Dorm Room Cooking

Dorm room cooking sounds like an oxymoron. But believe it or not, based on what you are allowed in your dorm room, you can actually cook quite a lot with very little in the way of appliances.

Clean Eating Dorm Room Cooking For College Students

You’re away from home, maybe for the first time in your life, and the pizza and beer are everywhere. The parties, the freedom, and some nice-looking co-eds can be a huge distraction from doing what you need to do to stay healthy. And if you’re in a dorm room, the struggle is even worse. So what’s a clean eating, dorm room living, college student to do?

First, find out ahead of time what amenities WILL be available in your dorm room. Will you have a fridge? Microwave? Hot plate? What is allowed, and more importantly, what ISN”T allowed. Schools have very strict rules about what you can and can’t have in your dorm room, so be sure you comply with these rules. Clean eating is all fine and good until somebody starts a fire.

For the purpose of this blog post, I will “assume the worst”. I will assume that you have very little storage, a very small fridge, and only a microwave for cooking. I’m going to break this down by meal. I will cover breakfast, lunch and dinner and of course, some snacks. And if you can think of anything else, please share in a comment below! Let’s get started…

Dorm Room Cooking Tools

  • Electric Tea Pot
  • Microplane (doubles as a cheese grater!)
  • Can opener
  • A good set of measuring spoons and cups
  • Small whisk (small enough to fit in a mug)
  • Potato peeler (doubles as a cheese slicer!)
  • Medium, fine-meshed sieve
  • Small lunch cooler

Your Dorm Room Pantry

Space is at a premium in a dorm room. But a few small jars of spices will take you a long way in staying on track. If you have no cabinets for this sort of thing, consider a plastic milk crate. You can stack a few of them for vertical storage and even put a board over the top and it will double as a small table.

So here are what I consider to be the essentials:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin

Dorm Room Breakfast Ideas

Eggs – It is entirely possible to cook eggs in a microwave. They won’t be the best eggs you’ve ever experienced, but they are fast and can easily include other additions. Shred a carrot or two and toss them in to get your veggies AFTER cooking the eggs. This works with raw zucchini as well. Remember to only buy 1 or 2 carrots and zucchini at a time. We need to keep some room in the fridge! Maybe try a little garlic and onion powder in your eggs. A little flavor goes a long way!

Oats – Oats are perfect for microwave cooking and the directions for doing so are typically right on the package. If you have a thermos, you can even do thermos oatmeal to eat on your way to class. Simply pour in some quick-oats and some boiling hot water before you jump in the shower. You may also want to add a few things like berries or honey. Close up the thermos and your oats will be ready by the time you are ready to go.

You can also make overnight oats in a jar or container that require no cooking at all!

Pancakes – Yes, even pancakes are possible when you live in a dorm room. A warm pancake, topped with maple syrup and some fresh fruit will go a long way in helping you to not feel quite so homesick. And the best part is, there is only a mug, a spoon, and a whisk to wash! Check it out here.

Dorm Room Lunch Ideas

Be sure to scout out your school campus. Find out where you can buy things like chicken salad (bring your own dressing!) or even healthier vegetarian foods. Think produce and lean meats. Some campuses have these in spades, while others are like health food deserts. So check it out ahead of time. You’ll most likely be eating lunch on the run between classes more often than you’d like to admit.

But if you are lucky enough to be back at your dorm room for a mid-day break, here are some ideas you can make quickly and easily:

  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Think: black beans and salsa with avocado or fresh, finely chopped broccoli (cooked with the potato) and some parmesan or shredded cheddar sprinkled over the top.)
  • Quesadillas – Slice or shred some cheese, melt in the microwave, and top with some chopped tomatoes and Greek yogurt.
  • Apple & Smoked Gouda Lunchbox Kebobs
  • Garden salad with a healthy dressing
  • A basic chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, and a little mustard on whole-grain bread. Canned chicken is the easiest thing to use here.

Dorm Room Dinner Ideas

Dinner can be tough when all your friends are heading out for pizza or heading to the local bar. In moderation, there’s no reason not to enjoy these things with your friends on occasion (provided you are 21, of course!). Just make sure it’s honestly “on occasion”. Too often and you’ll quickly slide off the healthy eating train. But aside from that, there’s no reason not to have a healthy dinner back at your dorm room for a fraction of the cost of buying that huge pizza and beer for you and your friends.

Dorm Room Snacks

  • Organic popcorn
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery & peanut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fruits of all kinds
  • Nuts of all kinds

Dorm Room Grocery List

Check out my Clean Eating Dorm Room Grocery List here.

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  1. Melissa Shultz says:

    I wanted to thank you for sharing these great ideas. I am not a college student, but I am single and live in an apartment. So I tend to have some of the same struggles that a college student might have, but for different reasons. My kitchen is the size of a closet, however I do have a stove and full size fridge. And I tend to not always eat healthy because I am just cooking for me and I don’t like to have a lot of leftovers. So having ideas to cook healthy for just one is very helpful. Thanks again for all that you share on your blog.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Melissa – My pleasure! Glad I could help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thank you!! My daughter is already planning on how she can have fresher food choices than what Campus Auxiliary Services offers, and this really helps!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Karen – My pleasure! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks for these tips! My dorm doesn’t even have a microwave oven–ah, the third world. But I have a rice cooker with a steam basket, a sandwich maker and an electric kettle. Hope you have more ideas for these cookware. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ciara – The strawberry sandwich I just posted would be great for your sandwich maker and you can steam a small sweet potato in the steam basket (I think) for the stuffed potato recipe I posted a couple days ago. There’s actually a lot you can do here. But I’ll work on some more ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚