I caught an article the other day about how to eat healthy as a college student, and some of the recommendations the author suggested were somewhat unrealistic or just not actually even healthy. Sooo I decided I definitely needed to write a post about it because I had major struggles with the eating situation when I was in the dorms, but I did figure out how to survive. I started having major health problems during my last quarter living in my dorm room and was put on a restricted diet during that time, which made it even more difficult to find things to eat since I wasn’t cooking my own food. So I sat down and figured out a plan, determined to maintain my health as much as I could despite the fact that there was barely anything offered on campus that I could eat at the time. I did make it work though, and if I could do it, so can you.
Every school is different, every menu is different, every dining hall is different. I’m lucky enough to go to a college with a lot of extremely healthy dining options, but I still was having trouble finding things I was allowed to eat based on the diet I was following for my health. Besides that, I’m kind of a hermit so I hated eating in the dining halls anyways. Mostly because I wanted to use mealtime as my TV break from studying, and also because I was too lazy to go all the way to the dining hall or to find someone who wanted to eat at the same time as me that night. Not that there’s anything wrong with eating alone – I did it all the time, but why go out to eat when you can snuggle on your bed in your jammies and throw on The Bachelor? There are definitely strategies to eating healthy at the dining halls, which I might write another post on later, but right now I’m going to focus on how to do it without even dealing with the dorms, for all you homebodies like me.
The key to eating healthy while living in the dorms without having to deal with the dining halls is having a mini fridge with a mini freezer and a microwave. If you don’t have one, get one. It’s gonna change your life. You can get by without the freezer, but it will make your life way easier. The microwave, however, is honestly a necessity. If you don’t have one and can’t get one, then find someone who does and become his/her best friend. The other key is to have a Trader Joe’s nearby. Trader Joe’s is a college student’s heaven because it has a million ready-to-microwave foods.
Eggs – Yes, I made eggs in my room. All you gotta do is stir them in a bowl and microwave them and you’ve got some scrambled eggs. Throw some cherry tomatoes, avocado, and veggies in there and you’ve got yourself a yummy scramble. You can also poach eggs in the microwave (YouTube it), which I personally love to do because it’s super fast and I love runny egg yolks.
Yogurt – Yogurt is an on-the-go student’s dream – just toss some in a bowl and top it with nut butter, fruit, nuts, coconut, or anything else you want!
Oatmeal – Keep some milk in the fridge and use it to microwave instant oatmeal in your room, then top it with whatever you want (like the yogurt). Breakfast for me in the dorms was always scrambled eggs & oatmeal – it took about 5 minutes for me to throw together, and it was super filling and delicious.
Chia seed pudding – You can find a ton of yummy chia seed pudding recipes online to switch things up. Mix in some flax seeds and top it off with different fruits, nuts, nut butters, seeds, coconut flakes, or anything else.
Sidenote: Throw a protein powder (one without all of those extra added ingredients) in with your yogurt/oatmeal/chia seed pudding if you’re not having it with another source of protein!
Canned salmon – Sometimes I would toss some canned fish into my bowl and mix it with olive oil, tomatoes, avocado, veggies, etc. if I wanted something different from eggs.
Toast – If you have a toaster, this is gold. Having bread for sandwiches is perfect, but sometimes I would just have “toast” without toasting it… I know it’s weird, but it’s college. You could make avocado toast, PB toast with a banana or other fruit, etc.
Salads – Buy different types of greens and other toppings at the store and you can just throw it all in a big bowl/on a big plate for lunch and dinner. TJ’s has shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, avocado, radishes, cucumbers, nuts and seeds, or whatever else you want to throw on your salads.
Veggies – This is where Trader Joe’s comes in for the kill. They have a whole section where half of their veggies can just be steamed in the microwave. They have bags of broccoli florets, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts, asparagus, butternut squash, sweet corn, and other vegetables that you literally just poke a hole in and throw in the microwave to cook. I also liked to keep frozen veggies in my freezer that I could microwave later on, which meant I didn’t have to go to the store as often to get fresh produce.
Quinoa/rice/etc. – Look in the freezer section and get some quinoa or rice or whatever else you want. They have portioned-out bags that you just throw in the microwave to cook and then you’re all set to go!
Proteins – Canned fish is a winner. I also lived off of microwave chicken while I was in the dorms. In the freezer section you can find huge bags of chicken so you can just pull out as much as you want for that meal, stick on a plate, and cook in the microwave. Over by the pre-made salads they also have pre-cut/cooked meats you can go for. Sliced turkey and ham are other great sources of protein that are easy to throw on sandwiches or eat with a salad or other veggies. If you can get to Whole Foods, they have a ton of cooked meat at the hot food bar that you can stock up on and keep in the fridge.
Other random food/snacks:
Fruit – Get any fruit you like and keep it in your room to snack on! My favorites for the dorms were bananas, apples, blueberries, and raspberries. They used to give out fruit at the dining halls so I never had to buy any – I just stocked up every chance I got!
Nut butter – I’m obsessed with the crunchy almond butter from TJ’s. It’s so delish. Eat it with your fruit and sprinkle some cinnamon on top! You could also slab some on a piece of bread for a quick snack.
Avocados – I eat avocados like candy. Sprinkle some salt and lemon juice on top and go for it, throw it on bread, or mix it in with some canned tuna or salmon.
Canned salmon/tuna/sardines – So easy, and so delicious. Get that protein in!
Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, cashews, etc! Nuts are an amazing source of healthy fats and protein. I especially love the mixes they sell at Trader Joe’s if you want to always have a good variety. You can sprinkle nuts on top of yogurt, oatmeal, etc. – soooo nom.
Pumpkin seeds – I have a weird obsession with pumpkin seeds. You can eat them on their own as a great source of protein in a snack or you can sprinkle them onto yogurt, oatmeal, or salads for that extra crunch!
Shredded coconut – Literally obsessed with this stuff and might or might not eat it every day without fail.
Bars – I’m not really a “bar” person, to be honest, but while I was in the dorms and on-the-go I always went for LaraBars because they’re so delicious and have really great ingredients. RxBars are another great option — so many yummy, healthy flavors!
Dark chocolate – I’m a major dark chocolate lover, so I always kept a bar of extra dark chocolate in my room. Just in case. 😉
Olive oil, Balsamic/Red Wine/ Apple Cider Vinegar (whatever you like) – Toss it on your salads, your veggies, and your proteins to flavor things up!
Coconut oil – Coconut oil is magic from heaven and I eat a big spoonful every morning in addition to cooking everything with it and putting it on everything. It’s delicious and so good for you.
Cinnamon – I can’t live without cinnamon. Throw it on your oatmeal or with your fruit for a sweet treat!
Chia/hemp/flaxseeds – Perfect to toss on oatmeal and yogurt or for on top of bread. Also necessary for making chia seed pudding!
Salt & pepper – Throw it in your scrambles, on your meat, on your salads, and on your veggies so you don’t get too bored. Also pick up any other seasonings you like!