As mentioned in my last post, I am starting a new series of posts called HECTIC, which stands for “Healthy Eating College Tip Thursdays.” I know the acronym doesn’t fit exactly, but HECTIC relates to my life and sounds a whole lot better than HECTIT or HECTT.

I should be publishing a page soon in the Header for HECTIC, so please be sure to check back there soon.

In college, you are mainly eating and cooking for one. Therefore, you may not eat fruits, vegetables, and other perishable products as quickly. These will go bad, so it is important to have a well-stocked pantry full of non-perishable (or foods that don’t perish as quickly) items. In a dorm this may be a large storage bin or bucket.

itso Large Polka Dot Fabric Bin.Opens in a new window

I bought this bin from Target for $10 to place all my pantry items in. (pic source)

Peanut Butter

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This is on the top of my list because I eat it almost everyday. Not only does it taste delicious, but it is packed with protein, healthy fats, and minerals. Eat it by the spoonful or spread on crackers, fruit, or chocolate!

 Unsweetened Chocolate

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You may not be a fan yet, but try it a few times and you will! It has intense chocolate flavor for true chocoholics. Full of antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. Read more here.


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Bananas have a great outer layer to protect them, and they don’t require refrigeration. Eat with peanut butter or make cookies! If they start getting too brown for your taste, freeze or make into a smoothie.


Canned Goods

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Canned items last a very, very long time. I like stocking up on all-natural soups (Amy’s brand sells a lot of vegan and dairy-free products), beets for snacking, and beans for topping salads or making cookie dough.


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Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, cashews, and hazelnuts. Great for snacking on-the-go and a good source of minerals, protein, and healthy fats. They can help make you satisfied longer, too. Try making my Roasted Chili Lime Nuts.


Chia is a great superfood (you can read more about it here). I like keeping them on hand to throw in my oatmeal, make chia pudding, put in water for hydration, or simply add a handful to any recipe.


Oats are cheap. Perfect for college students. I have a lot of recipes for oatmeal (Oatmeal Raisin Bizookies pictured above), but they are also great to cook up a comforting bowl of creamy oats after a long day at school. They are also extremely healthy!

Rice Cakes

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Gluten-Free and made with whole grains. I like to spread a bit of peanut butter and maybe a smashed banana on these for an easy sandwich. Make sure you look for the brown rice, no-sugar added kind.


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Popcorn is a whole grain filled with fiber. Make your own with an air-popper or on the stove to avoid nasty chemicals and oils. I like using extra-virgin coconut oil to pop mine, and I sprinkle it with Himalayan sea salt and nutritional yeast for an extra punch of vitamin B.


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This is not a must-have pantry item for the college dorm, but I thought I’d throw it in here because spices are packed with flavor and antioxidants. Did you know one teaspoon of cinnamon has the same amount of antioxidants as a cup of blueberries? I like to keep my own black pepper, Himalayan sea salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder, liquid aminos (gluten-free soy sauce), vanilla, and peppermint extract on hand to add flavor to bland foods.

Thought-provoking, mind-prodding question of the day:

Am I forgetting something? Tell me what your pantry must-haves are!


13 Responses to HECTIC: The Pantry is Your Best Friend

  1. Coconut oil, fruit and sweet potatoes are items I always try to have in my pantry. Oh and coffee 😉

  2. Carol Ann says:

    Just wanted to say that although I couldn’t bring myself to do the sugar free challenge, shortly after it finished I went sugar free and have stayed sugar free since. I’ve not had any refined sugar or substitutes, if I fancy something sweet I go for something sweetened with dried fruit. It’s working well for me so far, I’ve lost 5 lbs (lots more to go)and really don’t miss it! Never thought I’d say that! It was the sugar free challenge that got me thinking about it again (I’ve been trying off and on since the ’70s, when I read a book called “Sugar Blues” written by the guy who wrote “lady sings the blues”). Just wanted to say thank you!

    • Sugar Free Alex says:

      Carol Ann,

      I am so happy for you! Congratulations on all your hard work, and I am glad it is paying off. Thanks for leaving me a sweet comment!

  3. I love the idea of HECTIC! Your staples are all some of my favorites for surviving crazy college days. Peanut butter is by far my go-to favorite along with canned soups. Amy’s and TJ’s are my favorite!

  4. Pantry staples include- sweet potato, coconut oil, nut butter, fruit, tea and stevia. Where would I be without them?

    Great tips! Where were you when I was in a dorm? 😉

  5. I LOVE peanut butter, dark chocolate, bananas, oatmeal, green smoothies, almond milk, cinnamon, lentils, my small slow cooker, my single-serving blender, apples, hummus, canned soups/chili, etc! 😀

  6. Melinda says:

    We have been grain/dairy/sugar free for a while because my son has grain allergy and a lot of other reasons! I love your site and your post: A comment about oats, though- sometimes it can contain gluten, and for a grain-allergy person, oats, rice, and corn are also off limits! We can usually find substitutes though! Thanks for everything you’re sharing here!

    • Sugar Free Alex says:


      Yes, in order for oats to be gluten-free, they have to be uncontaminated oats. Oats are definitely not grain-free, though.

      I’m glad you like my site!

  7. Lorraine says:

    Any sugar free recipes for an ice cream maker?

    • Sugar Free Alex says:

      Hi Lorraine,

      Sorry, I don’t own an ice cream maker so I don’t have any recipes for that. I recommend checking out Healthful Pursuit website.

    • jeanne says:

      using bananas that have got some brown spots on the skin so are very sweet, peel, slice, freeze, thaw just enough to run thru a stick blender or food processor til they go all creamy. Voila, Ice Cream. add as much cocoa powder as you fancy and you’ve got chocolate ice cream. add lots of strawberries for ice cream or any fruit you fancy. easy peasy!!

  8. Beverly says:

    I always try to have freeze-dried fruit and plant-based chocolate and vanilla protein powder on hand! Perfect add-ins for my morning oatmeal

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