Adjusting to college can be very tricky. Even the simplest of things like not being able to walk to your kitchen pantry whenever you want is a big change. Indiana University and many others are fortunate enough to have kitchens and lounge areas in most of their dorms. College students usually rely heavily on these areas to prepare food and just relax. However, with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the electricity in these areas have been turned off. It seems a bit strange how people can use communal bathrooms but not a shared sink and stove. I guess it is what it is! Dealing with these circumstances and adjusting to dining hall procedures can leave many students struggling to find ways to switch up their meals and snacks. It is especially difficult for those who don't have easy access to grocery stores with limited transportation options. Here are some hidden gems proven to be useful for IU college student dorm meals. 

Molly Sawyer
Molly Sawyer

1. Find Your Nearest Dorm Store

Indiana University has several stores embedded in dorms and campus facilities that offer frozen food, snacks, beverages, and much more. You can use your dining hall dollars or Crimson Cash so you don't have to carry around physical money to buy whatever you want. The Willkie and Briscoe stores sell frozen and refrigerated  meals that only need to be prepared in the microwave. Super easy and convenient! 

2. Take Advantage of the Plain Pasta in Your Dining Halls

A common option in most dining halls in pasta with marinara sauce. While the marinara sauce is tolerable for some, it is definitely not everyone's favorite! But, there is an option to get plain pasta. After ordering the pasta plain, you can add butter and parmesan or even Alfredo sauce, which are offered at most campus stores. All you have to do is heat up the sauce and voila, you have buttered noodles or pasta Alfredo. Two tasty options that aren't prepared by the dining hall but super easy to make with a little planning and creativity. 

3. Microwavable Meals Aren't That Bad 

When you think of the "typical" college microwaved meal, you might instantly think of Ramen. But there are so many underrated packaged foods that aren't terrible for you and still taste good. For example, the brand "Healthy Choice" offers frozen meals such as grilled chicken pesto with vegetables, grilled chicken marinara with pasta, chicken and rice, and many more. Don't forget about the classics you can't  seem to go wrong with such as Kraft Mac n Cheese and Marie Callender's frozen chicken pot pies. They even taste almost exactly like my grandma's! There are so many tastier and healthier options than Ramen. So switch it up! It can be fun to try new things and see what else is out there. 

Molly Sawyer

4. Use Campus Delivery Services and Discounts 

You can never go wrong with the typical delivery services such as UberEats, Grubhub, and DoorDash for delivering food to your dorm. It is so convenient, and they usually offer special discounts with ordering from certain restaurants or discounted delivery rates. However, Indiana University has its very own "btownmenus" which is a Bloomington based food delivery service with frequent promotions and in many cases, free delivery. Indiana University is also selling "slice the price cards" for $10, which gets you a BOGO free pizza every time you order from the Bloomington Dominos, and the money helps support mental health in the community.

5. Pinterest Meals in a Cup

Surprisingly, there are many variations of snacks that can be made in a mug. A simple search on Google or Pinterest will give you recipes for easy mac n cheese, salads, chocolate chip cookies, tacos, scrambled eggs, and much more. These meals have minimal prep and require little to no kitchen tools besides in some cases, a microwave.