The idea of using only a mini-fridge and a microwave to prepare a decent meal can be daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it’s totally possible to enjoy satisfying and nutritious food from the comfort of your dorm! Today I’m sharing 18 meal ideas that will fuel you up for whatever college throws your way. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Oatmeal: You’ll definitely want to keep a tub of Mr. Quaker in your dorm room pantry. Ready in less than two microwave minutes, oatmeal is a great source of energy-rich carbohydrates and fiber. Plus, you can add your favorite toppings for extra flavor and texture. Some of my favorite toppings include fresh or frozen fruit, nuts and seeds, nut butter, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips!
Overnight oats: This breakfast option offers all the nutritional benefits of conventionally prepared oatmeal but with a few added bonuses! Due to their preparation process, overnight oats have a sweeter taste. And because you prepare them the night before, they’re easy to grab ‘n go when you’re running out the door (perpetually late ladies, I’m looking at you). To make: combine ½ cup oats + ½ cup milk + 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional). Let sit in the fridge overnight, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy!
Peanut butter banana wrap: This was one of my favorite breakfasts in college because it satisfied my sweet tooth AND was easy to take with me on my walks to class. To make: spread a layer of peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter you prefer) over a whole wheat tortilla, then add sliced bananas, a dash of cinnamon, roll it up, and be on your merry way! Note: if you’re feeling extra hungry, you can use two tortillas to make a quesadilla-like dish. Slice it into triangles and enjoy!
Smoothie: You’ll need a blender to make smoothies, but no need to worry about shelling out a small fortune to purchase one- you can find plenty of single-serve blenders less than $20 on Amazon! I recommend blending frozen fruit with some sort of fat and protein to help you feel satisfied until your next meal or snack. Here are a few smoothie combination ideas:
- Frozen berries + yogurt + milk of your choice
- Frozen banana + nut butter + chocolate milk of your choice
- Frozen banana + protein powder + milk of your choice
Breakfast cereal: Of course I had to include this classic staple! When all other breakfasts fail, you can count on cereal to save the day. I recommend choosing a cereal that’s made with whole grains (ex: whole wheat and oats) and has at least 3g of fiber per serving. Some of my favorite cereals include Puffins and Cheerios! I love adding nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit to make my bowl even more satisfying.
Yogurt parfait: This is a great way to start your day off with a source of protein and calcium! I recommend using yogurt that is higher in protein, such as Greek or Icelandic-style yogurt. Top it with your favorite granola + fresh fruit and you have a perfectly tasty and perfectly balanced breakfast!
Breakfast taco: Did you know that you can prepare scrambled eggs in the microwave? All you need to do crack eggs into a microwave-safe bowl or mug, beat them with milk, salt, and pepper until smooth, then microwave them for 45 seconds. After giving them a quick stir, heat them again in the microwave for another 30-45 seconds, or until cooked through. After your eggs are ready, serve them in a tortilla with salsa and any of your other favorite burrito toppings for a savory start to your day!
Chia pudding: Chia seeds are a great source of healthy fats and fiber. The super cool thing about them is their ability to absorb liquid and transform into a smooth, pudding-like treat! Here’s how to make chia pudding: combine 3 Tbsp of chia seeds + 1 cup milk of your choice + a dash of your favorite sweetener. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight, then serve with your favorite toppings. Click here to view my matcha chia pudding recipe!
Deli sandwich: Another classic you can always count on that’s quick, easy, and totally satisfying. I recommend using the following ingredients to boost the nutritional value of your sandwich:
- Whole wheat bread for extra fiber
- Low-sodium turkey, chicken, ham or canned fish for protein power
- Hummus or mashed avocado for healthy fats and a creamy flavor
- Romaine lettuce or spinach for fresh, crisp flavor
- Thinly sliced vegetables for extra nutrients and that satisfying “CRUNCH”
Fajita burrito: Microwave frozen fajita vegetables and serve with a whole wheat tortilla, canned beans, mashed avocado, salsa, hot sauce, and any of your other favorite toppings. Comfort food from the comfort of your dorm!
Cheese quesadilla: Layer a whole wheat tortilla with cheese, then top with another tortilla (you can add extra flavor by adding beans and veggies to the cheese). Microwave until the cheese is melted (about 30 seconds - 1 minute) and serve with fresh vegetables like baby carrots, snap peas, or bell peppers. Dip everything in salsa, mashed avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt, or bean dip for more flavor.
“Baked” potato: Did you know that you can cook potatoes in the microwave? It’s super easy and only takes a few minutes. First, wash your potato and pierce it a few times with a fork to create holes that allow steam to escape. Then, wrap your potato in a wet paper towel, and place it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Rotate the potato, then cook for another 3-5 minutes or until soft. You can do this with sweet potatoes, as well! Once cool, serve with your sour cream/plain greek yogurt, cheese, chives, or any of your other favorite toppings. Serve with a side salad or fresh vegetables to create a balanced, fiber-rich meal!
PB & J sandwich: These are probably my favorite sandwiches of all time. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also portable, made with affordable ingredients, and are a great balance of carbs, protein, and fat. Using whole wheat bread will add more fiber to the sandwich to help you stay fuller for longer.
Soup + salad: Another classic meal that never fails to satisfy- especially during the colder months! Heat up a bowl of soup in the microwave, and enjoy with a salad and sliced bread. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, I definitely recommend checking out their butternut squash or tomato and roasted red pepper soup, which are both to die for! I also recommend adding some canned beans to your salad or cheese to your soup to bump up the protein.
Grain bowl: Grains + protein + veggies + toppings = a delicious grain bowl! Such a simple equation that packs in a ton of nutrition and flavor! Here’s what I recommend for those living in their dorm:
- Microwave frozen rice or quinoa (or any other grain you prefer)
- Microwave frozen veggies or add fresh veggies
- Use canned fish (such as tuna or salmon), canned beans, or cheese as a source of protein
- Add toppings for extra flavor. My personal favorites include hummus, olive oil and vinegar, dried herbs, nuts, seeds, and hot sauce!
Here's a Mediterranean-inspired grain bowl that features quinoa, feta cheese, and fresh vegetables. Find more recipes like these by signing up for my Lunch Club!
Pita plate: This is the perfect meal to throw together when exhaustion from a full day of adulting strikes. Here’s how I recommend making it: serve sliced pita bread or pita chips with hummus, fresh vegetables, and maybe even some olives, cheese, and nuts if you’re feelin’ extra fancy! Then close your eyes and pretend you’re on a Mediterranean vacation...
Veggie wrap: Heading out the door for your club meeting or evening class? This super portable meal has you covered. I recommend layering your favorite spread (hummus, avocado, cream cheese) on a wrap, then adding greens (spinach, romaine, kale), sliced vegetables, a source of protein (beans, tuna, tofu, or cheese), and whatever other toppings you prefer (salt and pepper, hot sauce, mustard).
Avocado tuna salad: As a busy college student, I could always count on this dish to fill me up when I had a busy day ahead. It’s also as easy to throw together as it is filling, coming together in less than 5 minutes! Here’s how to make it: mash ½ an avocado until smooth and creamy, then add canned tuna (or canned beans for a plant-based option), and seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, lime juice, and crushed red pepper. Serve on top of bread or a bed of greens.
Which dish are you most excited about trying? Make sure you have all the kitchen gadgets you'll need to create it by checking out my Dorm Room Dining Essentials shopping list. Also be sure to use my FREE Google Doc grocery list template to help you shop for everything you need! Here's to eating well in college!
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