Let’s face it: When you first come to college, the dining seems great. And Wheaton’s dining halls are pretty good, considering other colleges’ food selections and especially their meal plans. There’s every type of drink you could think of to go with a meal, from sodas to juices to cucumber water in the summer months. You can get a grilled cheese or a burger, design a fresh salad, create a stir-fry dish or enjoy an omelet for dinner. For dessert, you can stop by Emerson for a soft-serve ice cream cone.
But somewhere after the first semester of freshman year, dining hall food sometimes just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. There are the nights where your heart sinks with disappointment because there’s nothing that looks edible for dinner. And what about the days where you’re stuck in bed with a box of Kleenex or those hunger pains strike at 3 am during an all-nighter?
You can’t leave your dorm and you’ve got to work with what can be stored in your mini fridge and under-bed storage bin. When the dining hall fails you for dinner, you want something that you can prepare without too much effort and that’s also as healthy as a home-cooked meal. At the same time, everyone room should be equipped with appropriate comfort food for the end of a bad day in class or an impromptu birthday party.
For starters, there are the cliché college dorm foods: ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and soda. But those are loaded with chemicals and are neither fulfilling nor nutritious. The best foods to store in your room are ones that hit all the food groups and work for multiple meals or snacks.
For example, keep a big box of your favorite cereal and some cups of yogurt on hand. They work for a quick, nutritious treat and it saves a good half hour of time spent in the dining hall before class. Stock up on fruit like apples, bananas or peaches for snacks you can take on the go.
Go back to your childhood delights of Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, and Animal Crackers. They might seem like foods more appropriate for break time in third grade, but they hit the spot after a frustrating day of back-to-back classes in the afternoon. Keep energy bars with lots of protein tucked away in your backpack for when those library study sessions run a little too long.
Every fridge should contain a carton of Orange Juice, milk and some favorite sports drinks. If you’ve got some extra cash on hand, A Brita filter is an excellent investment when you just can’t bring yourself to stomach the water fountains in the hall. You can have fresh, purified drinking water while cutting overall costs on plastic water bottles from the store. When sickness strikes, having the basics like saltines, Ginger Ale and microwavable soups on hand are essential.
Another important step is to take advantage of your dorm’s kitchen. Bring a plate, a mug, a pot or pan, and some silverware back to school with you. You can wait for food to bake or boil while tackling a few homework problems at the table, just like at home.
A box of pasta, an oven-ready pizza and pancake mix are some cheap food options that are easy and fun to make with friends on a Friday night. Furthermore, don’t leave leftovers at home. Coming back from Thanksgiving break or a weekend in town? Wrap up that Turkey dinner or favorite homemade meal in Tupperware and store it in your fridge. When dining hall food gets depressing, you can throw your custom-made TV dinner into the microwave and have the taste of home in three and a half minutes.
And for those days where nothing seems to be going as planned, don’t forget that alluring pint of Ben & Jerry’s waiting in your freezer.