Even though it's still summer, the excitement and anxieties about going away to school are never far from the back of our minds. Especially if you're a new incoming college freshman, but let's face it, those feelings hit all of us no matter what year we're in. But I do know, those feeling hit the most with students who have food allergies, restrictions, and special diets, like Celiac Disease, due to their health. I personally know how scary it can be to be thrown into the "unknown" with the added responsibilities or dealing with Celiac Disease and food allergies. I've already outlined my 6 steps to a safe college experience and today I have some extra advice to share.
Organization! One of my favorite things and something crucial to have good skills and a plan in when you have food allergies or autoimmune disease. Not only should your college food allergy plan include organization, but of course you want to do so in style. Every other college student will be picking out fun things to make their dorm room fun, relaxing, and feel a little more like home. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a tiny room all year, with your stress of food allergies, and nothing to brighten the mood and piles of supplies/food in sad boxes. I've partnered with Pottery Barn to share my ideas with how to organize your food allergy life when you go away, safe, and in style!
1. Mix 'N' Match Storage Bins - Storage bins are a must! You can easily organize your boxes of snacks, cereals, bags or grains, beans, cans, etc., right in the bins. You can easily move them around, as they have handles, and like me, lug them down to the kitchen with supplies to possibly make some pancakes 😉 I love open bins like these since you can see what inside and have different height supplies in them. I'd put my essential products in these types of bins which can be stored right on a shelf out in the open for easy access. You should also dedicate a bin or two to your cleaning supplies. Think Lysol, sanitizing wipes, etc. These need to be used constantly to avoid cross contamination in your dorm room!
2. See-Thru Underbed Organizers - I think have underbed storage was one of the most important things I had in my room. Not only can you store extra clothes and sheets like a normal student, but you can store bulk and extra food items, pots, pans, and bulkier appliances that you don't need everyday. I brought down a ton of "extras" with me and a ton of cooking supplies (like my waffle maker), but I didn't need them all the time and sometimes not for months. I loved being able to store extra bottles, cans, boxes, etc. that I had stocked up on, away and out of sight, but still giving me the peace of mind that I would never have an emergency and run out of something I would need. Before you move-in, don't be scared to bring "too much". Have a surplus of your allergy-free essentials and any small appliances you think you'd like to have and simply store them under the bed! Plus, these have a see-thru cover so you know what you have and where everything is when you do actually need it!
3. Ready-To-Roll Storage Cart - A movable cart with storage is great to the little things! Think medications and more personal items that are small and you'd like to keep out of sight. If you're like me though, you might think of storing small food stuffs like spices in there. Another great option would be storing your own silverware, bowls, cups, and plates. This way no crumbs or contamination can get on these items but you still have easy access to them!
4. Dry-Erase Calendar Decal - Not only do you need organization for your material belongings, but you also should have a place to write things down! You can keep all your events and important notes all on one big calendar that can easily be changed. Reminders for appointments, tests, events. But most importantly for your food allergy needs, a wonderful place to write down a meal plan if you use one! you can also use the side space as a grocery list for things you need next time you go to the store or need to place an online order. Having this calendar will make things a lot easier with planning safe meals and keeping yourself stocked with everything you need when your have a packed schedule already and don't want to forget a thing!
5. Supercool Fridge - I was lucky enough to have a full fridge and small freezer in my room, but not every college dorm (especially for freshman) include one. I was also given the option of getting an extra small fridge like this if I found myself needing more space for all the food I had to have on hand. If you are provided a small fridge, I would ask to see if you could be provided another one or are allowed to bring your own extra one. When you have food allergies, the perishable groceries you need on hand are going to be a lot more than the typical college student. You also don't want to take over the whole fridge so your other roommates(s) don't have space for their stuff. Having a little extra fridge space will really come in handy. It can also give you peace of mind that your roommate didn't accidental cross-contaminate you peanut butter with gluten (as an example!)
6. Supercool Fridge Cart - If you have an extra fridge, why not include some extra storage while you're at it! I wish I had this last year in my dorm! I think this would be a wonderful space to store what would typically be counter-top produce if you had a kitchen. Think potatoes, squash, lemons, onions, plantains, bananas, avocados, that sort of thing. I stored my many potatoes and the like reusable Whole Foods bag that I got at one of the service fairs on campus (haha!). But this is also a great place to store pans, baking sheets, foil, plastic wrap, plastic baggies, etc.
Organization while still having options for style, color, and fun is what everyone wants. With food allergies, autoimmune disease, and special diets, we learn to appreciate that even more. There's so many ways you can customize your space to fit your needs and preferences. Pottery Barn has some wonderful options, as you can see from the ones I picked here, but also a ton of other options for storage and of course everything else you need to style your dorm room! So even though thinking about going back to school may not be the most "fun in the sun", it always pays off to have a head start and start planning! (You'll thank me later). The better storage you have, the better organization, the easier your allergy-free transition will be! Less stress and more fun!
So tell me:
+ Did you have a messy dorm room or were you super organized and clean? Very clean! I didn't do much decorating at all! Our common room actually went unused.
+ Did you bulk buy and stock up on staples or did you always find yourself running out of important things? My roommates loved me. My dad was able to send hundreds (I mean hundreds) of plastic forks, spoons, knives, paper plates, garbage bags, and toilet paper the entire year. We never ran out!
**This is a sponsored post in partnership with Pottery Barn Dorm and Her Campus Media. All words and opinions are my honest own.**
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