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Time to Shop! What Should be on Your Shopping List in College

written by: Robin L.•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/5/2011

For many young adults, moving into a dorm is their first taste of freedom. While the first focus may be on how much fun being in control of life is, eventually the reality of shopping and having to provide for one’s self will become obvious. This college dorm shopping list will make it easy.

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    Groceries

    Contrary to the popular childhood belief, food does not magically appear in the fridge. While there will be plenty of fast food and cafeteria options available, they are not always the healthiest or least expensive options. Further, after a late night of studying a new student may want to sleep in and grab something quick on the way to class. Stock your dorm room with these essentials to keep hunger at bay.

    • Bread - a must have for sandwiches
    • Canned Meat - such as tuna, chicken, or salmon are great for sandwiches and salads
    • Cereal – Great for breakfast or a late night snack.
    • Cup of – The only ‘cup of’ option use to be soup. Now there are instant cups of macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, and a variety of other foods that only require water and heat.
    • Granola Bars – A good source of protein and fiber to fuel you through the first class.
    • Jelly - great for sandwiches and toast
    • Jerky – Protein that doesn’t have to be kept cold or heated.
    • Microwavable dinners – There are lots of these in the frozen food section but if you don’t have a mini fridge you can also find them in the soup section of most stores. These complete meals come with a starch, protein, and vegetables.
    • Nuts – Any type of individually packaged nuts are a great source of protein and good fat.
    • Peanut Butter – Great to dip the pretzels in or use in sandwiches.
    • Whole Wheat Pretzels – A good way to get on the go fiber.

    First Aid Kit

    • Ace bandage – good for sprains
    • Antacids – new foods can lead to upset tummies
    • Antibiotic ointment – to put on cuts
    • Antihistamines – a new environment can result in new allergens
    • Band-Aids – good for paper cuts, blisters, and an assortment of other nicks
    • Bandages – buy an assortment of sizes
    • First aid book – a comprehensive step by step guide is ideal
    • Flashlight – in case of power outages or nighttime accidents
    • Heat –instant heat packages that warm up when opened, a variety of sizes are useful.
    • Ice – instant ice becomes cold when exposed to air eliminating the need for a fridge
    • Medical tape – to hold bandages in place
    • Pain reliever – choose a favorite or supply a variety
    • Prescription medications – be sure prescriptions are transferred to a local pharmacy and a one month supply is available.
    • Safety pins – amazingly useful in a variety of circumstances, keep several sizes.
    • Scissors – to cut bandages or gauze to size.
    • Sterile wipes – to clean insect bites or cuts
    • Sunburn gel – studying outside can be dangerous
    • Suntan lotion – for outdoor labs or weekend trips
    • Thermometer- a standard in most homes, but often forgotten when packing
    • Throat lozenges – they make different types for coughs, sore throats, and filled with vitamins choose an assortment.
    • Tissue – a small pack can be put in the kit or a large box can be purchased and kept outside the kit.
    • Topical antihistamines – relieves itching from bug bites
    • Tweezers – to remove splinters or stingers
    • Vitamins – eating healthy isn’t the easiest thing to do at college, vitamins can make up the difference.

    Bedding

    • Blanket – depending on the climate you may need more than one
    • Mattress pad – dorm mattresses are notoriously hard, extra padding means better sleep
    • Pillows – buy extras to prop up in bed while studying
    • Sheets – two sets so one can be washed while the other is being used

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    Electronics

    Electronics aren’t just about the neat gadgets and toys that students like. There are also several mundane electronic items that should be added to a college dorm shopping list to make a dorm feel more like home.

    • Alarm Clock – Be sure to choose a model with a battery backup in case of power outages.
    • Coffee Maker – This is only necessary if you have a strong affinity for coffee. Making your own coffee in the morning or for late night cram sessions is much cheaper than buying it at a coffee shop.
    • Computer – A laptop is ideal for taking to class or the library.
    • Digital Camera – A great way to captures college memories.
    • Digital Voice Recorder – This can be used to record lectures.
    • Fan – A great way to cool off a warm dorm room.
    • Iron – a necessary evil if the laundry area doesn’t have one.
    • Lamp – dorm rooms aren’t always well lit, this will make studying easier.
    • Microwave – a great way to make meals quickly.
    • Mini Fridge – the easiest way to keep your favorite beverage or food nearby and safe from other hungry students.
    • Noise machine – the best antidote to noisy neighbors or roommates.
    • Printer – Having a printer in your dorm room makes last minute term papers much less stressful.
    • Web cam – This is perfect for students moving far away from home to maintain face to face communication with family and friend at home.

    Misc.

    • Can opener - preferably a manual opener that also has a bottle opener and cork screw
    • Clothes hamper – something easy to carry to and from the laundry area.
    • Dryer sheets – This keeps clothes static free and smelling like home
    • Ironing board – You may be able to skip this if the laundry area provides one
    • Laundry detergent – check with the laundry center you will be using to see if they prefer liquid or powder or if it is supplied there
    • Paper towels – great for temporary coasters and cleaning up messes
    • Trash bags – buy a size to fit your garbage can as well as larger sizes for big messes
    • Ziploc bags – useful for storing food, money, coupons, and takeout menus

    Office Supplies

    • Blue and black ink pens – most professors don’t want to look at a variety of neon colors
    • Calendar – a day planner and a wall calendar are ideal
    • Cork board – A place to put up meetings, notes to roommates, and takeout menus
    • Flash drive – especially nice if you’ll be working on a variety of lab computers as well as your own personal computer
    • Highlighters – to clarify notes and mark passages in your textbook
    • Note cards – only necessary if you don’t use your computer or digital recorder for note gathering
    • Paper – You can use binders or composition books, whichever best suits your style of notetaking
    • Pencil sharpener – a must have unless you use a mechanical pencil
    • Pencils – being able to erase is nice
    • Tape – Useful when you least expect it
    • Thumb tacks – You will need a way to put up posters, calendars, notes, etc.

    Bathroom

    All of the bathroom items are fairly self explanatory, however, when moving out on your own it is easy to forget common things that are often taken for granted. Be sure to include these as well as any special products when packing and shopping before you move into your dorm room.

    • Body wash
    • Conditioner
    • Dental floss
    • Flip-flops
    • Hair dryer
    • Robe
    • Shampoo
    • Shower caddy
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothbrush holder
    • Toothpaste
    • Towels
    • Wash cloth

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    Check out the printable version of the college dorm shopping list, to save time when you do your shopping.