiches) 
Stocking your very own little dorm pantry with healthy eats can be a great way to help you feel your best as you embark on the exciting (and often stressful) experience of starting out at a new school. And by loading up your diet with healthy foods and snacks as often as you can, you'll help balance out those inevitable late-night pizza runs, too - because this is college after all, and you’re entitled to have some fun!
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