From late night deadlines, first jobs, and first failures to parties and meeting lifelong friends, college is a notorious coming-of-age period. But one thing they don't print in the handbook of adulting is that college food pretty much always sucks (hey, I won't sugarcoat it). No matter how high your college is ranked (shoutout to Wash U at No. 9), the food tends to be lackluster compared to the flavorful comforts of home. Yet, all hope is not lost. Here's a list of the five spices you need to keep your college food interesting. Independence never tasted so good. 

Everything But The Bagel Seasoning

Who knew that the combination of garlic, onion, poppyseeds, and salt could pack such a punch? These iconic, early morning breakfast flavors are mouthwatering on more than just a bagel. This savory blend of core spices can add a little spike of salivating saltiness to just about, well, everything: hummus, cream cheese, avocado toast, popcorn, and even instant ramen (a pinnacle of college eating).

Hot Sauce

hot sauce, ketchup, condiment, sauce, pepper, chili
Stephanie DeVaux

According to critically acclaimed food writer Samin Nosrat the four main flavors to any dish are: salt, fat, acid, heat. Whether it be Tabasco or Chohula, a tiny dash of hot sauce goes a long way and covers a lot of flavorful ground. The salty and acidic tang of vinegar tickles your tongue while chili peppers tickle the back of your throat, making hot sauce the perfect punch for your next meal. A small dash turns avocado into a mouthwatering snack, transforms eggs into a spicy morning wakeup, and makes any wrap just a bit hotter.

Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes, like edible matte rubies, provide gems of deep crimson flavor atop any meal. A shake of these flakes over avocado toast adds a warm, sharp heat and floral spiceness to a creamy and rich morning. A dash on pizza turns a greasy, late-night slice into something heavenly. A pinch on pasta turns pesto or red sauce into something saucier (if you know what I mean).


syrup, sweet, honey, honey dipper
Sam Jesner

Pooh Bear was definitely onto something when he started his own honey shelf in the Hundred Acre Woods. This liquid spice is the perfect all natural sweetener for tea, coffee, a bowl of cheerios, or even avocado toast (if you like it Kylie Jenner style). Plus, you get tons of health benefits when you incorporate a dash of honey into your routine. Due to its antibacterial properties, honey serves as a sweet oral salve for sore throats—second only to chicken noodle soup as a go-to, cold-fighting food.


Do you ever wonder where cinnamon's woodsy flavor comes from? Cinnamon is actually derived from the aromatic, dried, inner bark of Cinnamomum trees (a genus of evergreen). The bark has naturally warm, floral, and earthy notes. And as an all-purpose spice, cinnamon adds a layer of flavor to apples and extra comfort to oatmeal. When mixed with honey, it serves as a low-budget dorm room maple syrup, which is a delicious way to top off your next stack of pancakes. 

So, while college is inevitably a period of transitions, don't let lackluster food hold you back from having the time of your life. These five spices can help you make sure that even the blandest of dorm food has a little variety and, most importantly, flavor. Embrace the spice of life.