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Essential Foods For Your Dorm or First Kitchen

Updated on June 9, 2016
Remember the importance of fresh fruits and veggies!
Remember the importance of fresh fruits and veggies!

Basic Food and Cookware for your Dorm or first apartment.


How exciting! You finally have your own 'place' and your first kitchenette or kitchen. Some basic ingredients are used so often you may not even think about packing them for your dorm room and then wonder, 'how did I forget salt and pepper?!' Here is a list of basics that will help cover the basis for most any quick meal.

Ramen Noodles are a given (the official college meal)

Protein: Tuna, salmon, chicken and even pre-cooked rice come in vacuum sealed pouches which do not require refrigeration until they're opened and are in small enough packets that you won't have to store them. Peanut butter, Cheese sticks. Textured vegetable protein granules. Sardines are good with crackers. Yogurt or cottage cheese.

Cereal: Dry cerea, grains or packets of oatmeal.

Flat bread, pita bred or crackers. Regular wheat or white bread is OK, but doesn't keep well, gets stale and/or moldy and has little nutrition..

Seasonings/condiments: Salt/pepper, sugar, jelly and honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried parsley are the basics. Also garlic powder (rather than Garlic salt, as many foods are already salty),chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme. Buy one seasoning each time you shop as they are expensive. Many of these go a long way in making bland noodles more tasty and don‘t have all the chemicals and excess salt of the packet seasonings that come with them..

Mustard and catsup. This may sound a little unethical, but if you ask for an extra packet catsup, mustard or mayo at the deli or fast food restaurants, it will come in handy and won't require refrigeration. Please don't raid the local fast-food restaurant, just keep a few on hand. Also hot sauce, vinegar, olive oil (so you can make your own salad dressings when you need them). Keep som Mayonaise or Salad Dressing on hand for tuna salad sandwhiches

Beverages: If you like Propel water there are individual packets to mix with tap or bottled water, this takes up a lot less space and you save the planet from all of those plastic bottles.

If you're a coffee drinker, get a small coffeemaker - the Goodwill is an excellent place to look for these.  If you're not a coffee person buy a small jar of instant for guests - Folgers is best.  Don't ask them if instant is 'ok' - just make it and give them to them - my bet is they won't complain.

Have an assortment of teas on hand.  Celestial Seasonings and other brands sell an assortment pack.  These will come in handy in cold and flu season and also for guests.

Investing in a water pitcher/purifier unit is a good idea, especially if the water is anything like it is in many dorm rooms with ancient plumbing.

Dean's food sells individual containers of organic milk that doesn't have to be refrigerated until it is opened. It's a bit more expensive, but when you think about milk that gets thrown out because it 'expired' in the fridge, it may be a wiser choice.

Snacks: A container of trail mix will come in handy for quick energy snacks, or granola bars.

Remember your body needs fresh fruits and veggies. Baby carrots make great snacks and are very nutritious. Always have at least one piece of fresh fruit a day, more if possible. This will keep your energy up and maintain your health for those all-night study sessions.Bananas are filled with potassium and other nutrients and require no prep! Caffeine has a rebound affect and doesn't do than job as well as fresh fruit or fruit juice. If fresh fruit is not your thing - try dried fruit.  Dried apricots are very sweet and good for you.  Figs and dates are also excellent sources of iron and nutrients that will perk you up when studying for exams without dropping you flat like candy or other snacks made with a lot of processed sugar.

Here are a few suggestions for kitchen cookware, etc.: A small Grill (like a George Forman Grill) is great for making a quick burger or fresh fish fillet. A blender (no, not for margaritas) is important for making fruit smothies and protein shakes. A good quality double boiler - this way you have 2 pots as well as a double boiler. A small frying pan (not non-stick, stainless), a square glass bakind dish, a strainer or collandar for draining pasta, a cutting board, a sharp knife, a soup ladle, a large serving/stirring spoon. Check our garage sales, estate sales and thrift shops and you'll probably find quality cookware at a fraction of the price of new. A hand blender comes in handy for one person because it's easy to clean up and you can drink right out of the container you mixing smoothies. Also, let your family know what you need as they will probably have extra cookware, or may want new and give you what they have now.

This is a list of the basics that will at least get you through a few days or more if you're unable to shop and the care-packages from Mom run out.


Some Suggestions for items for your pantry.

Hand Blender with Beaker , 2 Speed Powerful 200 Watt Smartstick Immersion Blender, Brushed Chrome - Bundled with Cloth
Hand Blender with Beaker , 2 Speed Powerful 200 Watt Smartstick Immersion Blender, Brushed Chrome - Bundled with Cloth

An immersion blender will enable you to make your own salad dressings, gravies, and drinks and save you money and keep the chemicals and salt found in prepared foods out of your body.



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    • profile image

      bri36 6 years ago

      Don't forget also that a few kitchen tools are a must have too. Things like wooden spoons, a good 2 qt sauce pot, a 10" cast iron skillet(for cheese qesadillas)and at least a pizza pan. Anything else will come in time as you go along. Great hub yes I voted^

    • profile image

      Organic Spices 9 years ago

      Good information! I have forwarded it to my all coleague.

    • profile image

      Latrelle Ross 9 years ago

      If only I'd had this info when I first lived on my own. I remember eating nothing but ramen noodles, chicken and carrots because I didn't know what else to buy. What a great hub!

    • epictruth profile image

      epictruth 9 years ago from Frisco

      Great information! I've forwarded it to my sister who will just be starting college this year. Thank you!

      -Your newest fan

    • Solorya profile image

      Solorya 9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great hub! Wish I had had this when i first moved out! Here's some more tips on things you need the first time on your own, I remember once I had the food down I kept forgetting to buy a spatula or a mixing bowl!