It’s time to throw open those curtains and greet the shining rays of the new school year. Smell that? That’s the freshly brewing coffee that will sustain your early mornings and late nights for the next few months. But no matter how busy you get, you can’t expect to rely on caffeine and ramen to propel you through an entire school year. While lack of time or knowledge has the potential to leave your fridge and freezer as barren as Siberia’s icy expanses, fear not. Here are a few fridge, freezer and pantry essentials to liven up your kitchen and get your year started off on the right foot.

Covering the bases

The goal of these essentials is to find the sweet middle ground between convenience, versatility and nutritional content. An all encompassing kitchen arsenal might include one or two fruits and veggies that are easy to cook or to eat raw, and one or two forms of protein.


Photo by Sarah Joh.

Food pyramid basics

Produce: spinach, carrots, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, avocados (don’t buy them soft), apples, bananas, anything else in season, even the frozen versions of your favorite fruits and veggies.

Protein: eggs, frozen chicken breasts, ground beef, tofu, canned beans, tempeh.

Grains: bread, tortillas, pasta, oatmeal, rice, quinoa.


Photo by Sarah Joh.

The cherries on top

Finally, accessorize your kitchen and the interior of your fridge with: shredded cheese, nut or seed butters, canned goods, nuts, trail mixes, granola bars, chia and basic seasonings like paprika and garlic salt.

Photo by Instagram user minimal_therapy.

Especially vital to staying awake in class are on-the-go foods like granola or trail mix bars, which compose practical vehicles for late-morning breakfasts or snacks between back-to-back classes.

Fiber and protein in the nuts and grains of granola bars will keep you feeling full and alert enough to power you through your day. On the other hand, basic seasonings such as red chili flakes, garlic powder, and the always-in-vogue black pepper will snatch your meals away from the curse of blandness.


Photo by Sarah Joh.

Frugal freezer tip

If you do find life to move too quickly for you to polish off the foods in your fridge on time, not to worry. Most of their lives can be extended with a quick toss into the freezer before they spoil. From the freezer, fruits can be repurposed into smoothies and frozen veggies can be reincarnated into quick dinners like stir fries.

Feel that? That’s the warm and fuzzy sensation of your bare kitchen being filled. To put your new groceries to use, here are 39 foods you should know how to make in college.