Ultimate Healthy College Grocery List

A dorm-friendly healthy college grocery list…

There are many reasons why you should consider buying your groceries during college.

First, to save money. Expenses during college are very high. Therefore, it makes sense to try to stay on a budget with costs you can control. Eating out or full meal plans are significant cost burdens.

Second, to stay healthy. It is a known fact that the hectic lifestyle of college students leads to unhealthy habits. When you purchase groceries, you know which products you will be consuming and how to control your intake of specific elements such as unhealthy fat or sugar.

Third, to be happier. Class schedules are demanding, with classes and group meetings scattered throughout the day. Snacking in a balanced way through your day helps you stay motivated and continue to function correctly. A cup of coffee or a donut can also wake you up, but you will end up crashing at the end.

I am a recent college grad. During my studies, I had a partial meal plan for a couple of years. With that plan, I was able to eat once a day in the school cafeteria. For all other meals and snacks, I had an assortment of groceries in my dorm room. It helped me cut living costs, and I stayed relatively healthy through stressful times.

Now that I am done with college life, I would like to share a few of my college grocery lists. Generally, there are two types of lists—one for light meals and snacking and others for a full diet. Most dorm rooms have a shared kitchen where you can cook meals and store your groceries. Unfortunately, it is challenging to prepare a homemade meal every day.

The Healthy College Grocery List


  • Multigrain bagels/bread
  • Lean turkey meat
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Eggs (maybe with a microwave egg maker)
  • Almond milk
  • Granola
  • Frozen fruit for smoothies
  • Natural orange/cranberry juice


  • Dry fruits
  • Seasonal fruits: keep in mind apple and pears tend to last longer than soft fruits like peaches
  • Hummus and pita
  • Easy sandwiches: Bread + PB&J, canned tuna or canned chicken
  • Celery and Carrots + Ranch (or other dressing)
  • An assortment of tea and coffee: You will need them, either to relax or focus
  • Cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Popcorn


If you have access to a kitchen, you can try to make a more substantial meal. The list below has some examples of basic ingredients for a healthy diet. Make sure to add some seasoning of your like to upgrade your meal.

  • Sides
    • Whole grain rice
    • Frozen veggies bags (easy prep in the microwave)
    • Quinoa
    • Tortillas or wraps
  • Main course
    • Thin crust frozen pizza (not the healthiest item, but better than regular takeout options)
    • Salad mix: add tuna or chicken for protein
    • Pasta and marinara
    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Frozen meat: Chicken breasts and tilapia fillets


Do not forget to buy the basics below to stock up a mini pantry if you are planning to cook full meals.

  • Salt and pepper
  • Spices
  • Seasonings
  • Oil
  • Salad dressing
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Non-stick spray

Useful Small Appliances

Space is limited in small college dorms or college apartments. However, some cheap and easy kitchen appliances can widen your meal selection. The main appliances I recommend for college students are the following:

  • Toaster or panini press
  • Mini waffle maker
  • Electric kettle
  • Small microwave
  • Mini fridge

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