10 Simple Dorm Kitchen Essentials To Improve Your College Meals

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Here are the dorm kitchen essentials you need for your room!

dorm kitchen essentials

Dorm rooms do not have kitchens inside of them. However, dorm buildings typically have a kitchen on the lowest floor or maybe on another floor for students to cook. It depends on how your building is arranged, but a kitchen should be around for students to share.

Even though you don’t have one in your dorm room, there are some kitchen essentials you’ll need for your dorm room. These items will help you stock up on kitchen supplies you should have !

10 Dorm Kitchen Essentials You’ll Need To Prepare Food

1. Mini fridge

A mini-refrigerator is what you need to store all your food in your dorm room. It’s one of the top dorm must haves that I say you’ll definitely need. I also recommend either splitting the price of a mini-fridge with your dorm roommate or one of you bringing it and the other one bringing a microwave. There are several kinds of mini refrigerators out there that you can buy, but I recommend getting one that has a freezer section as well.

dorm kitchen essentials 

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2. Microwave

Microwaves are also dorm kitchen essentials that you will use and use daily. Most dorm room snacks that I remember had to be cooked or heated in a microwave. Again, this is a dorm room item that you can share the price with your dorm roommate or one of you bring it.

I recommend getting a nice quality microwave. There are cute, pretty ones, but I think that having a high quality one is better than it matching your dorm décor, honestly.

dorm kitchen essentials 

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Related: The Best Realistic Printable Dorm Room Checklist For 2022 | (Free PDF)

3. Plate & Bowls 

So you’re living in a dorm, right? You do not need those fancy ass plates. Those plates at Target or Walmart that are like a dollar are what you need. You’ll be fine with even plastic and paper plates, which I had for the majority of the year.

However, I do not recommend those cheap thin plastic ones from the Dollar General because I had those and after a while they like…had holes in them because my food got too hot and just melted the thing. IDK honestly. They were the worst bowls I had.

Get these from Target ⬇️. I use them everyday and not once have they failed me. They are easy to wash and will last a while—maybe even to your first apartment. I recommend getting at least 2-3 of each.


college kitchen essentials

Buy from Target!


dorm room kitchen essentials

Buy from Target!

4. Utensils 

Again, you’ll be fine with the cheap ones from Target. I actually bought the same ones for my first apartment that I used for my college dorm and apartment. It was these utenstils from Target. They are great and affordable. 

dorm kitchen essentials

Buy from Target!

I currently have this set of utensils for my first apartment. It’s the same, but it’s all a set.

college kitchen essentials for food

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5, Dishwashing Liquid

I recommend having a bottle of dishwashing liquid to wash dishes and to clean anything. There were times I needed to wash fork after walking across campus and it might have fell.

what should be in a dorm kitchen

Buy from Walmart!

Related: 12 Vital Dorm Room Cleaning Supplies You Need To Have a Tidy Room

6. Mugs & Cups

Again, you don’t need to spend tons of money on mugs and/or cups. For cups, I recommend the basic ones from Target—I got the same brand for my first apartment, too. Then, I also recommend getting 1-2 mugs (honestly depending on your coffee or tea drinking habits).

Remember that you don’t want a ton of dishes to wash or have room to store. I remember having plastic cups in my dorm, so it depends on what your perference is.

what should be in dorm kitchen

Buy at Target.com!

dorm kitchen stuff

Buy from Target.com!

7. Ziploc bags

You’ll need Ziploc bags for storage, in particularly for snacks. I used Ziploc bags every now and then and they were useful to bring snacks to class or store food from the dining hall. (Yes, I took food out the dining hall. I was paying for a meal plan and that were not going to stop me from taking food out of there.)

kitchen supplies for dorms 

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8. A few mini cooking supplies

I have this blog post about mini appliances for dorms and it goes into detail about what the various supplies you can get for your dorm. I personally recommend maybe 2-3, depending on what you like to eat and cook.

For example, I’d get the waffle maker. I wish it was around when I was a freshman. I used it so much as a junior in my apartment.

college kitchen essentials 

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I have this rice cooker and absolutely love it. It’s so small and makes enough rice for me for a week.

dorm kitchen appliances 

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Related: 23 Cool Dorm Room Appliances College Freshmen Need To Know About

9. Brita Water Filter Pitcher

The top dorm kitchen essential I think you honestly may need the most (to save money) is a Brita Water Filter Pitcher. This pitcher is my main kitchen item. I use it daily. I wish I would have had in my dorm room refrigerator—though I feel like it may take up a lot of space—but it is worth it.

This will help you save money from 1.) buying water on campus and 2.) buying expensive cases of water. It also is a pain to get water cases into your dorm room because of the walk and especially if you have to climb up stairs.

dorm food essentials 

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10. Pot or Pan

If you are planning to cook or bake, then you can bring your own. I had a small pot for boiling noodles. I also think having a baking pan would be nice if you want to bake cookies.

My dorm room buildings complex (we had 3 dorms living close to each other) had an office where you can borrow various items like cooking wear, board games, outdoor sports equipment, and other stuff. I don’t know if all dorms do that, but I recommend at least having your own small pan or pan in case.

dorm kitchen essentials 

Buy on Amazon!

dorm kitchen essentials

Buy on Amazon! 


Dorm Food Essentials

So there are so many dorm room snacks out there. I honestly don’t recommend buying anything that is super perishable or huge. I also think you should also try to bulk snacks that you absolutely love.




Carton of Eggs



Sandwich Meat




Small Box of Cereal


Fruit Cups

Whatever you want…

7 Dorm Room Food Hacks

1. Take food out of the dining hall.

I honestly never got caught. I lived off of leftovers from the dining hall some weekends. There was an apparent rule during my freshman year (and after I became a junior) that you can’t take food out of the dining hall, but I don’t care and I didn’t know honestly until mid-year.

I paid hundreds of dollars for a meal plan, and I took a meal out whenever I planned to go to there—honestly only when the food was good which wasn’t like every two weeks.

Slice of pizza? Wrap it in a napkin and place it in your backpack. Mac and cheese? Bring a small container and place it in your purse. Besides, the food was going to waste anyhow. If it was good, I wanted seconds for later on.

Honestly, if it’s super strict, then don’t get yourself into trouble. If your school’s dining hall is more lenient, then take advantage and get seconds.

2. Avoid on-campus grocery shopping.

If you have mini-grocery stores on campus, do your best to avoid them. I didn’t have a car my first two years of college, so I was stuck to either riding along with friends or family or going to the overpriced stores on campus. They never had sales, lol.

3. Go to club meetings for food.

I know…it sounds like a bitchy move. But I did it. I had to eat! They had free pizza! Attend a few meetings where clubs that you are interested in and get some free food. You might make a friend. Also sometimes, I’d go and after the meeting, they’ll ask if I want to take some home and…I’m not going to decline free food.

4. Your microwave will become your best friend.

All I did was microwave food freshman year. I’d even buy Chick-fil-a for my afternoon snack and save some for the night to reheat for dinner.

5. Trader Joe’s…

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, go there and stock up on snacks. Most of the meals they sell are microwavable. They also are on the cheaper side.

6. Get a few DASH mini appliances.

DASH makes great mini appliances. You can cook, grill, and make waffles with some of the brand’s appliances. I have a list of them in my dorm appliances blog post here.

7. Look at the dining hall menu and plan.

I know it’ll probably be hard to meal prep. I remember I’d look at my dining hall’s menu for the upcoming week and figure out what I’m going to eat some days. Sometimes I’d figure out if a club meeting might have Raising Cane’s or I may hang out with friends and we’ll live off of dining hall dinner then eat pastries at the café in our library. I know that isn’t meal prepping, but at least have an idea of when you’ll eat or what you’ll eat.

That’s it for all the dorm kitchen essentials, dorm food essentials, and all the dorm food hacks I have.

If this blog post helped you, make sure to pin it for later! ⬇️

dorm room kitchen stuff

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Hi, my name is Ariel. I like self care, Spanish guitars, boybands, and miss travelling. I also am writing a book...kinda. Welcome to my lifestyle blog.

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