Meals in Minutes: Dorm Room Edition

I didn’t have the opportunity to live in the dorms when I was in college, but I spent my time shuttling between home, campus and working as a full-time baby-sitter/nanny for a few amazing families.

I ate almost every meal on the go, and at the strangest times, generally prepping ahead or using a microwave/hot water to prep my meals….but a lot has changed since then in the food prep in a dorm (or hotel room for that matter), and it can be fun/cost effective and sometimes be more sought after than cafeteria options.

Yesterday, we talked about the essentials a college student should have in their dorms, and a small list of pantry/shelf-stable foods that can come in handy when cooking “at home” in dorms. In case you missed it, you can read that post here.

Below, you’ll find a list of foods that would be good to generally have on hand (always makes a great holiday/birthday/any day gift to send a college student back restocked with the pantry essentials or new smaller appliances/utensils to use!) and ways to use them throughout a week with various meal options for any time of day. They may be listed as a snack or meal but we all know anything goes – these can be prepped and eaten whenever it’s wanted!

Breakfast –

  • Waffles
    A small batch of waffles makes 3-4 waffles (generally) – and they can easily be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and heated quickly in a microwave or toaster for a meal on the go!
    • Appliances / Utensils Needed
      • Mini Dash Waffle Maker
      • Fork or Whisk
      • Measuring Spoons/cups
    • Ingredients
      • Pancake/Waffle Mix (I like Krusteaz brand, you just add water)
      • Water
      • Non-stick cooking spray
      • Butter, Syrup and/or fruit for topping
  • Cereal and Milk
    Nothing could be easier! Cereal from a box, and milk or yogurt. If the dorm doesn’t come with a fridge, cereal is easy to store, and grab a small milk or yogurt from the cafeteria or local convenience store.
    • Utensils Needed
      • Bowl
      • Spoon
    • Ingredients
      • Cereal
      • Milk/Yogurt
  • Instant Oatmeal (not from a packet)
    Instant oatmeal is easy to make at home and have on hand in a dorm room, adding boiling water or microwaving with milk and it is completely customizable. Here is a basic recipe with variations to use as a guide, but feel free to make it your own!
    • Appliances / Utensils Needed
      • Bowl or Mug
      • Spoon
      • Microwave
    • Ingredients
      • Oatmeal
      • Mix-ins
      • Milk/Water

Lunch / Dinner –

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
    As long as you have the microwave pasta cooker, you have homemade spaghetti any time! If you have a small refrigerator that you can store some frozen meatballs and any leftover sauce, you’re set. No refrigerator? Just buy the smaller jars of sauce and skip the meat, still a homemade meal that might taste just a bit better than the special served in the cafeteria.
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Microwavable Pasta Cooker
      • Bowl
      • Fork
    • Ingredients
      • Pasta
      • Jarred pasta sauce (tomato, alfredo, etc.)
      • Meatballs (optional, only if you can refrigerate/freeze them in your room)
      • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • Tortilla Pizzas
    A great use for some tortillas, leftover vegetables/meat from the week and maybe a jar of pasta sauce that’s left over. Thinking Chicken Alfredo Pizza, or a Pepperoni and green pepper pizza. Here is a suggested recipe to use as a guide!
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Plate
      • Fork/Knife/Spoon
    • Ingredients
      • Tortillas
      • Sauce (leftovers work!)
      • Cheese
      • Toppings
  • Loaded Baked Potato
    “Baked” in minutes, and the toppings can be as simple as salt and pepper, or as elaborate as butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon, green onions, etc. You can even use a sweet potato instead. Here’s a simple process to follow for cooking the potatoes!
    • Appliances / Utensils needed
      • Microwave
      • Bowl/plate
      • Fork and knife
    • Ingredients
      • Baking or Russet Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes
      • Salt, Pepper
      • Optional Toppings
        • butter
        • Sour Cream
        • Bacon (you may need a microwave bacon cooking plate for this)
        • Vegetables
        • Cheese
        • Protein – shredded chicken or pork

Snacks –

  • Chex Mix
    I don’t think anyone can go wrong with chex mix – especially in the microwave. It’s rather foolproof, takes just a few minutes and it’s just so good. Take a look at this recipe, they have the option for microwave cooking or oven baking.
  • Rice Cakes with Cream Cheese and Jam
    Simple as that – spread some cream cheese on 1-2 plain/salted rice cakes and then add your favorite jam – sweet and salty all in one. You can also make it a crunch peanut butter and jelly sandwich by spreading peanut butter on one side and jelly/jam on the other and putting them together for a transportable treat.
  • Nachos – in the Microwave
    So easy, and so fun to change up the toppings, like so many of the other options above. Here’s a quick recipe/guide to start with, and of course, as with all things, you can change things up to your liking!

Food Items to Keep on Hand

These are suggested items, based on recipes above, but you can look at what will be consumed most frequently/easily, and create a “standard” list from there, and just add what is needed when planning to head to the store(s)!

  • Sandwich bread
  • Pancake/Waffle Mix
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Pasta
  • Jarred sauces
  • Jarred Salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Peanut Butter/Nut Butter
  • Fruit Jelly/Jam
  • Cereals (particularly Chex cereals if you plan to make chex mix often!)
  • Quick Oats
  • Butter
  • Crackers/Rice Cakes
  • Quick Oats
  • Boxes of Milk, shelf-stable (i.e. Horizon Brand, or Almond Breeze (8oz almond milk)
  • Condiments – this is where those take out packets come in quite handy!

It may still be a bit unconventional to cook in your dorm instead of eating with the rest of the campus, but I know there will be days or nights that require a meal made in minutes, with limited supplies – so I hope this is a helpful resource, whether a new college-bound student, or in the home stretch to graduation.

If this seems overwhelming, or anyone needs additional ideas/suggestions; more detailed information about how to pack or store anything for easy food prep in small spaces/minimal refrigerator space, and only one or two ways to heat meals up, please comment below, email me or call us. We are here to help make preparing and heating meals, don’t hesitate to reach out!


Published by Alexis Arvis

Business Owner, Blogger, Aspiring Home Renovation Planner

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