If you don’t stock up on snacks, you’re going to be eating the guy across the hall’s peanut butter out of a jar with your finger at 2 AM. I’ve been there and it’s a bad scene. Attempts to save money or prevent the ‘freshman 15’ by not buying healthy snacks for dorm rooms most always backfire. The truth is that you are going to get hungry, and you need to eat. If you don’t surround yourself with healthy choices, you will be forced to make unhealthy ones in the middle of writing your term paper–just the time when you need a proper source of energy.
Photo by The Seanster ’93
For me, fruit and nuts is the name of the game; they’re a potent, energy-boosting mix of natural sugar, protein, and vitamins. They don’t require refrigeration (some berry varieties excepted), and they’re easy to take on the go or pre-package in snack-size portions. Yes, nuts can be pricey, but pistachios and peanuts can often be found in bulk size, relatively cheaply. Cashews and almonds are more expensive, but worth every penny. Avoid buying the kinds that come with “fire-roasted” flavoring–usually Planter’s nuts come this way–and they’re loaded with extra sodium and funky ingredients. Nuts are great because they don’t need any added ingredients, or any preparation, so stick with the raw varieties for maximum health and energy. On the fruit side, buying clementines or mandarines are perfect because they’re cheap, packaged in bulk, very portable, and they last a long time without refrigeration. They are loaded with vitamin C, which is an important immunity booster. Apples and bananas are great too; they are widely available, probably available to every college student in the country. I know you’re smart enough to pick out fruits, so I won’t list any more. My obsession with fruits and nuts aside, here are some tips about stocking healthy snacks for dorm rooms:
- If you don’t have a refrigerator, look for non-perishable items (items that don’t need to be refrigerated, and which generally last a while)
- To widen the amount of food available to you, invest in a hot plate (if your school allows it) or plug-in water heater (kind of like a plastic teapot). With the addition of hot water, you can have hot chocolate, tea, Ramen noodles, and just about any other instant food you crave.
- In news related to tip #2: Discover oatmeal. This is an instant food livesaver. It’s filling, it takes minutes to cook, and it’s healthy. It’s my favorite late-night snack–if you’re craving sweet, just throw in some honey. Great for a quick breakfast, too.
- Which brings me to #4: Keep a sweet treat around, like dark chocolate, honey, or fruit popsicles. I find that I don’t buy myself something sweet or sugary because I don’t want to eat it late at night. But of course, when that craving inevitably comes, it’s so much better to have a healthy sweet option around than to go in search of sugar and come back with a stomach full of leftover birthday cake, powdered doughnuts, and soda.
Trying to save money by not buying healthy snacks for dorm rooms won’t work, you’ll just end up ordering a pizza late-night. Likewise, not buying food to cut back on snacking won’t work either, because you’re human, and you get hungry. Spend some money, plan ahead, and you will develop healthier eating habits and experience fewer swings between extremes of binge eating and fasting. Just watch out for hungry roommates.