As a college student, cereal has quickly developed into a food group for me. A quick bowl in the morning, a Ziploc bag in the afternoon and a perfect 2 a.m. snack. Coming from a child who ate generic cereals like “Fruity Nibblets” and “Choco-Squares,” which tasted and looked like dog food in their giant bags, good cereal is a blessed thing. From protein to fiber to guiltless indulgence, these cereals can prepare you for a 9 a.m. discussion or get you through your next all-nighter.
Best Dining Hall Option: Life
My grandfather used to enjoy this staple with a mixture of 2% milk, half and half and sugar sprinkled on top. While delicious, his method is clearly a one-way ticket to the frosh 15. With only 120 calories, 6 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of fat in one cup, this cereal can be a perfectly healthy and delicious breakfast served with some skim milk and fresh fruit. For a little extra sweetness, sprinkle some brown sugar on top.
Best No-Guilt Sugar Rush: Honey Nut Cheerios
A personal favorite, Honey Nut Cheerios can be found not only in every grocery store near campus, but also in the dining halls and C-stores. This popular brand is reminiscent of your childhood favorites without the high sugar and fat content. One cup has only 110 calories, 9 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of fat. Whenever I’m longing for Captain Crunch’s sugar rush, I reach for these and forget all about the Captain.
Best Low-Cal Filler-Upper: Special K Fruit and Yogurt
Along with being accessible, (hello, CVS), this new flavor from the popular brand is crazy delicious and filling. Fruit and yogurt clusters mingle with the familiar flakes to provide a little something to stick to your stomach for a long morning. One 3/4 cup serving has 120 calories and 1 gram of fat, making it sinless with a splash of skim milk.
Best Whole Foods Find: Puffins
Whole Foods is a prime place to find weird things, but I’ve found some great staples there as well. Barbara’s Puffins, introduced to me by a health-conscious friend, is a great alternative to that hemp-y health-nut cereal, because it tastes nothing like health-nut cereal. The crispy and puffy grain squares are surprisingly filling due to 7 grams of fiber in one 2/3 cup serving. If you’re feeling cereal-hungry (and who isn’t?), try each flavor from multigrain, to original to peanut butter-chocolate. Sugar and fat content vary by flavor, but you’ll find a few grams of variation is worth discovering your new favorite all-natural cereal.
Best Overall: Kashi GoLean
When I have cereal in the morning, it is usually because I can’t make it to the dining hall and I need to eat in my room. And when that happens, I need to get everything I can from my cereal. GoLean does just that: 13 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and 140 calories in one cup. It’s versatile topped with a piece of fruit or cheese, but the cereal alone is so filling that it is a great choice by itself.
I never expected I would be a “college eater,” but I’ve effectively switched to calculating my meals in terms of dollars, how long they will keep me full and whether I have any swipes left for the week. Cereal has been my “a.m.” saving grace and learning to search for the best bowl is infinitely better than eating the generic brand of Fruity Pebbles.