Navigating Eating in College – Part Two: Dorm/Apt Grocery Staples

Navigating Eating in College – Part Two: Dorm/Apt Grocery Staples

By Paige Mandel, MS RD CDN

In Part One of this blog series, we learned first what normal eating looks like, and then how to address the what and when of eating while away in college. A recap in short, “normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, and your feelings”1. If you missed our last post, you can find it here. This post, part two, will touch on another way to tackle the what of eating, but also how to navigate some of the where.

An obstacle I often hear from college students is that there either is “no time for” or “no good place for” a quick meal or snack throughout the day. While the dining hall is usually the gold standard for meals on many campuses, fostering social meal time with friends, it is not always the most convenient to your schedule. Knowing what food you could have on hand for those early morning classes, late study nights, or days spent out and about on campus, is essential to navigating eating in college. Set yourself up for success, to be well equipped when that early sign of hunger strikes. Honoring your hunger at this early point not only keeps you from getting hangry, but also keep your blood sugar levels stable. This helps to teach your body and mind that food is not scarce and is always coming shortly, training your nervous system to keep anxiety at bay. Pro tip: be prepared.

Refrigerator space is frequently limited, whether that is due to college dorm appliances or shared spaces with roommates, therefore you must learn to be strategic with what you fill it with. Secondly, grocery stores are not always easy to get to and from without a car, so filling your fridge, freezer and pantry with items that have an extended shelf life is also something to think about. Pro tip: if a grocery store is not accessible for you, consider looking into grocery delivery services such as Instacart, Fresh Direct or Amazon Fresh to see if online orders are available in your area.

Fridge Staples:

  • Eggs (can buy pre-cooked hard boiled if you don’t have cooking appliances)
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • String Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Veggies: i.e. carrots, cucumbers etc.

Freezer Staples:

  • Amy’s Frozen Meals/Microwavable Meals
  • Bell & Evans or Applegate Chicken Nuggets
  • Pre-cooked Chicken Strips
  • Frozen Veggie Medley

Pantry Staples:

  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
  • Jelly
  • Individual Pack Nuts and/or Trail Mix (especially helpful to pack for class/on-the-go)
  • Fruit: i.e. apples, bananas, oranges (don’t need to be refrigerated)
  • Dried Fruit
  • Pretzels/Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal/Granola
  • Kind Bars/Granola Bars
  • Bread/Bagels/English Muffins
  • Minute Rice
  • Annie’s Mac & Cheese
  • Pasta (if cooking appliances are available)
  • Jerky
  • Microwavable Soup

These staples are some ideas to help you get started into stocking your fridge, freezer and pantry to whip up balanced meals or snacks at home or pack for on-the-go between classes, study hours, etc.

Many questions are asked from college students learning to navigate eating in their different environments, and will continue to be answered throughout this series – Navigating Eating in College. If you have any topics you would like to know more about, or would like to schedule an individual session to get your personal questions answered and needs met – email me at


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