School Resources

How to Cook in Your Dorm Room

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Sep 13, 2021

Moving into a new dorm room is an exciting feeling! A new chapter of your life begins in the dorm hall, and the memories made in college last a lifetime. To make the most of dorm life, it’s essential to get a solid routine in place in advance.

One important step includes preparing your daily meals. While you may plan to purchase some meals at the campus dining hall, cooking meals in your dorm can be convenient when your schedule is busy and can even save you money overall.

How to cook in your dorm:

To begin planning your meals, consider the tips in the following guide for how to cook in your dorm room.

Step 1: Ask about the rules and restrictions

Each college campus will have different rules and restrictions for students to follow while living in the campus dorms. These rules may even change depending on the dorm hall, so be sure to contact campus staff or your resident assistant (RA) once you’ve moved in.

Some dormitories may not allow students to have toasters, microwaves, mini-refrigerators, or other pieces of cookware, so checking in about these items in advance can help you prepare in advance. At the same time, some dorms will provide a shared kitchen that houses larger kitchen appliances for you and other residents to share. You can expect to follow basic hygiene rules while cooking in shared spaces, like cleaning up after yourself, labeling your items, and washing shared dishes.

Step 2: Gather the right cookware for your dorm

Once you have touched base with campus staff and have a list of approved items, it’s time to secure your cookware. The items you will need to cook in your dorm room will depend on the types of food you plan to eat.

Items like rice cookers, microwaves, blenders, pots and pans, griddles, and panini presses are all standard pieces of cookware that can be used to make food in a dorm. Don’t forget to stock up on tableware and utensils such as plates, bowls, cups, food storage containers, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, and other items needed to cook and serve your food.

To make the clean-up process easier, ensure you have cleaning supplies such as dish soap, sponges, towels, and a drying rack handy.

Step 3: Plan your dorm meals in advance

Between classes, study sessions, and extracurricular activities, college can be overwhelming for many students. To get into a good routine, consider planning your meals and snacks in advance.

Meal planning can help simplify your eating habits so that you have more time to focus on what’s really important. To get started, first consider your schedule.

Find a time during the week that is most convenient to do your shopping and select foods that are relatively quick, simple, and easy to make during the timeframes you have in mind. On busy days, consider buying a meal at your dining hall. More relaxed days may warrant a meal in the dorm, and you may also want to plan to eat out at restaurants on the weekends or during special outings. While planning for your week’s meals, consider stocking up on quick and easy snacks that may come in handy when you’re on the go!

Step 4: Cook dorm meals that work best for you

Instant Ramen Noodles in a Cup with Beef Flavoring

The meals you decide to cook in your dorm room should work best for you. This can mean many things to many people, but as a general guide, consider your personal tastes, your dietary needs, your schedule, and the level of convenience certain foods provide.

Of course, you will want to select meals that you like and keep your health and wellness in mind—have a good mix of fruits, vegetables, and other light snacks available while choosing from your favorites.

You’ll also want to consider how long each meal takes to cook and how that prep and cooking time will intersect with your schedule. Stocking up on ingredients that take a long time to prepare and having a tight schedule may mean buying more food than you actually have time to eat.

At the same time, consider mixing up your groceries now and then. Eating the same meals and snacks each week may get old, so be on the lookout for alternatives to your favorites or ways to add variety to familiar recipes.

Some common dorm room meals and snacks include:

Step 5: Keep cooking in your dorm room simple

When it comes to cooking in your dorm room, you’ve got plenty of time to find the right balance. If you’re just getting into the swing of dorm life, try different meals out each week and see which work best for you.

Keep a list of the meals and snacks that are quick, tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. This list can help you plan your meals through college and give you ideas for how to mix them up every once in a while. Overall, however, try to keep it simple. College is a significant milestone, and your priority should be on your studies; feel free to take shortcuts with your meals when you need to without feeling guilty!

Start cooking in your new dorm room with fresh groceries from Instacart

Instacart offers college students a convenient way to shop for their groceries online! Instead of scheduling time out of your day to shop for groceries, browse Instacart’s wide selection of grocers and retailers for the items on your shopping list. Select your ingredients, and choose a convenient time to pick up your groceries or to have them dropped off at your residence hall.

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