Top Five Products for Gluten-Free Dorm Life

Written by Emily Wagener. Emily is an Udi’s Campus Ambassador at Clemson University. She is currently a senior studying food science with an emphasis in product development and has been an avid fan of Udi’s products for years.

College, in short, is amazing. The ratio of freedom to responsibilities is optimal, there are new friends to be had everywhere, and drinking a pot of coffee at 9:00pm in preparation for an all-nighter is completely acceptable. This grandiose adventure can present a variety of challenges for those with gluten intolerance, however, from the ubiquitous presence of pizza at campus events to dealing with the management at dining halls.

My own gluten-free challenge at Clemson University was more intense than I was expecting. I had the option of going to schools where the dining halls would have catered to my every need, but Clemson offered me great scholarships that were hard to pass up. I strode into my first meeting with the campus nutritionist thinking I could easily persuade him into accommodating me, but I was unfortunately wrong. Although he was polite, he told me that Celiac disease “didn’t really exist” and that there “just wasn’t ever going to be a demand” for gluten-free products. Ouch.

Of course I wasn’t going to let this setback upset me too much. Since a meal plan was required for all freshmen, I chowed down on countless salads without complaint and armed myself with plenty of goodies in my dorm room. Living in such small spaces can be difficult with the lack of a kitchen, but the following five items are essentials for college students on a gluten-free diet:

Gluten Free Granola

  1. Udi’s Gluten-Free Granola: Udi’s Granola is amazing, especially when you roll out of your lofted bed five minutes before class starts and need to pack a quick breakfast that can be eaten by the handful as you trod your way across campus to an 8:00am class. My personal favorite is the cranberry flavor!
  • Thai Kitchen “Ramen” Noodles: There’s no denying it—ramen noodles are one of the staple items in any college kid’s diet. Luckily, Thai Kitchen makes an “instant rice noodle soup” that is an adequate substitute.
  • Mixed Nuts: They’re shelf stable and essential sources of energy-providing nutrients. Mix ‘em up with Udi’s Granola for an even more flavorful snack for early mornings or late nights in the library!
  • Glutenfreeda Frozen Burritos: Having a freezer the size of a shoebox in a dorm room can be difficult. Sharing it with a roommate who may not respect your need for space can be even more so! These burrito packets are relatively small and make delicious lunches in between classes.
  • Udi’s Cookies: These are the perfect way to brighten your day after a long marathon of lectures, exams, lab, or some awful combination of all three. I also make sure to pack them in my bag when going to campus events laden with desserts like gluten-filled cookies and cupcakes.


How do/did you deal with eating gluten-free at college? What other foods are great to keep in a dorm room?

28 responses to “Top Five Products for Gluten-Free Dorm Life”

  1. Ivana Turner says:

    I personally live off of quesadillas. I’m also vegan, so I do brown rice tortillas with rice cheese and soy chicken pieces and some soy sour cream on top. It’s one if my staples every week!

  2. Laura says:

    I didn’t have to eat gluten free in college. However, I’d recommend environ-kids granola bars! They’re super yummy, they’re healthy, and they’re very easy to grab for an on-the-go snack.

  3. Lisa says:

    There are small bags of gluten free pretzels available now. Great size for snacking. Also, most corn tortillas are gluten free and it’s possible to buy gluten free salsa or picante sauce to go with it.

  4. Salgirl says:

    I would love to have the email for the Clemson nutritionist…He needs to do his research before he makes such an obsurd remark about Celiac disease or others that are intolerant of gluten/wheat. As far as his statement that Celiac disease doesn’t exist…i have a Pathology report that proves it does

  5. Tiffany Schwartz says:

    I have dealt and still am dealing with being gluten free at school by packing my own lunches when I am at school throughout the day. Since I am a commuter I bring some frozen g-f meals and keep them in a refrigerator that is available to graduate students. I always make sure I have g-f cereal, bread and slimfast shakes in stock.

  6. heather says:

    tortilla chips and salsa!

  7. bethany mcgrath says:

    Knowing where specialty stores were was good. Knowing what chain stores had was even better. With a unique diet you can often get a mini-fridge where one might not be allowed. I loved keeping jerky and the single serve peanut butter packets on hand for long shelf-life snacks.

  8. Suzanne Lanoue says:

    I didn’t know about my gluten allergy back in college, so it wasn’t an issue. For snack foods: I love Kind bars and think students would love them, too; they are not only gluten free but low in glycemic value and taste delicious. I especially love the chocolate and peanut butter ones. I also love Pamela’s Products cookies and Glutino wafers. Hide them because they are so good even non-GF eaters love them. For a cracker I love Skinny Crisps – both low carb and gluten free. Betty Lou’s Gluten Free Fruit Bars taste a lot like Nutrigrain bars and are good for breakfast.

    For meals: there are some good organic gluten free soups out there now that you can buy in the regular grocery stores. Of course there’s also good old fashioned peanut butter that you can put on anything. I also like the tuna that comes in packets, mixed with mayo and chopped green pepper. It is good on Udi’s bread or on lettuce or just eating by itself. For salad dressings, I like Annie’s or Marie’s–the latter makes great ranch dressing.

  9. Kathryn says:

    I had the same problem with my nutritionist. I am required to have a meal plan on campus, and I couldn’t talk her out of it. I eat a lot of gf pasta for dinner because the late-night place that most upperclassmen enjoy for dinner offers only one gf option: pasta. I mix it up by making my own sauce at home and bringing back large quantities of it to shove in my tiny fridge and alternating between my sauce and the sauces they offer. For lunch, I’ll grab a salad from the student union or make some pb&j in my room on gf bread. I keep popcorn, tortilla chips, and nuts in my room to snack on.

  10. Heather H. says:

    Sunflower seeds, rice crackers, popcorn, chips, Z bars, Udi’s bagels for the toaster!

  11. Jon says:

    I eat a lot of meat and veggies when I can’t get ahold of Udi’s bread or pasta products. Learning to make a Chicken and Veggie stir-fry made my life a lot easier. Homemade chinese food is probably my most common meal. Of course it was tougher when I didn’t have my own stove. :/

    Gluten Freedom!

  12. Kathy says:

    I wasn’t gluten-free in college, but if I were a college student today and gluten-free, I would stock up on gf breads, , buns muffins, granola, and cookies. I would bring my own gf bread to the cafeteria and ask them to either make my sandwich with my bread or just give the sandwich ingredients without their bread and I make my own. Same process with burgers and hot dogs.

  13. Colleen Jeno says:

    This is great advice for those who are living in a dorm room with gluten intolerance! I was lucky, I had enough space to pack a mini grocery store in my room! And my nutritionist was very helpful, my last year in the dorms they started labeling all of the food offered in the dining centers with nutrition labels and what the food contained. They also had all the information online if I wanted to check before a meal, of course I was a busy student and forgot to check most of the time! Udi’s bread is also great for snacks, put a slice of cheese between 2 slices of bread, stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds and you’ve got a cheese sandwich! Perfect for cold afternoons on the way to class.

  14. Michelle R says:

    I personally keep Mary’s Gone Crackers and carrots to use with peanut butter as a quick brain food snack. I eat fruit leather for breakfast if I need to run out the door. I currently live in a dorm room with limited access to a kitchen or sink so I know how difficult it is to be eating gluten free and dairy free in a dorm room.

  15. Caitlin says:

    Yeah, I just transferred to a university, but because I’m coming in as a junior I don’t have to do the whole dorm thing. I decided that it was easier to just have an apartment and control my own food because I have sensitivities to other food along with gluten. I really didn’t want to spend all year having to question everything, when I could just make my own food and know exactly what it has.

    But that’s horrid that they wouldn’t accommodate. My college was perfectly happy to help me whatever I decided.

  16. Debora Manning says:

    Thanx I could not be-leave the response u received I wonder what he thinks now I deal with some of that from my own family very frustrating but there is NO choice here I instantly react It is something to be studied WHY are there SO many dietary issues TODAY!!!

  17. Zach says:

    Glutino’s pretzels were one of my favorite snacks to have in my dorm. I really like the granola too.
    I found out that I couldn’t eat gluten last year in the middle of my sophomore year, so it was interesting finding out what my school did for people with dietary restrictions. I lucked out and my school is actually pretty accommodating, but I still would get sick from eating small amounts of gluten accidentally. Its much easier to keep track of what I’m eating now that I live off campus in an apartment.

  18. says:

    If only Thai kitchen noodles were as cheap as raven noodles

  19. Arnell says:

    You forgot the #1 staple of college kids——-popcorn!

  20. tiff r. says:

    Rice cakes! I would smear them with peanut butter and top with bananas. Super easy and quick.

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