College students often get a bad rap for unhealthy eating, and rightly so. Due to factors such as lack of transportation, time, and money, college students tend to develop unhealthy eating habits during their time away from home. While these issues may be unavoidable, there are some snacks out there that taste good, won't spoil easily, and don't cost a fortune, all while being beneficial for your health. As a second-year student who tries to stick to low-sugar, low-sodium, low-empty-carb, and high-protein foods, here are some of my favorite dorm snacks that I've learned to always keep on stash.

1. Dried Seaweed

Available in bulk in Costco and extremely low in calories, dried seaweed is a high source of antioxidants, potassium and iron, and provide smaller amounts of other elements such as calcium and magnesium. Did I mention it also contains 0 grams of trans fat per serving? However, seaweed can be high in sodium, so look for varieties that contain only simple ingredients such as olive oil, seaweed, and small amounts of salt. 

2. Instant Oatmeal

porridge, oatmeal, berry, muesli, yogurt, milk, sweet, cereal, blueberry
Becky Hughes

This one doesn't have to be fancy — I'm talking Quaker Oats that you can buy at CVS in a large, cardboard cylinder. The great thing about oatmeal is that it's cheap, filling, and an easy substitute for mostly empty, processed carbs like microwave pasta or instant rice. I like to mix unsweetened cocoa powder and dried berries into oatmeal for an easy breakfast, pair with sides for a quick dinner, or even soak in almond milk to make overnight oats for the next day. 

3. Flaxseed Crackers

If you've ever wondered what flaxseed is, it's a fiber crop from Egypt and China that's been eaten and used in textiles for thousands of years. I get it, flaxseed sounds pretty unappetizing, but it's been called one of healthiest plant foods on the planet due to evidence that it can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even stroke. Luckily for us, countless varieties of flaxseed crackers exist on the market, so there's plenty of options to choose from. 

4. Dried Berries

While dried berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and cherries are less antioxidant-rich than their fresh counterparts, they are still an excellent and fast-acting source of energy because of the calories and vitamins they contain. That being said, dried berries are not considered a low-calorie food, so it's best to opt for a sugar-free variety as a post-workout or mid-afternoon snack. 

5. All-Natural Canned Tuna

Not only does tuna contain omega-3's that prevents high blood pressure and are good for the heart, tuna also contains nutrients that can lower triglyceride levels, or "bad cholesterol." While the thought of consuming canned fish may sound gross, preservative-free canned tuna options that only contain water, fish, and salt are clean, healthy protein sources that won't give you excess water weight from the sodium often hidden in meat sauces. 

6. Frozen Fruit

This one is a no-brainer. As with dried fruit, frozen fruit loses some of the nutrients found in fresh fruit, but they still serve as a great way to consume your antioxidants and fiber without worrying about the fruit going bad. I like to keep frozen packs of mixed berries, peaches, and mangoes in my freezer at all times so I can whip up a smoothie in my mini food processor for an after-dinner or mid-afternoon study snack.  

7. All-Natural Peanut Butter

Another great source of clean protein, peanut butter contains a high amount of vitamin E and unsaturated fat, which helps in weight and body fat control. Peanut butter also has a long shelf life, making it the perfect healthy dorm snack to store for a semester. Just two tablespoons contains 7 grams of protein, which is enough to dull hunger pains or to provide a quick morning metabolic boost if you don't have time for breakfast. 

8. Unsweetened All-Natural Yogurt

If you've never had unsweetened yogurt, it's pretty sour and tastes a little like cheese. While it's tempting to grab flavors like vanilla or strawberry, always remember that any flavor other than "plain" will only contain added sugar that your body really doesn't need. My go-to yogurt habit is to buy a 32 oz tub of plain all-natural yogurt (one of my favorite kinds is Brown Cow Yogurt) and swirl in natural fruit preserves, fig butter, or unfiltered honey to add flavor. Even eating a small cup for breakfast can cause a healthy spike in blood glucose levels that can give you energy to get your day going. 

9. Cheese

Cheese is one of my all-time favorite foods, and really, who doesn't love cheese in some form or fashion? My favorite thing about cheese as a dorm snack is that while it's not as clean of a protein source as plain yogurt or tuna ("clean" meaning "pure"), cheese tastes great by itself and comes in snack varieties that are easy to take on the go. Like yogurt, cheese is a great, protein-packed breakfast that isn't sugary like a muffin, will actually give you energy, and won't leave you feeling hungry in an hour. 

10. Unsalted Nuts

coffee, sweet, almond, nut
Kirby Barth

Nuts are underrated as power-snacks, perhaps because of their small size that seemingly does a poor job of filling you up. However, nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios are all high in unsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, and protein, much like tuna, making them perfect fistfuls of nutrition that can be easily consumed throughout the day. Nuts are also heart-healthy and contain fiber to aid in the digestive process. Opt for unsalted nuts that give you a protein boost, but don't add sodium to your daily diet. 

The Takeway

People often say, "College is what you make of it," but what you eat in college is also an essential part of your college experience. The next time you're shopping for your semester snack stash, keep in mind both the non-perishables and perishables from this list, and give your body the love it deserves. After all, the fact that we're college students doesn't mean we have to fall under the unhealthy ramen-and-soda-diet stereotype society takes us for.