Happy first day of classes, Vols! I hope you all are just as excited to be back as I am (i.e. absolutely thrilled). I’d like to extend a special welcome to all of the first-year students; welcome to the most confusing, strangest, exciting years of your life! I am so happy that you have chosen to make Knoxville your home for the next four (or five or six) years. It is a wonderful place to be, and I am happy that you are here, and I am even happier that you have somehow found your way to this column because this one is for you.

As a first-year student, you are probably living in a dorm room with only a mini fridge, a microwave and a bathroom sink at your disposal. This may seem limiting, sure, but with a little creativity and a few fridge staples, you can easily whip something up when you don’t feel like making the trek to PCB or you get hungry at 3 a.m. when nothing around is open.

Even though you were probably required to purchase the unlimited meal plan, it is still important to keep some basic things in your dorm fridge because your hunger and the dining halls’ hours will not always match up. Or sometimes you just cannot be bothered to go and walk anywhere to get food, but you still need to eat.

First and foremost, healthy (or semi-healthy) snacks are a must for your mini fridge, and I am not going to say just fruits and vegetables. If you do not have the ability or time to go to the store to constantly replace produce when it goes bad, that is no problem! One thing that I always had in my mini fridge freshman year was a bag of cheese sticks. They have a long shelf life, and they are also a pretty decent source of protein, so those were always my go-to snack.

Since I also didn’t have a car on campus for a while, going to the grocery store all the time was not an easy task. Sometimes I would walk to the Walmart in the University Commons, but since that no longer exists, that is not an option for you first-years. Because of this, I advise keeping frozen fruits and vegetables in your freezer. You can use them to make smoothies – just take some yogurt or milk from PCB or Stokely back to your dorm. Frozen vegetables are a great option for a healthy dinner; you can buy some that even already have sauce mixed in, so it is an instant dinner.

Two other things that I always kept in my mini fridge are shredded cheese and tortillas. I never let myself run out of either of those because they are both so versatile. They can be used together or separately; add other ingredients like salsa or hot sauce, put cheese on chips and the possibilities are endless. Just take my advice and never run out of those – unless, of course, you are vegan, lactose intolerant or gluten sensitive. Then, there are plenty of alternatives for you.

Maybe your parents stocked you up on snacks before they left town, but those will soon run out, and you will be on your own, my friends. If you have already figured out how to hack your dorm kitchen, send your ideas my way – I would love to see them! Enjoy your first year, kids. Study hard and have lots of fun; these are the quickest years of your life!

Lauren Adams is a senior studying Spanish and Political Science with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She can be reached at ladams30@vols.utk.edu.

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