Life as a college athlete can become a bit of a scheduling challenge. Between balancing your classes, studying for exams, going to practice, getting enough sleep, and having some form of a social life, it’s actually easy to forget to eat enough throughout the day! It’s important for everyone to maintain good nutrition in college, but is especially so for student athletes in order to maximize performance in your sport and to perform well in your studies. Without adequate nutrition, student athletes are also at higher risk of developing an injury or at the least, not reaching fullest performance potential while competing. Thankfully, there are many healthy dorm recipes for athletes to fill the gaps when you can’t make it to the dining hall!
Why Make Food in my Dorm Room?
It’s valid to wonder why you’d look for healthy dorm recipes versus heading to the dining hall or campus grab and go. Here are some reasons why you may want to make food in your room:
- For some student athletes, cost may be a factor. If you’re on a smaller campus with limited dining hall availability and hours, or the only one open is far from your first class and you’d rather get extra sleep, you may need to pay outside of your dining hall plan for a meal at a grab and go on campus. The average cost per day to eat on campus is $6.25 per meal. You can make 48 servings of oatmeal for the same price!
- Time is always a factor for student athletes. As mentioned earlier, life in your shoes can be hectic and you might not always have time to sit and have a full meal in the dining hall or wait in long lines for your preferred meal. If you find yourself settling for less balanced options or always heading to the pizza section for convenience, it may be less time intensive to make on-the-go food in your room. You can even set aside time on less hectic days to prep healthy dorm recipes to take with you on the busier days. So long as you’re including enough nutrients, this can help ensure that you have energy to perform physically and mentally.
- Satisfaction with meals is a benefit to prepping your own, too. It gives you the opportunity to customize your meals, catering to your specific tastes and energy needs, especially if you’re sick of that same chicken dish that’s at lunch every Wednesday. Keep flavors you enjoy on hand in the form of a few blended spice mixes and sauces in your fridge.
What type of food can I prep in my dorm?
There are many meal and snack options for a college student on a budget with just your fridge, shelf stable options and your trusty microwave and blender. Here are some quick mini-meal ideas for breakfast, pre-practice, and post practice.
Healthy Dorm Recipes for Breakfast
Eating a nutritious breakfast provides your body with fuel to start the day, energizing your always repairing muscles, as well as your training sessions and your brain for classes and studying. If you tend to skip this important meal, check out our post on breakfast for athletes!
- Oatmeal. Oats are a cheap, nutritious way to start your day. Oats are rich in carbohydrate, which are the most efficient energy source for your exercising muscles and brain. Adding protein in the morning is also important, and you can easily incorporate it by prepping oats with milk or soymilk instead of water and topping with nuts and seeds. The latter also provide more filling fiber and healthy fats, and topping with fruit gives you more energy, nutrients, antioxidants and flavor. Check out some of our favorite overnight oat recipes for athletes that you can prepare in advance to fuel at any time of day!
- Greek Yogurt Parfaits. What makes greek yogurt different from regular yogurt is the way it is processed. Greek yogurt is filtered to be more rich in protein, so it’s great for breakfast to get more of this nutrient in, or at post-workout snack time. Much like oatmeal, you can add different foods to greek yogurt to make it even more nutritious. Snag an extra banana from the dining hall and layer in plenty of cereal or granola to ensure you get those carbs you need. It’s a great no cook breakfast option.
- Egg Sandwiches. These are a great “grab and go” option – and believe it or not, there’s no stovetop required! Simply beat 2-3 eggs in a microwave safe dish, and cook in the microwave for 40-60 seconds. Place the cooked egg and some cheese, avocado or hummus in between a sliced english muffin for a quick source of carbohydrates and protein in the morning. You can even add fresh spinach before or after microwaving, or at least have some fruit, such as an orange on the side.
Pre-Workout Dorm Recipes
Having an energy dense mini meal 3 hours before practice ensures you’ll maintain energy and keep fuel stores up for your training session. Here are health dorm recipes that you can pack for classes, the library, or other campus activities.
- “Snack Meal”. Trail mix can be prepared in large batches in advance, making for an easy grab-and-go option. While you can pre-portion your favorite combo into small containers or snack sized bags, having a large batch makes it easy to add to a bento style lunch box that you can take on the go. For carbohydrates to add, try mini pretzels, dry cereal, dried fruits, chocolate chips, or popcorn. For some fat and protein, choose your favorite nuts and seeds, noting peanuts and pistachios will be higher in protein than other nuts.
Pair the trail mix in your box with cheese sticks or hardboiled eggs, crackers and baby carrots. All easy enough to keep in your dorm and build together into a nutritious snack meal.
- Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. This is another easily packed snack with a good balance of carbohydrates and protein to fuel your body before your workout. This is also a great use for any bananas that have ripened past your liking. You can also replace a ripe sliced banana with a fruit spread or berries and then add milk or juice on the side for more energy.
- Loaded Sweet Potato. Fun fact- you can cook whole sweet potatoes in your microwave in just 5 minutes! Simply poke the potato a few times with a fork to allow for steam to escape and cook on high for about 5 minutes. Sweet potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates that will energize you similar to bananas, and they are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Keep to lean protein additions when enjoying this as a pre-workout meal. Think cottage cheese, canned chicken breast, or, if you eat them regularly, canned beans. Add more flavor and satisfaction with sour cream, salsa, a little shredded cheese, or avocado. If it’s closer to your training session, top with nut butter to keep it a bit ligher.
Post-Workout Dorm Recipes
You’ve just had an intense workout which depleted most of your energy stores and did some damage to your muscles. As a student athlete with a heavy training schedule, it’s important to have something within 30 minutes of training if possible. If you don’t have time for a meal, be sure you have a snack in that time frame, and then a full meal within 2 hours. This best replenishes muscle carbohydrate stores and kick starts muscle repair. Here are some ideas for post workout meals to help you recover in your dorm room.
- Avocado Toast with Eggs. Eggs don’t have to be just for breakfast! Have a few pieces of toast (carbohydrates) with mashed avocado (healthy fat + fiber) and top with 2-3 eggs (protein) to give your body the energy nutrients it needs to recover with each delicious bite. Each ingredient is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals – including the egg yolks, so don’t skip those! Since it’s likely that all you have is a microwave, scrambling as mentioned earlier works as well. Add a piece of fruit and or some milk on the side for long tough workouts or when you might not be eating for awhile after.
- Tuna Salad with Baked Pita Chips. Tuna salad doesn’t have to be just for sandwiches, you can use it as a dip too! Tuna is a lean protein, and also contains important omega-3 fatty acids. Try to keep chunk light tuna on hand vs. albacore or yellowfin, since the latter are high in the neurotoxin mercury. You can make the tuna salad with mayo or cut the mayo and use hummus or avocado and even a spicy mustard for flavor. Pair with ample amounts of baked pita chips and a dorm room smoothie.
- Cottage Cheese and Fruit Bowl. Did you know that 1 cup of lowfat cottage cheese provides 28g of protein? That’s just over what you’d get in four ounces of chicken breast. Cottage cheese is inexpensive, and can be easily stored in your mini fridge. You can enjoy it savory by mixing in some steamed veggies in your microwave and then pairing with toast or microwavable rice and your favorite seasoning. For a sweet option, add in your favorite fruit (fresh or frozen), cereal, and some honey or maple syrup. This is a good option if you’ve trained late at night or if you’ll be having another meal with more carbs in a few hours.
Life as a student athlete can be challenging, but creating healthy dorm recipes for athletes doesn’t have to be. Let us know what you plan to try in the comments, or tell us your favorite recipe that isn’t listed here!
Written by Sam Hollister.
Sam just completed her internship to become a registered dietitian. Before pursuing a career in dietetics, Sam graduated with a degree in culinary arts and worked in the restaurant industry.