The transition from a college dorm to an apartment may seem seamless. It’s just a bigger, better dorm with your own bathroom (a true luxury) and kitchen. But living in an apartment isn’t always a fairytale. Essentially, your first apartment is your entrance into adulthood. Now you have to scrub toilets, vacuum carpets, take out the trash, and cook for yourself. Making meals for yourself is especially tough for us college students who are constantly pressed for time, juggling classes, job interviews, club meetings, office hours, and the countless other activities we have on our plate.

The idea of whipping up a fancy plate of risotto and pan-seared salmon every night for dinner or eggs benedict and waffles for breakfast isn’t exactly a realistic one. Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice enjoying our food for the sake of time. That's why I’ve found the best food brands selling products that’ll let college students enjoy meals that are good for the schedules and their appetites.

Yummy Spoonfuls

Gabriela Blanco

Let's be honest, us college students skip breakfast all the time. Yes, it's the most important meal of the day, and yes it's arguably the most delicious meal of the day. But, when it comes down to sleeping an extra twenty minutes or waking up to make eggs and toast, sleep always wins. Thankfully though, Yummy Spoonfuls’ meals are so yummy (duh! the name) and convenient that you can hit snooze an extra three times on your alarm without having to settle for a stale granola bar as you walk to class. In fact, Yummy Spoonfuls grew out of Agatha Achindu’s desire to offer fresh, nutritious organic food that’s convenient for parents to feed their kids.

All their recipes are free of preservatives, added sugars, additives, and fillers. And while we college students aren’t parents with kids, we’re just as pressed for time. I had their frozen burritos and pancakes for breakfast for almost a whole month, and it was a great month at that. Their Egg & Cheese, Tasty Turkey, Beef, and Bean & Cheese burritos were a perfectly sized breakfast portion conveniently made in the microwave and had the ideal tortilla to filling ratio. I also had their Apple & Sweet Potato and Banana & Sweet Potato pancakes, small round circles of fluffy sweet goodness. And despite being frozen, both products tasted fresh, vibrant, and all natural. Needless to say, then, Yummy Spoonfuls is an ideal kitchen staple for an college apartment (they also sell bowls and bites)!

Fly by Jing

Gabriela Blanco
Gabriela Blanco

Another well-known secret among college kids is that making something spicy instantly makes anything taste better. Siracha and Tabasco have practically replaced ketchup and mustard as staple condiments in dining halls, and we squirt spicy mayo onto almost anything imaginable. So, for college students who want to up their dinner-time game, Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp is just the sauce for the job. Indeed, the Sichuan in the name refers to the region in China where it originates. Slather this thick, oily, intensely spicy sauce on any slab of meat, roasted veggie, or fish and your food automatically tastes better and fancier.

I tried it with stir-fried veggies and steak and it was definitely one of the best, easiest meals I've made myself this year. Better yet, it’s all-natural, gluten-free, vegan, and free of MSG, a controversial flavor enhancer commonly found in Chinese food. In other words, if you’re a college student looking to give your grilled chicken a quick, easy, worthwhile upgrade, then you need Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp.

Deep Indian Kitchen

Gabriela Blanco

Now, though spicy sauce is essential for a college apartment, it's not necessarily a full meal. That's why you should also buy anything from Deep Indian Kitchen, which makes all their products from scratch using traditional Indian recipes. Even better, they're big into philanthropy, bringing education to over 22,000 Indian children in over 119 remote villages. So, buying their products keeps your heart happy and your stomach satisfied. I tried their railway chicken curry pouches, potato & pea samosas, garlic naan bread, and chicken tikka masala. The aromatic spices and intense flavors in all the dishes made me feel like I was eating at my favorite Indian restaurant nearby. Though frozen, they felt homemade, fresh, and natural. 

As an added bonus, these meals are easily prepared in the microwave, oven, or stovetop, so I was able to eat them for a fast, filling lunch in the middle of hectic days and didn't find myself hungry until hours later. The variety of their products also makes them an ideal college kitchen staple. Curry one day, samosas the next, you won't get bored of what you're eating (unlike the standard PB&J you'd be making yourself daily otherwise). So if I haven't made it clear by now, do yourself a favor and buy some Deep Indian Kitchen.


Gabriela Blanco

Onto the snack department, ZENB's plant-based veggie sticks are an ideal, healthy pick-me-up for in-between classes and meetings. The name of the company comes from "Zenbu," meaning whole in Japanese, to capture their commitment to using all parts of the vegetable in their products and reducing food waste. In fact, their carrot, beet, pumpkin, corn, and red pepper veggie sticks use everything from the core, peel, seeds, and stem of the plant. I tried their three classic flavors--beet, carrot, and pumpkin--and they were like nothing I've ever had before (I'm not exaggerating).

These veggies sticks look like a typical granola bar but instead taste like sweet, natural, and simultaneously chewy and crunchy versions of the vegetables they're made from. Better yet, they're all under 200 calories, making them a healthier snack than your typical chips and hummus that can easily add up to 500 calories if you don't watch how much you're eating. And since they're individually packaged like granola bars, these sticks are portable and convenient for eating on the go whenever you start to feel yourself getting hangry. 

ANYTHING Trader Joe’s

apple, Trader Joe's, egg, orange, reusable bags, egg carton, grocery story, Grocery Shopping
Jocelyn Hsu

This last suggestion is a shameless plug for Trader Joe’s. They literally sell everything you could possibly need to stock your fridge, freezer, or pantry. From their freezer section, I’d recommend their cauliflower gnocchi (low-carb delicious pasta), any of their frozen dumplings (I’m no expert but they taste very authentic), and all their frozen vegetables (perfect for tossing in a rice bowl or stir fry). In terms of sauces, adding their avocado tzatziki dip or red pepper spread to your meals is another way to make your college dinners more exciting. Lastly, they sell 10-minute farro, barley, and other grains so you can add fast, healthy carbs to your plates. 

To be honest, Trader Joe’s also has great produce, fruit, chips, and meats for fancier more elaborate menus, but that’s beside the point. The point is if you want to feel like a successful and well-fed college kid, then you need Yummy Spoonfuls’, Fly by Jing's, Deep Indian Kitchen's, ZENB's, and Trader Joe’s amazing products in your apartment kitchen.