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Ask Roni – 10 Healthy Snack Ideas for the Dorm

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Liz asked this great question and I racked my brain for easy dorm snacks that could ward off midnight pizza runs (something I was famous for in college).

Hi Roni, I adore both of your sites. You’re a great inspiration because you not only share your successes but you share the difficulties of losing and maintaining weight loss. It’s nice to see the process, not just the before and after. I am going to be a college senior this year and I live in a dorm. I don’t have much access to a kitchen, but I do have a mini fridge and microwave. I eat most of my lunch and dinners during the week in our caf, which I have figured out how to eat healthy while in there, but I struggle when I’m in my dorm and get hungry. I love to cook your recipes when I am on breaks from college, but do you have any suggestions for healthy food when I’m in my dorm? I want to avoid ordering pizza and junk food this year, so I can stay more on plan. I’m trying to make my last year of college a healthier one and any advice would be great! Sorry this is so long!

Thanks for all your hard work,
Liz

Hi Liz!

Ahhhh the good old college dorm days! Oh how I miss them! :~) Your question is a great one. This is what comes to mind for on hand dorm snacks.

  1. Fresh Fruit. Fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, maybe you can get a hanging fruit basket or a bowl. Fill it with apples, bananas, oranges, plums, nectarines, peaches, grapes even cherry tomatoes and peppers will be ok out of the fridge. These all all easy to eat fruits that require no cutting or mess for the dorm room besides the occasional peel. Keep it in plain site and it may be the thing you start to gravitate towards when you get a night time snack attack.
  2. Light yogurts and sugar free pudding cups. Both great for the mini fridge and require nothing but a spoon!
  3. A box of Thin Crisp Triscuits and some laughing cow light cheese. A great lite cheese and cracker alternative and whole grain!
  4. Soy crisps and salsa. All I can say is YUM! My favorite nighttime snack.
  5. Keep some thin cut lean deli ham or turkey and squeezable mustard and some lite whole grain bread on hand. You can make a quick sandwich and if you have a knife smear one of those laughing cow cheese wedges on.
  6. This may not be for everyone, but when I was in the dorms I’d always keep cans of corn and green beans on hand with a can opener. I can eat both of these cold right out of the can and it’s a much better snack then ordering in.
  7. Boxes of whole grain cereal you can eat out of the box, like frosted mini wheats or Cinnabon Cinnamon Crunch Cereal.
  8. Microwave popcorn!!
  9. Not my first choice now but when in a pinch the frozen Smart Ones or Lean Cuisines offer a nice portion controlled meal. I lived off those for lunches in the beginning of my weight loss journey.
  10. Bags of Baked chips and whole grain pretzels. These are easy to overboard on so be careful but having some grab-able snacks may be what you need to ward off the midnight pizza run. If you don’t trust yourself portion them out or share with the roommate!

I hope that helps!

Thank you SO much for your question. You brought me back to my dorm days and I wish I knew then what I know now! ;~)

-Roni




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Discussion

There are 30 comments so far.

    MizFit

    August 11, 2008

    ooooh can I add peanutbutter? sunflowerbutter? PB2? for the fruit?
    laughing cow cheese?
    soy nuts?
    almonds?
    a hot air popcorn popper?
    beef or turkey jerky?

    OK
    IM DONE :)

    Jennifer

    August 11, 2008

    Also there are probably lots of ways to make the things you already gravitate toward in the middle of the night in a light way.

    1) Nachos: Take some baked tortilla chips and sprinkle low-fat cheese on them, zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. It’s delicious! You can even bulk it up with salsa, black beans, etc.

    2) Pizza: Roni has tons of easy ways to make pizza tricks on greelitebites.com. You can always keep a small jar of pizza or pasta sauce in the fridge, spread some on an english muffin half or whole grain bagal half, then top with some low fat cheese and turkey pepperoni. Again, just microwave until the cheese melts. Not quite the same, but your taste buds can be tricked!

    Just a couple of ideas! Also think about eating things that will fill you up and you can munch on for awhile like carrots (with fat free Ranch or hummus), frozen grapes for a sweet treat, popcorn as mentioned above, or a small piece of dark chocolate (it takes awhile to eat it, and it’s much better than the milk chocolate sister)! Good luck!

    Crabby McSlacker

    August 11, 2008

    I have to concur with whole wheat pretzels, especially if dipped in peanut butter. Not too low cal, but very satisfying.

    (Trader Joes is a good place to find WW pretzels.)

    Oh, and as I have sold my blogging soul to the Hazelnut Council (at least for today) I should also mention that Hazelnuts embedded in a dark chocolate bar make a delicious midnight snack if portion control can be maintained.

    But, um, candy bar… portion control? Not for me, alas… perhaps in some other life.

    Dulcie

    August 11, 2008

    If you look, I believe in with the lunch products.. the puddings, fruit and such, you can find corn and green beans, and perhaps a few others that are in individual servings. Those are great to have around, easy to stick in the microwave for a quick warmup.

    Christy

    August 11, 2008

    Tortillas are good to have around. You can dip them in sugar free apple sauce. Or smear peanut butter or nutella on them then roll them up and microwave for 15 secs. It will sorta be like a crepe. You can also make “lazy man” quesadillas. I take a 1 or 2 pt tortilla and then measure out 1-2 pts of fancy shredded mexican blend cheese and then hit it with my favorite hot sauce…toss in the microwave for 20 seconds and it is a quesadilla (minus the stove top heating).

    If you can manage to cook pasta in the microwave (not sure if it will work) you might be able to create some kind of cold pasta salad. And some low fat or fat free mayo or ranch dressing and then top with veggies and meat of some kind. I think imitation crab meat or shrimp would work the best.

    Oh …shrimp! Cold shrimp with cocktail sauce would be a great snack/meal. It is healthy and yummy.

    I also have a lot of tricks to dress up regular (diet) popcorn. I take hot sauce and some I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray and mix them together. The I sprinkle it on my popcorn. It makes it spicy like buffalo wings (sorta). Also I have friends who put partial packages of dry ranch dressing mix on the popcorn. Another tasty trick I use is some Mrs. Dash seasonsings. Most go well with popcorn. I like doing this because I feel like I am eating chips or something like that due to the flavors.

    Something else low in points would be a low point hot dog bun and a low point hot dog. I think if you research it there are some 2pt total combinations that will fill you up.

    Roni also talks about Vitatops. I have not tried them, but they look good and they are already cooked.

    Roni suggested low point chips. That is a great idea. Especially if you prepackage them out. This will help you to only eat a serving at a time. Roni has a recipe for some AWESOME black bean dip. All you need is a hand help blender and you are good to go (you need all the ingrediants too..lol).

    I hope this helps.

    Christy

    August 11, 2008

    Oh ya…progresso also has some really low point or even no point soups.

    Christy

    August 11, 2008

    Heh…I just thought of some more…

    You can make pinwheels with the tortillas. Spread either low point cream cheese or Laughing Cow cheese, then a hand full of olives, some chopped bell pepper, some green onions….and roll up and eat.

    Also maybe some low point BLT sandwiches with all low point ingrediants. I am not sure what kinds of low point bacon are out there…but I am sure there are a couple.

    Soups are always good. And if you can get something like a goerge forman grill or something like that you could make low point grilled sandwiches to go with your soups.

    I am not sure how many points you are wanting to spend but sometimes when I have extra points I like antipasta. Olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and then some different types of cheese.

    Also maybe some sugar free hot cocao, some broth or maybe some fruit juice. If you buy a hand held blender you could also try to make some smoothies. (Roni has lots of recipes for those too)

    George

    August 11, 2008

    I’m still in college, and my friends and I absolutely love snacking on LesserEvil’s stuff. I bring it to parties and whatnot. It’s pretty delicious. They’ve got both sweet stuff and salty stuff. And no prep necessary. Now if only there weren’t so many calories in beer…

    Allison K

    August 11, 2008

    When I was in the dorms – sandwich fixin’s saved me! I mean, I would really bulk up my sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, alfalfa sprouts, roasted red peppers, banana peppers. My mini fridge was stuffed! And cutting a tomato with a plain old dinner knife was interesting. I’d also portion out Baked Lays and eat them with my sandwich when I knew I’d be tempted in the dining hall.

    I’m sure this is nothing new – but I also loved a pink lady apple and a Tbs of peanut butter or almond butter. Delicious! Of course, as Roni mentioned, I always had yogurt and Smart Ones. Oooo! I almost forgot! I used to ALWAYS eat these little low point waffle/window pretzels with my yogurt. This may seem really weird, but I’d put a dollop of flavored yogurt on the pretzel – and it somehow tastes like pie. One day I’d have “apple pie” the next “key lime pie.” lol! It’s crazy, I know. But, it worked for me when I lived on campus.

    Michele

    August 11, 2008

    Light string cheese is another option. My boyfriend and I eat them all the time since we are in college. If you peel the string cheese small enough the snack seems to last forever. Also what about “Funky Monkey” Freeze dried fruit. Another good one and they are all potioned out for you! You can buy them on Amazon. I also do sugar free or light apple sauce, that seems to be a quick and easy snack. In my college dorm room we had a cutting board and the pampered chef knives that come in a protective case, and that always was nice for cutting up fruit and veggies to snack on.

    Good Luck!!!!

    gottahavefaith

    August 11, 2008

    PEANUT BUTTER to go with whole wheat bread or crackers. Instant nutritious hunger killer. Hummus is also good.

    There are lots of great, healthy canned and dehydrated soups that make good instant meals. Dr. McDougall’s is my favorite dehydrated brand by far (split pea and black bean & lime are good), and there are lots of good canned varieties.

    You shouldn’t live off of protein bars, but they can be lifesaving sometimes.

    I also used to hoard fruit and veggie sticks from the dining hall so that I didn’t constantly have to go to the store to get fresh veggies.

    Sarah

    August 11, 2008

    OMG Roni! I LOVE cold veggies out of a can. It’s a ‘guilty’ pleasure of mine!! At WalMart you can buy the single-serve cans of carrots, corn, etc. Some even have the pull-off lid so you don’t even need a can opener! I’m totally with you on that.

    In the dorms I lived off canned veggies, fruit (clementine oranges are easy to peel, and you can eat a few of them b/c they are small), and chicken salad (canned 98% Fat Free chicken with a spoon of Fat Free mayo) on Wassa crackers.

    Kelsey

    August 11, 2008

    I am also in college right now, and very vividly remember the dorm “mini fridge and microwave” situation. Though now I live in a house and a full kitchen which truly helps with the eating healthy front. In the dorms I snacked on fresh fruit, microwave popcorn, yogurt w/ FiberOne cereal, applesauce w/ cinnamon, granola bars, and baby carrots. I also liked to dip reduced-fat graham crackers in SF pudding for something sweet. And naturally my roommate wanted to make Puppy Chow virtually every weekend…sigh…oh the memories…

    andar839

    August 11, 2008

    hello dear sir, andar here. i enjoy post of yours very much so. i am agree to you. good day.

    adria

    August 11, 2008

    i love eating veggies straight out of the can- I’m all about keeping leftovers cold too, but anyways… make sure you microwave/cook the canned green beans before you eat them. They can sometimes have issues with [something that makes you sick]. my mom, an RN, was telling me about how canned green beans are just something you need to heat up.

    Thanks for all of the tips. I will surely use them since I will be a freshman in a couple weeks!

    Christie

    August 11, 2008

    How about sunflower seeds in the shell! I portion out reduced sodium ones into ziplock snack bags. They are great to munch on and you can eat a ton for 2 pts!

    Liz

    August 11, 2008

    Thanks for answering my question Roni! I was so excited to turn on my computer and see all of your suggestions and all the other suggestions in the comments! It just made my day! I also got my ten pound ribbon today, and so far have lost 11.4 pounds since July so it was a very exciting day!

    Fit Bottomed Girls

    August 12, 2008

    These are all great snacking suggestions, dorm or no dorm!

    Erin

    August 12, 2008

    Have you seen the new Fiber One cereals? I just purchased the “Caramel Delight” variety and they look and taste similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. They would be a great snack… and a bit sweet. They have 9g of Fiber in them – 35% of the daily value needed. Crazy, but they taste good! I’ll have them for breakfast tomorrow!

    Anna

    August 12, 2008

    My latest breakfast is a 1/2 c. of oatmeal, a little more than a 1/2 c. 1% milk, 1 packet of splends, cinnamon and raisins in the microwave for a minute. It tastes like a cinnamom roll. Sometimes I eat along with an egg for protein.

    LMG

    August 12, 2008

    I’m assuming if you’re in a dorm then you’re on a university meal plan with a common dining room. So the best suggestion I can make is plenty of storage containers, including bottles, and a really big bag. I used to sneak fruit, cereal, and milk from the dining room and take back to my dorm room. Hey, I’m paying for the plan anyway and I was not a big eater of a lot of the more “expensive” foods.

    For buying at the store…Fiber One bars are really good. At Trader Joe’s the soy puff snacks are good, along with nitrite/nitrate-free turkey jerky. Trader Joe’s also has dried unsweetened fruit, which can do in a pinch. At Safeway there are the Thomas whole wheat bagels (4 pts.) with lowfat cream cheese, peanut butter, or any other healthy topping.

    I just found the coolest thing…at Costco they have these freeze-dried fruit bags. No sugar, two servings of fruit per bag (apples in one kind of bag, and bananas and strawberries in another). Costco also sells giant boxes of Fiber One bars.

    Annette

    August 12, 2008

    I agree with Mizfit on the pb………..a jar of that could give you your weeks’ supply of protein on a spoon :) Great snack ideas for anyone! Thanks :)

    Erin

    August 12, 2008

    I just got soy crisps today – they are awesome. Much like rice crisps, but with more nutritional value!

    A favorite snack of mine: A large cheddar rice cake with salsa spread on top.

    Alle

    August 12, 2008

    Fiber One bars…don’t need to be refrigerated, they’re delicious and they’re filling!

    Also, any of those 100 calorie packs are good. They keep you from devouring a whole bag of chips or cookies and they’re convenient!

    alex

    August 13, 2008

    I’m in love with Pretzel Crisps. You get them in the deli section. They are kinda like the WW pretzels but these come in a lot of different flavors.
    Good snacking…esp. with Laughing Cow Light cheese!

    I also like frozen grapes when it is hot outside!

    Shanna

    August 13, 2008

    Thanks Roni and everyone else for all the tips. I am starting school again this fall and I am sure I will be needing some studiying food. Great ideas everyone.

    Lindsey

    August 14, 2008

    I love eating the Jacobsen’s snack toast! It is only 40 calories a slice, and I believe it is a 1 point item in the WW core plan! Several flavors…cinnamon, cinnamon raisin, wheat, etc….

    Stephanie

    August 29, 2008

    Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am the Marketing Assistant at World Gourmet Marketing, Sensible Portions brand. I would like to suggest our Multi Grain Crisps as a healthy alternative for a late night snack, or any time you need a little extra crunch. As a recent college graduate I know how difficult it is to eat healthy when living away from home. Check out our website at www.sensibleportions.com for some healthy snack options(all natural, baked, and a good source of whole grains) to keep in your dorm. Our 100 calorie packs make portions control and snacking on-the-go easy too!

    Amy

    October 28, 2008

    i love to have strawberries and a FF chocolate pudding cup. its like having chocolate covered strawberries with so much less fat! Enjoy!

    Kassi

    January 2, 2012

    Omg I just hit the jackpot! One of my new years resolutions is to eat healthier but I find it difficult in the dorm and you all gave so many great ideas! Thank you so much!