Lets talk about everyone’s favorite topic: food.
As the school year came to a close and I moved out of my residence hall the final time and into an apartment just off campus for the summer. It was time to take on quite a few responsibilities including going grocery shopping. Its funny how much you take your meal plan for granted until it is time to prepare and cook every single one of your meals on your own. However, while I was living in the dorm, I still liked being able to utilize my mini-fridge and dorm kitchen. As an incoming freshman, I had a lot of unfulfilled expectations because I didn’t know simple things about what was and wasn’t a good idea when it came to food in the dorms. Hopefully these quick tips will help:
Buy anything that will spoil or go bad quickly. I had the expectation that I could buy things to make salads to take to class and buy lots of fruit and fresh veggies. I can’t stress enough that you truly don’t need to purchase any of these. There are build your own salad bars at almost every dining hall as well as plenty of bananas, apples, and oranges, as well as various other fruits like berries, melons, and pineapple available at yogurt bars also located all over campus. There is also not much room to prepare things in your room as there is almost zero counter space. If you are a fan of carrots and ranch as a afternoon snack, I am all for it. However, purchasing too much fresh produce can often lead to waste.
Buy frozen steam bag veggies. One of the things I LOVED as a freshman was making veggies in my room when I got hungry. A great way to go about it that is decently cheap and will prevent food from spoiling is buying frozen veggies that you can toss the whole frozen bag into the microwave and the veggies will steam in the bag. The only dish these veggies require is a bowl to eat them out of when they are fully cooked and it usually only takes 5-7 minutes until they are ready! These are available at C-stores at Kennedy, Scott, and Morrill as well as local grocery stores such as Kroger.
Get food for every meal. Every meal plan on campus is designed to be able to feed you for every meal. Don’t feel like you need to buy a bunch more food at the grocery store as you’ll either end up wasting your own food or your meal plan money.
Focus on just one meal to eat at the dorms. Although this is not necessary, I found it very convenient to have breakfast at my dorm every day. I would buy a gallon of milk from the C-store or from Kroger and a box of cereal so I could make breakfast before heading to my 8 a.m. classes because a lot of dinning locations aren’t open that early. It is also very easy to have a bunch of bananas, pop tarts, or oatmeal at the dorm as you will also have a microwave in your dorm to prepare food. If you want to use a stove, toaster, or oven for any meal, you will have to head to the dorm kitchen which adds time into preparing your meal and isn’t ideal for first thing in the morning. If you choose to take this route however, there are copious amounts of dishes, cooking utensils, and more that are available for checkout at the front desk of each dorm.
Other helpful tips:
In most dorm rooms, the fridge is going to be very small. It is important to work with your roommate to ensure that all of your grocery items are going to fit so that you don’t run into problems. For example: two full gallons of milk usually do not fit into the fridge unless there is truly nothing else in there. Although it is more economical to buy a full gallon of milk instead of a half, it is important to consider how much milk you will actually drink, so that it won’t spoil. I recommend deciding to share with a roommate and split the costs instead of attempting to each do your own grocery shopping to save space. The freezer section is also extremely small and not very cold. It is so small in fact that you cannot store a pint of ice cream while it is standing up, it must be lying down. Keep this in mind when purchasing goods that need to be frozen.
Each fridge is usually equipped with an ice tray that can hold about six long ice cubes which is not personally very useful for me. I really enjoyed having a cubed ice tray and I highly recommend bringing your own if you like having ice in your drinks or making ice baths/ice packs after working out.
If you are looking for a fun cooking activity that is decently cheap and easy, I highly recommend buying pre-cut cookie dough so that you can bake cookies in the dorm kitchen. Don’t forget to check out an oven mitt as well at the front desk along with the cookie sheet!
A very helpful link to use is the
University Dining Hours of Operation. This site is also nice because it lists special hours, like during the summer, over holidays and breaks, as well as during finals weeks. Once you get into a routine and are fully aware of where you can go before your 8 a.m. classes or after your late night lab, this will be your favorite tool.
Advice, Dining, Food, Housing, Student Life, University Housing