10 Dorm-Friendly Meal Ideas


Ermahgersh — I can’t believe I officially start school tomorrow!

After two years of taking pre-reqs in shady parts of LA, I am finally starting my Masters program at USC tomorrow and I am incredibly psyched.

I went to orientation last week and was in a state of awe as I walked around the campus — not just because it’s so picturesque, but because I truly couldn’t believe I’d made it.

I felt like a bit of an imposter — like any second someone would walk up and snap me out of my dream state, informing me that this was all a mistake. But it hasn’t happened yet, and I feel beyond grateful and blessed.

As I cruised the Trojan campus, I reminisced on my days of undergrad at UofA in Tucson. My bunkmate Heather and I used to have so much fun together — going to date dashes, working out at the rec center, and lounging on “the lawn.”

Unlike most incoming college students, I’d already dealt with the “Freshman 15” during my senior year of high school, and was determined to avoid gaining it back. Heather and I would try to make healthy choices at the student union and by making meals in our dorm room, but it wasn’t always easy.

While I won’t be living in the dorms this time around, I have picked up a few tips that can help any college newbies who are finding it hard to eat healthy on campus. The dorm-friendly recipes below can all be made with a toaster, microwave, or blender, and some are completely appliance-free.


Deluxe Mayo-Free Tuna Melt

This mayo-free melt uses greek yogurt to gain its creamy consistency. Canned tuna is an awesome dorm-room staple since you don’t need a refrigerator to store it. However, I highly encourage you to check out the Hello Kitty Mini Fridge if you’re in the market – so cute!

Instead of using an oven to melt the cheese, pop this baby in a microwave or toaster oven.


Mexican “Baked” Sweet Potato

This is one of my favorite meals — like ever. Even though I have an oven, I still make this on the reg. The potato is actually “baked” in the microwave FYI, hence the quotation marks.

mason-jar-quinoaMason Jar Tex Mex Quinoa via Fit Foodie Finds

This high-protein, vegetarian recipe is super easy and adorable. A tangy cilantro lime dressing adds a burst of flavor that’s sure to jolt you awake if you’re nodding off during an Algebra assignment.

Cook the quinoa in the microwave using Lee’s easy guide.


Toaster Oven Baked Tofu via Eating Bird Food

Make crunchy, tasty, chicken nugget-like tofu to toss in salads and wraps with Brittany’s easy to follow guide. It’s also super yummy by itself or dipped in ketchup!


The Basic B*tch Salad via immaeatthat

I almost died when I saw this on Kylie’s blog. She hit the nail on the head incorporating all the #stuffgirlslike right down to enjoying this “basic” meal on Bachelor Mondays.

Despite its title though, this salad is anything but basic. It is full of healthy ingredients and dorm-friendly vegetarian protein. Buy pre-made quinoa and tofu or cook it yourself using the guides above from Fit Foodie Finds and Eating Bird Food.


Simple Green Gazpacho

According to Well & Good, cold soups are so hot right now.

This one is sooouper easy to make, and only requires a blender. You could also use a Magic Bullet if you have one in your dorm room, just make sure to dice the veggies up a bit first.


Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

You’ll need a spiralizer for this one, but getting a spiralizer should already be at the top of your to do list because they’re pretty much the most amazing cooking tool since the discovery of fire. You could also make not-as-pretty noodles with a veggie peeler, but whyyyy?

Pick up some pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store and puree the pesto in your magic bullet/blender — or buy pre-made pesto for an even easier prep.


Coconut Cream Peanut Butter Bites via Cotter Crunch

These tasty little morsels are perfect for popping in your backpack to keep you fueled for school. Want more? Lindsay’s got tons of tasty no-bake bites on her blog!


Apple Pie French Toast Oatmeal via The Big Man’s World

Arman is the king of microwavable meals and this oatmeal bowl is right up there with my favorite quick and easy breakfast recipes from this genius.

P.S. — His 3-ingredient microwavable english muffins were my life preserver during a brief gluten-free stint.


Berry Beautiful Overnight Oats

And it just wouldn’t be an oven-free roundup without an overnight oats bowl. Overnight oats — aka the process of soaking old-fashioned oats in milk overnight — were my breakfast staple in college. This one is particularly pretty, tasty, and easy!

So you see, eating healthy in the dorms doesn’t have to be that hard.

Side note: If anyone tells you that microwaves are bad for your health, they’re dead wrong. Microwaves are totally safe (as long as you’re not nuking plastic in them), and in many cases they retain more nutrients than other heating methods.

For instance, steaming vegetables in the microwave will prevent a lot of the water-soluble vitamins from leaching out — more so than boiling. I do this by putting veggies in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl with a little bit of water, and covering it with a ceramic plate that fits like a lid. Microwave for about 3-5 minutes depending on the food.

I hope these dorm-friendly meal ideas will help ease the stress of healthy eating for you this semester, so you can spend your time worrying about school work instead!

Although — let’s be honest — you’re probably just thinking about all the cute boys 😉


Weigh In: Got any great dorm-friendly meal ideas to share? Did you live in the dorms in college or are you currently living in one?


  1. i’d go back to college for all these! haha

  2. Just dropped my daughter off at college last week. I will send this to her for ideas. Good luck with your program sounds really exciting!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…My First Client!~ The Husband ProjectMy Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Thanks Deb!! I can’t wait for tomorrow 🙂 And thank you for sharing this with your daughter – I hope it helps and that she has a wonderful semester!!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Whit and congrats again- Can’t wait to follow your new (local) journey. 🙂
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…No Bake Cookies and Cream Protein BarsMy Profile

  4. Jennifer King says:

    I need this post- going back to school (I teach) these would be great to have in my classroom for my lunch.
    About how many calories a day do you aim for? I aim for 1500- I started working serious in June and since I started I’m gaining weight 🙁 I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am doing cardio and then lifting weights after. My cardio session is an hour and then about 15-20 mins of weight training after. )

    • Whitney English says:

      Hi Jennifer! Glad to hear these meals will help! I’m not sure exactly what is going on with you since I don’t know your exact diet/needs. Why don’t you email me directly and I’ll see if I can help 🙂 english.whitney@gmail.com xo

  5. I hope you enjoy the start of being back at school! I can’t wait to see what comes out of your study! Loving all of the meal ideas, except I will be totally honest and say I am not 100% convinced on the cold-soup front. Maybe this recipe will turn me!?

    We had all food provided in our ‘hall’ (New Zealand name for dorm), and it wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great either though 😉
    Krissy @ Pretty Wee Things recently posted…Healthy banana chocolate chip ice-creamMy Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Thanks girl!!

      Yeah, cold soup takes some getting used to. Perhaps think of it as a savory smoothie instead? Give it a try though, I’ll bet you’ll like it! xo

  6. Yum, this all looks significantly better than what I ate in college. Good luck with your first week of school, Whitney!

    • Whitney English says:

      Haha yeah, I a little too much pizza and Pei Wei in college 🙂 Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  7. Amanda Howard says:

    Oh Whitney I LOVE your blog! It’s the best!
    Thanks for the info about microwaves being safe, it’s always worried me! I never put plastic in so now it’s nice to know it’s safe too!

    • Whitney English says:

      You’re so sweet – thank you Amanda!! Glad to have been able to shed some light on the microwave situation. I know a lot of people are unsure about them!

  8. Hi Whitney, Everything looks delicious and perfect students, I’m sure my dorm mate will love to try it especially the apple pie French toast oatmeal.
    Issho Genki recently posted…Our Body Needs This to Be HealthyMy Profile

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