(Photo Credit: Small Kitchen College)
When I asked my guy friends what they keep in their mini fridges at school, their eyes lit up and they yelled "BEER!" before I could even finish my question. And they certainly weren't joking. One look inside and I found cans upon cans of cheap beer with the occasional added bonus of fridge mold. What were these boys eating for breakfast? And what if they got hungry between meals? Somebody had to enlighten them.
Yes, I'd lived with a refrigerator for 18 years before I arrived at my freshman dorm, but this fridge was different! It was...well, mini, but more importantly, all my own, and signified that I was officially a college student. While living on campus, a meal plan dominated much of what I ate for structured meals. So the mini-fridge became my go to for on-the-run breakfasts, beverages, between-meal snacks, and late night indulgences. Because of the fridge's small size each item must serve multiple purposes. While it'd be nice to have a fridge full of beer like my guy friends, here are my tips on stocking a slightly different, more food-oriented mini fridge.
1. Cheese Sticks. They come in individually wrapped portions, so they're perfect to grab and go. Eat on the way to class, the gym, or, if you're like my roommate, even while lying down in bed. When you come home late at night with a craving for something warm and salty, pop one in the microwave on a plate for a few seconds and eat the melty cheese with crackers.
2. Orange Juice. Drink for breakfast, or use as a chaser. For a classy start to an early morning tailgate mix with champagne for mimosas. The vitamin C will keep you healthy even when your whole hall seems to have the flu.
3. Plain Greek Yogurt. When you shamefully can't make it to the dining hall for breakfast even before your 11am class (ever heard of beauty rest?!), the individual size is the perfect quick but filling breakfast. Mix with berries and granola for a classic parfait, drizzle with honey for a healthy dessert, or stir in chunky peanut butter for an unexpected crunch. Be sure to stock spoons to eat 'em with.
4. Almond milk. Add this sweetened dairy-free version to lackluster cereals or microwavable oatmeal for a thicker result. Use as creamer and skip the sugar when flavoring black coffee. Especially perfect for dunking dining hall cookies you've managed to smuggle out...
5. Hummus. I've been known to dip everything and anything in the hummus container in order to save the last bit from being wrongfully thrown out. Delicious with pretzels, red peppers, or carrots. An easy crowd pleaser with crackers for those times you find 15 hungry people in your dorm room with no warning. Or if you're feeling a bit more adventurous use for crunchy spicy hummus wraps.
6. Freeze Pops. The Durham heat can really make you question why you ever chose to go to college in the South. Thankfully, these cold, sweet, and cheap popsicles really know how to cure any momentary disgruntlement. They satisfy a sweet tooth pretty painlessly, too!
Bonus! Nail polish. While on a college budget, professional manicures can be far and few between. Keeping nail polish in the fridge slows down the discoloration that occurs over time, meaning that same bottle could last you to graduation and beyond.
--Lucy Dana for Small Kitchen College
Lucy Dana is a junior at Duke University, currently spending the semester in Cape Town, South Africa where she is trying to muster up the courage to conquer the world's highest bungee jump.