Grocery Shopping List For Your Dorm

So you’re all moved into your dorm room and have eaten through the groceries that your parents bought you when they were helping you move in. With limited hours at the on campus dining halls, sometimes you have to eat at home.

Is this your first time grocery shopping alone? If it is, you need to make sure that you are buying groceries fit for storage in your little room.

Mini-Refrigerated Items

Remember, all you have is room for a mini-fridge in your dorm room, so make sure you are thinking about items that you are going to consume regularly. If you like milk but don’t think you’re going to drink it fast enough, don’t buy a full gallon. Also, don’t buy eggs unless you have something to cook them with. A few refrigerated items that are great to have on hand are yogurt, string cheese, juice or salsa.

Frozen Items

If you have a mini-fridge, hopefully there’s a mini-freezer attached! I highly advise you to not pack your freezer with pre-made frozen meals because they tend to be packed with sodium, calories and cholesterol, but they also tend to take up a lot of room unless you pre-made your food in advance and are freezing them as leftovers. Keep just a few things in your freezer, I love keeping waffles, a pint of ice cream, frozen fruits, and hot pockets handy just in case I cave in to my cravings.

Dry Goods

The majority of your grocery list will probably be comprised of dry goods since they have a long shelf life and don’t need to be refrigerated. You should separate your shopping list into two groups, one being items that you need to cook, and the other is food that can just be eaten as is.

  • Foods that need to be cooked- If you can’t make it to the dining hall, you’re going to want something of substance that make a good meal. Brown rice, oatmeal, top ramen, pasta, instant mashed potatoes, and of course popcorn!
  • No cooking required foods- On hand snacks always need to be close, especially for those late nights of studying. Some of my favorite go-to snacks are chips, cereal, trail mix, pretzels, bread and candy of course.


Along with dried goods, canned foods typically have a long shelf life; the only difference is that if you don’t consume them right away you have to transfer them to the refrigerator. Canned beans and veggies are great with pasta or rice for a quick, balanced meal. Chili and tuna are great with rice, bread or crackers that can turn into a nice easy meal. Try out canned fruits too; they’re a great alternative to fresh fruits which spoil quickly. Additional canned or jar items that you can keep are spaghetti sauce, peanut butter and jelly, or salad dressing.


Instead of buying bottled water which not only takes up a lot of room but also adds up if you’re purchasing it weekly, you should keep a water-filter pitcher, they come in all shapes and sizes so you can get one that fits comfortably in your mini-fridge. You could also keep soft drinks, Gatorade, tea and juice

Fitting all of your belongings into your dorm room is difficult enough, but you should definitely keep a stock of food in your room. Just be smart when you shop and don’t turn your dorm into a convenience store. You also have to make sure you don’t buy food that you have to make with appliances you don’t have. Most dorm rooms don’t have a stove in it, or space for a microwave, toaster oven, and refrigerator, so only buy food that you can actually make in your dorm room.

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Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty is a Senior at the University of California, Davis. After graduating in June she hopes to find or invent a career that will utilize her love for writing, spending money and making people laugh. In her spare time you can find her crafting things off of Pinterest, swimming, line-dancing or watching re-runs of “Friends.”