Five must-have food items for your dorm room

By Unigo

During my first year in college, I bought many of my meals at the campus cafeteria or the Alumni Café. The food was nothing to brag about, but these locations were close to my classes and I didn’t have to do the dishes. I probably would have continued this trend had I not sat down one day to figure out my monthly expenses and realized I was wasting nearly $20 a day eating out. Ouch! That’s when I decided to switch gears and start cooking for myself. Cooking in a small dorm room can present some challenges, though, especially when you only have a microwave to use. But over time, I learned a few tricks and made sure I had the following five items on hand at all times.

1. Tortillas

Tortillas are cheap and versatile. You can use them for any meal and they travel well. Some of my favorite meals use tortillas, such as breakfast burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. They also can be used for wraps (instead of sandwiches) and take up less room than a loaf of bread.

2. Cheese

Need a quick snack? Throw some cheese on a tortilla and microwave for 30 seconds. Voila – easy quesadilla! I always keep several bags of pre-shredded cheese in my mini-fridge and use it on chips (nachos), wraps, and many other snacks. Keep some in cube form, too, for a late-night snack while studying.

3. Pasta

You don’t need a stove to make pasta. Simply boil some water in a microwave-safe dish and add pasta. Keep cooking until the pasta is done. Add a little cheese and milk (mac n’cheese) or throw on some spaghetti sauce or chopped veggies. I often tossed mine in olive oil and some spices, too.

4. Pre-Cooked Meats

I always keep some sausage crumbles, chopped ham, and a rotisserie chicken in my food arsenal. A whole chicken usually runs around $7 to $9 dollars but can last a whole week. I make chicken salad, as well as adding it to quesadillas and pasta dishes. The sausage and ham are great for breakfast burritos and other quick snacks.

5. Potatoes

Potatoes are another inexpensive item that can be used in so many ways! Cut them up and microwave for a quick breakfast bowl with cheese and sausage, or bake them and add your favorite toppings. To add some variety, try using sweet potatoes instead. I sprinkle mine with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Yum!

By using these five items, I have managed to cut my food bill down to about $20 a week. Of course, I still pick up some fresh fruits and veggies, as a girl cannot live by starch foods alone! If you have some favorite go-to items in your dorm room, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to post recipes and other tips in the comment section or on our Facebook wall.