Do College Dorms Have Kitchens? Cooking in College

When I was getting ready to move to college, I was nervous about having the ability to cook my own meals. I then got to wondering whether or not college dorms have kitchens, so I did some further research.

Are there kitchens in college dorms? College dorms do not typically have kitchens within individual student rooms. Newer or renovated dorms may offer a communal kitchen which can be used or reserved when needed. If a full kitchen isn’t available, there are usually communal microwaves available for residents to use.

If you’re curious about how to cook in college dorms, or further information about appliances that are available, check out the rest of the article below.

Kitchens and College Dorms

College dorms, on average, do not have a kitchen within individual dorm rooms. In newer or renovated dorms, you may find that a communal kitchen is available for use. These usually contain appliances such as a large fridge, stove, oven and microwave. Given there will be a lot of students and only one kitchen, there are usually requirements of reserving time slots for you or your friends to use the kitchen. If you do reserve a kitchen, be sure to clean it afterwards! Nothing is more frustrating than showing up to your reservation and there’s a dirty kitchen.

If there isn’t a kitchen available, you will usually be able to find a communal microwave or fridge that is shared with the building, or an individual microwave or fridge for each floor. Do remember, don’t rely too heavily on storing food items in a communal fridge, especially if it’s shared by a lot of people. As much as you should be able to trust your neighbors, food can go missing very quickly when other people have access to it.

There is one exception to kitchens existing in dorm rooms. Occasionally universities will have a dorm that is an “upgrade” or “private”. These are usually for students who want to pay more per month, or are only available too upperclassman. These dorms may

Can I Bring My Own Cooking Appliances To A College Dorm?

Typically colleges will not allow kitchen appliances to be brought into a college dorm room, especially those that contain something with an open flame. Items such as hot plates or toaster ovens are often on the list of “banned items”. I recommend not trying to sneak in any kind of banned items, especially if they are clearly stated that they’re banned. Doing so will usually result in a type of infraction, or worst case scenario, expulsion from the dorm.

  • Mini Fridge: Typically dorms do not provide this in-unit, but they are usually allowed for you to bring. A mini fridge should be one of the first purchases you make for college. Having a mini fridge allows for you to buy fresh produce, and keep things like water cold. You can click here to check out our top college essential recommendations where we have our recommendations on mini fridges.
  • Microwaves: This will vary drastically from dorm to dorm. I have seen times where colleges will provide a microwave in-unit, or times where they request that people bring there own. However, it also is a hot topic (no pun intended) in the area of banned items. When in doubt, check your move-in literature to see if they mention anything around microwaves.
  • Coffee Makers: Usually dorms will allow for a coffee maker like a Keurig to be brought, but again, be sure to double check. Usually they will allow them if they have an automatic shut off. Since dorm rooms are small, we recommend not purchasing a large size one. The one cup k-mini from Keurig is our top recommendation. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.
  • Ovens/Toaster Ovens/George Foreman/Rice Cookers: Banned in 99% of all dorms.

Why Do College Dorms Not Have Kitchens

College dorms do not typically have kitchens because they have a communal dining hall that is attached to the dorm, or very close to the dorm. Also, they will often times push and/or require students to have a meal plan while living in the dorm. While that may sound like they’re trying to make more money, they are usually pretty reasonably priced, and a lot more convenient than you’d think. When you’re running between classes all day, studying, and trying to make new friends, it’s a lot easier to have a meal made for you, rather than cooking.

How To Cook In A College Dorm Without A Kitchen

There are tons of unique ways in order to get “cooking” without a full kitchen! Unfortunately, this part is likely where the “freshman 15” is stemming from. I could try to give you a bunch of ways to cook healthy, but I think it makes sense to tell you what people are really doing. Here are some of the most popular food items that you can “cook” with just a microwave.

  • Ramen Noodles: These are a college students best friend. They’re less than $1 per package, and will surprisingly keep you filled up. All you have to do is either fill the styrofoam container with water, or a small bowl with water, and put in the noodles.
  • EasyMac: These are also lifesavers. All you do is fill the container with water and cook for the time on the packaging. Be careful though, one of the top reasons that a microwave will catch fire or set off smoke detectors is from students not putting water in the noodles. I’ve woken up to one too many smoke detectors at 3am for this very reason.
  • Popcorn: Everyone’s favorite microwave meal
  • Frozen Meals: Try to keep as healthy as possible. However, just remember that the freezer compartment of your mini fridge will be extremely small, so it’s probably only good for fitting 1 or 2 boxes of frozen meals (or a bag of pizza rolls for when you’re having the late night study craving).

Starting to get ready for college, or are perspectively looking at moving into dorms? Check out our guide on how to prepare for college dorm move-in.

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