By now, incoming college students are starting to get settled into their dorm rooms. The posters are up — is the cover of “Dark Side of the Moon” still as popular as it was when I was in school? The backpacks are heavy. The campus is huge and confusing. Friendships, platonic and romantic, are already being formed.

And, no doubt, there are stacks of ramen noodles and palettes of soda stashed under beds and in closets in dorm rooms across the nation. Yes, that’s right: You’ve made your first big step into adulthood, and you’re eating food with the nutritional benefits of cardboard covered in sugar, salt and butter.

“But it’s cheap!” you say. “It’s easy! It’s microwaveable!” It’s true, Tater Tots and beef jerky don’t require more than a pulse and opposable thumbs to make. But remember the dreaded “freshman 15”? Besides, ramen noodles get real old, real quick.

There must be a better way — and there is, without spending more money or carting pots and pans and lots of ingredients down to the dorm kitchen. Fresh men and fresh ladies, here are nine cheap, tasty and (mostly) healthful choices to stock up on for those late-night cram sessions (or late-night “Guitar Hero” jams). Who said a microwave and a tiny dorm fridge can’t be fine culinary accessories?

1. Breakfast — fast Buy a carton of eggs, a container of Parmesan cheese, and the bread product of your choice. Scramble up two eggs, add in a couple of tablespoons of cheese and some salt and pepper, and microwave in a little dish for 90 seconds. Voila: egg and cheese sandwich. Both eggs and parmesan cheese keep for weeks, so there’s no need to use them up quickly.

2. Veggie variety If there’s one thing any vegetarian is totally sick of, it’s veggie burgers. But how to find a protein-packed, tasty alternative? For starters, try Veggie Patch Falafel Chickpea Balls. They’re full of vegetables and beans, they taste good with dipping sauce, in a sandwich or on their own, and they take exactly 60 seconds to cook. At $2.99 a package, it’s enough for three meals without spending too much dough.

3. Buy in bulk Natural food stores and many grocery stores now have a bulk foods section, where you can buy grains, nuts, cereals and soup mixes by the pound. A gigantic bag of almonds or granola will be cheaper and will last you weeks, if not months, for late night snacks during cram sessions.

4. Cooing for couscous Rice is all well and good, but for the quickest, heartiest, most versatile meal out there, turn to couscous, the Middle Eastern pasta that cooks in a matter of minutes. You can add anything you want to it — from cheese or olive oil to salad dressing and frozen veggies — and it’s incredibly cheap. For a healthier choice, try whole wheat couscous.

5. Spice touch To spice up any dish you’re making, go out and invest in an array of herbs, spices and other flavorings. Noodles, rice or eggs can be a bit bland, but add basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, curry powder or balsamic vinegar, and suddenly it’s borderline gourmet. It’s moderately expensive up front, but a few jars of spices will last you all year long.

6. Protein power
Buying fresh meat usually means you’re planning to make a big meal, and since most dorm rooms don’t have a freezer, you’ve got to use the meat right away or let it go to waste. Stock up on canned foods like tuna, sardines, shrimp and salmon for cheap, easy, healthful protein that’s full of those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids. Go local, and buy Beach Cliff sardines, harvested and processed right here in Maine. They’re also a sustainable fish that’s among the lowest in mercury content.

7. Cut out the middleman
It may seem like the easiest thing in the world to buy precut carrots, celery, broccoli and other veggies. It is, but it’s also way, way more expensive: a two-pound bag of carrots costs two dollars, max, while a one-pound bag of sliced baby carrots costs three dollars and some change. Save the money and cut up your own.

8. Annie’s alternative Ah, boxed macaroni and cheese. This staple of dorm food is among the worst offenders in bad-for-you cheap deals: full of fat and sodium, with almost no nutritional value. Spend the extra 50 cents and buy organic mac and cheese like Annie’s— it tastes way better, and it’s not jacked full of preservatives and salt. Plus, it comes in several flavors, and you can get bunny-rabbit-shaped pasta.

9. Easy stew Take one large or two small cans of diced tomatoes and one can of garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas). Stir together with olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and whatever other herbs and spices you wish. Cook on a stovetop on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or microwave for two minutes, stir and microwave again for two more minutes. Now you have a simple, hearty bean, tomato and garlic stew fit for two meals. Yum.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.