By Kate Safin, East End Food Co-op
Few on-campus dining options, living on your own for the first time, or a limited budget could all contribute to adopting poor eating habits while in college. But eating a balanced and healthy diet is critical to maintaining the focus and mental stamina required to be a successful student. This is not the time to slack on healthy habits! Eating well on a budget (and even in a dorm) doesn’t have to be a challenge. Toss out all your take-out menus and follow this guide to build easy, healthy, and budget-friendly meals you can make with little time, preparation, or experience.
Fresh, whole fruit: Apples, bananas, and oranges don’t require refrigeration or preparation and are easy to eat on-the-go. Plus they are packed with fiber, vitamins, and are naturally hydrating. For protein, eat with almond butter or peanut butter.
Overnight oats: Here is a quick and healthy breakfast that doesn’t require any cooking. Simply place 1 cup of oats in a mason jar, cover with 11 cup of milk, add any fruit and spices you desire and set in the refrigerator overnight. You can toss the whole jar in your book bag and run out the door (don’t forget a spoon!).
Protein shakes: Scoop protein powder into milk, nut milk, or juice and mix. It doesn’t get easier than that!
Lunch or Dinner:
Wraps can make any collection of ingredients a meal, and these days it’s relatively easy to find gluten free, vegan, and low carb options to fit a variety of special diets. Fill a wrap with meat and cheese, hummus, salsa, canned tuna or chicken. Add steamed rice, quinoa, beans, avocado, and/or fresh veggies to bulk it up and make it a complete meal.
Baked sweet potato: Did you know you can make a potato in the microwave? Just pierce the skin of the potato with a fork, wrap in a damp cloth, a microwave for 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove the potato from the microwave, being cautious of any steam, and you’re done! Sweet potatoes are filling and rich in vitamins and potassium. Try it topped with black beans or chickpeas for added protein.
Nut butter and honey sandwiches are a delicious twist on an old favorite. Add sliced bananas and/or strawberries for a daily serving of fruit.
Try a pre-packaged salad. All the prep is already done. Just dump the ingredients in a bowl and toss together.
Cheese sticks, carrots with hummus, celery and peanut butter, trail mix, whole grain crackers, protein bars, and dried fruit are all healthy alternatives to chips and empty calorie snacks.
Stock your pantry:
When you are living on your own, a great way to shop for one is utilizing the bulk department. These areas of grocery stores and health food markets allow you to shop for as much or as little as you like. Nuts, grains, flours, spices, beans, coffee, tea, and more are all available in large bins. Shop with your own containers or use one provided by the store. You won’t believe how much money you save when you shop this way! It’s also better for the environment, eliminating excess packaging, single use plastics, and food waste.
Nut milk (aseptic containers)
Canned black beans
Hydroflask or similar insulated hot/cold beverage container
Basic Overnight Oats Recipe
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk of choice
1 tsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
½ cup greek yogurt
½ cup fresh or frozen berries
dash of cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a glass mason jar. Seal and let sit for 2 hours or place in refrigerator overnight.