Life in college is often romanticized—think of freedom, first-time experiences, and friends for a lifetime. Yet the reality is often a whirlwind of studying, exams, part-time jobs, and yes, the universal struggle: what to eat. 

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Key Takeaways:

  • College life leaves little time for proper eating, affecting students universally.
  • Lack of good food impacts both physical health and emotional joy in students.
  • The article suggests easy, dorm-friendly recipes to help students eat healthier.

The Complicated Relationship with Food in College

College can be the best time of your life, they say, but no one ever talks about how complicated something as basic as eating can become. For many students, the college experience is not just about expanding their minds but also about learning to navigate adult responsibilities. One such responsibility that tends to fall by the wayside is eating properly. The hustle of assignments, classes, and social commitments can turn mealtime into a rushed, thoughtless task—just something to get out of the way.

This common issue seems to unite students from all backgrounds: private and public colleges; ages: millennials and Gen Z and more. That’s why, students decided to take the bulls by the horns and find ways to eat healthily in college in the 21st century.

“I don’t have time to cook or grocery shop, some days I don’t even have time to hit the dining hall.”

Every student must have said this once in their lifetime. The result? A diet largely consisting of frozen pizzas and hot pockets from the gas station. For those lucky enough to have a food pantry on campus, some basic nutrition might come in the form of fruits and occasional snacks. Yet, despite this, most meals still don’t qualify as ‘meals.’ Another scenario is also rather common:

“I treat myself to eating out at least once a week so I at least feel like I’m eating real food. It doesn’t bother me much anymore, I just feel like eating is such a chore.” 

This reveals a significant emotional toll. The joy and satisfaction that should accompany a good meal are replaced with a mechanical sense of “must eat to survive.” Food becomes an inconvenient necessity, robbing you of one of life’s basic pleasures.

Eating in college

Food is deeply intertwined with our culture, social lives, and mental states; when we dissociate it from these elements, we not only lose out on one of life’s fundamental pleasures but also risk compromising our overall well-being.

“I ended up eating less and less because food stopped giving me joy. But I found an easy way out. I switched to protein shakes and drinkable yogurts because somehow it was convenient to drink my calories than eat them.”

This is not just about eating anymore; it’s about well-being, physical health, and mental resilience. All are compromised when nutrition is inadequate.

“Do you have any cooking skills? If you do, it takes about 15 minutes of prep and an hour of sitting while it cooks to make something like turkey chili, or chicken, rice, and vegetables for a couple of days.” 

For vegetarians, options like overnight oats can serve as a lifesaver. 

“I like to make overnight oats on Sunday evenings because they last me for five breakfasts from Monday to Friday. I also add a tablespoon of chia seeds for fiber.” 

Meal prep is indeed an effective way to balance a busy schedule with healthy eating. The rise of ‘dump’ crockpot recipes, where you just throw in the ingredients and leave it to cook, provides another convenient option. The damage from a period of poor eating habits may last even after the college years.

“My eating experience made a lasting impression. Even after returning home for the summer, the consequences haven’t gone away. I don’t really care for food. I don’t look to food for fun or joy.”

However, it’s crucial to realize that this journey can also be about rekindling a healthy relationship with food. Even if you’re doing 100 hours of work a week, it is still a very good use of time to cook because eating good food will pay dividends in productivity and long-term health. This is not merely about enjoying food; it’s about self-respect and taking care of your body, so your body can take care of you. When we change our perspective on eating from a chore to a form of self-care, we can make room for a better, healthier life—not just in college, but beyond.

10 Healthy Dorm Meals

College life can be hectic, making it a challenge to prepare nutritious meals in a dorm setting. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your well-being for convenience. Here are 10 easy and healthy dorm meals that you can whip up in no time.

DishWhy This Meal is NutritiousThe Recipe
Cooked EggHigh in protein, optional veggies can add nutrients.In a mug coated with cooking spray, beat one egg, a splash of milk, a pinch of salt, and optional shredded cheese. Microwave for about a minute or until set.
Overnight OatsRich in fiber and protein.Combine 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats with 1 cup milk in a jar. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. Add toppings like sliced fruit, nut butter, and honey or maple syrup in the morning.
Baked PotatoProvides potassium, fiber, and vitamins from broccoli.Poke holes in a cleaned potato with a fork and microwave for about 8 minutes. Top with butter, shredded cheese, and pre-washed broccoli florets.
Rice and BeansHigh in protein and fiber.Drain and rinse canned beans. Microwave for about a minute or until steaming. Combine with a heated pouch of pre-cooked rice. Top with seasoning or salsa.
Ramen “Plus”Adds fiber and nutrients with veggies, and protein.Cook ramen according to package instructions, but add a handful of frozen veggies and extra protein like peanuts, scrambled egg, or deli chicken. Add some sweet/hot chili sauce for flavor.
French Toast in a MugProvides protein and optional fiber from whole-grain bread.Beat one egg and a glug of milk in a mug. Rip up bread and add it to the mug, mixing well. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then check. If still soggy, cook for another 30 seconds. Top with syrup, nut butter, honey, or berries.
Double-Bean BurritosRich in protein and fiber from beans.Spread refried beans on a tortilla, add a spoonful of another type of rinsed and drained beans, some salsa, and cheese. Roll up and microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Microwave NachosWhole-grain chips add fiber; protein can be enhanced with chicken.Cover a plate with chips, add a layer of cheese. Microwave for 30-60 seconds. Enjoy with salsa, sour cream, or other toppings.
Microwave “Fried” RiceProvides protein, fiber, and nutrients from veggies.Spray a mug with cooking spray, add 1/4 cup of frozen mixed vegetables to a cup of cooked rice, splash with soy sauce, and microwave for 1 minute or until hot. Add leftover chicken or a scrambled egg for extra nutrition.
Power SaladRich in protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins.Combine one bagged salad kit with 1/2 cup drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1/2 cup edamame, a handful of almonds, sliced apple or other fruit, additional veggies, and salad dressing.

Each of these meals is not just convenient but also packed with nutrients, making them perfect for busy college students looking to maintain a balanced diet. All you need are some simple ingredients and a microwave to prepare these healthy dorm meals.


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