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Nine Take-It-with-You Dorm-Room Essentials for Gluten-Free Students

You’re all packed up and ready to begin college. You’re prepared to figure out where your gluten-free meals will come from, maybe for the first time, and you know you need to take responsibility for your choices about food and your health. Along with your computer, sheets, towels, and clothes, be sure to pack these essentials for avoiding gluten in your diet.

1

Take plenty of safe food and snacks.

Take a good supply of food with you to hold you over until you figure out where you can buy safe snacks on campus or in town. If you’ve been on a gluten-free diet before college, you’ve likely already identified your favorite snacks.

Some suggestions of safe food include popcorn, packaged cookies and crackers, breakfast cereal, gluten-free oatmeal, soup, nuts, trail mix, snack bars, a loaf of "safe" bread, and peanut butter and jelly.

2

Pack your own eating utensils.

No need to get fancy — inexpensive silverware or disposable plastic utensils will do. And don’t forget to pack a few disposable or inexpensive knives for preparing gluten-free food in your room. Spoons, forks, cups, and microwavable mugs, plates, and bowls are pretty important, too.

3

Take a large storage container.

Buy a large plastic container that fits under your bed or in your closet to store your food and utensils. If you have a bookshelf to yourself, a container that fits on one of those shelves will work, too. A plastic covered container for open snacks keeps pests away and discourages your roomie and friends from helping themselves to your gluten-free stash.

4

Be sure to pack your own can opener.

Be sure that you go to school equipped with a can opener for your soup and chili.

5

Play it safe and take a small microwave.

Most schools permit a small microwave in the dorms. You can use this appliance to make tea and coffee; bake potatoes; and heat soup, oatmeal, leftovers, gluten-free noodles, rice, and convenience meals. Check with school policy to see which appliances and models are dorm-approved.

6

Take a mini or dorm-sized refrigerator with freezer.

A mini-fridge is another dorm room essential. Get one with a freezer, too, and store ice cream, frozen pizza, mac and cheese, burritos, and all those other great gluten-free groceries that can nourish you when the cafeteria food isn’t an option.

7

For your safety, pack some disinfecting wipes.

Pack some disinfecting wipes and paper towels to clean your counter space, refrigerator, shelves, and plates and utensils. You’ll need to keep your food prep and eating areas clear of gluten, especially if a little gluten makes you seriously ill.

8

Keep some local menus handy.

Every time you visit your college town, gather take-home menus from local restaurants and fast-food and delivery places. Print out online menus, too. Mark the gluten-free (or potentially gluten-free) options and put everything in a binder. This prepares you with critical gluten-free info when your new friends want to dine out or order a late-night pizza.

9

Gluten-free apps and websites help you decide where to shop and eat when you’re off campus.

Do you have a gluten-free bakery nearby? Where are the gluten-free stores and pizza places? Is there a gluten-free support group that has the inside scoop on what’s in town, or can you track down a gluten-free campus club or Facebook page? That kind of info is listed online for almost every town you may be moving to.

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