Think You Can't Meal Prep in a Tiny Dorm Kitchen? Try These Dietitian-Approved Strategies

When you go off to college, getting into a healthy meal-prep routine probably isn't at the top of your list of priorities, but it should be. Preparing your own meals can save money, help you stay fit, and give you a chance to bond with your new roommates (mac and cheese for everyone!), Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD, author of PREP: The Essential College Cookbook, told POPSUGAR. If you're thinking, Sure, but have you seen a dorm kitchen?, Katie has some tips and tricks for making meal prep work on your schedule and with limited space. Keep reading to ace it!

Healthy Grocery Staples For College Students
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Healthy Grocery Staples For College Students

Keeping these healthy staples in your kitchen will ensure you're always prepared when you need a snack to power you through a study session or a quick meal on your way out the door. Katie recommends the following foods because they're versatile and can be used to build a variety of dishes.

  • Eggs
  • Plain yogurt
  • One or two of your favorite fruits
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Carrots (or other veggies) and hummus
  • Corn or whole-wheat tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado
  • Oatmeal
  • Canned beans or chickpeas
  • Bagged baby spinach (or other greens)
  • Canned tuna
  • Popcorn
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
The Best Kitchen Tools For Dorms and Small Apartments
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The Best Kitchen Tools For Dorms and Small Apartments

At the top of Katie's list is a small cutting board and a decent knife. With these kitchen tools, you can cover the most basic meal-prep tasks, even if you don't have much space. "You can prep simple sandwiches, slice fruit for topping yogurt, and cut crunchy veggies for hummus or other dips," Katie said.

Also on her list is an electric kettle, because "it boils water quickly for things like instant oatmeal, ramen, and late-night cups of tea and coffee," no stove required. Round out your new kitchen collection with a blender (Katie especially loves the compact Ninja blenders). "You can stock a few ingredients such as milk, yogurt, and fruit, and make something quick and healthy," she said. Just be mindful of the noise around sleeping roommates.

No-Cook Meals For College Students
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No-Cook Meals For College Students

Even if you do have access to a decent kitchen, there are going to be days when you simply don't have time to cook. But if you spend a little time shopping and prepping beforehand, you can put a few no-cook meals together in a moment's notice.

Katie's choice: wraps and sandwiches. "You can do a turkey, tomato, and avocado sandwich in no time, and that's really filling and nourishing." She also mentioned that salads can be quick, too, if you have prewashed greens and veggies that you can quickly slice up to throw on top. "Be sure to add some type of protein, such as chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, or slices of deli meat," she said. "As for dressing, make a homemade one to last all week or pick up something from the supermarket that isn't full of junky ingredients."