1. Make Smart Choices in the Dining Hall
If you have a meal plan, you’ll definitely save yourself time and money. The downside is that it can be tempting to eat unhealthy foods. Have the self-control to go for the healthier options.
- Head to the Salad Bar and Load Up on Raw Fruits and Veggies. Be sure to choose a healthy salad dressing, like oil and vinegar; otherwise, your salad will be overloaded with calories, fats, and sugars.
- Pay Attention to How Foods Are Cooked. If you have a choice, opt for grilled instead of fried.
- Avoid Overeating, and Don’t Go Back for Seconds. Just because a dining hall is all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean that you need to stuff yourself.
- Skip Dessert, or Only Have Dessert Once or Twice a Week. When I was in college, I only ate dessert in the dining hall the evening after a big exam as a reward.
- Pass on the Extras When Offered by the Cook for Made-to-Order Items. For example, if you are eating breakfastand the cook is making eggs to order, skip the cheese and other unnecessary toppings.
- Go for the Power Foods, Especially for Breakfast. Your body and brain need the energy for a long day of studying. Eat eggs and oatmeal, and skip the sugary cereal.
2. Always Opt for Water
This is where so many Americans fail themselves and their diets. Soda, coffee, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages are easily available, but don’t be fooled into thinking you need them to keep you awake to study. A tall glass of water will do the trick and is much better for you.
3. Have Healthy Snacks in Your Dorm
Great dorm room snacks include nuts, dried fruit, granola, peanut butter, carrots, and plain popcorn. Don’t buy junk food like potato chips and cookies for your room. If you don’t have it available, you can’t eat it.
4. Aim for Three Meals a Day
Depending on your class and work schedule, it may be a challenge for you to eat three square meals a day. However, do your best to eat a healthy, full meal at an appropriate time. Not only will this keep your body satisfied, but you’ll be fueling your brain. It will also prevent you from starving and overindulging when having too much time between meals.
5. Avoid Late Snacking or Dining
College students are known for sleeping in and staying up late. While this is part of the culture, make sure not to indulge yourself in late night snacks or an extra meal by ordering a pizza. The best way to avoid this is to have better time management skills, and not wait to study until the last minute. You’ll also test better if you are well-rested.
6. Eat Superfoods That Are Low in Price
To save money, try to eat foods that will fill you up for the least amount of money. I call these superfoods because they give your mind and body the power to function longer than processed foods. Here are some that are low in price:
- Eggs make an easy meal on the go, especially if you hard boil them ahead of time.
- Oatmeal will keep you full longer than cold cereal. Opt for steel-cut or “old-fashioned” oats that you cook on a stove top. Instant oatmeal is loaded with sugar and additives, and will not keep you satiated for very long
- Rice is incredibly cheap and goes well with almost anything. Opt for brown rice, as it includes the entire grain, and consider making a rice and beans recipe.
- Beans are also good for you and your wallet. While soaking them and cooking them yourself is most cost-effective, it might be more realistic for you as a college student to buy them canned.
- Avocados can be very affordable, especially during the spring when they are in season. While avocados are high in calories, they provide good fats that will power your brain.
- Peanut Butter is high in calories, but the protein will help you stay full. Avoid peanut butter with sugar and other additives, and instead purchase peanut butter that lists only peanuts and salt as ingredients.
- Apples are the absolute best study snacks. They give you the same amount of energy as a cup of coffee.
7. Go With the Basics When Out to Eat
In college, you’ll inevitably be going out to eat, so when you do, enjoy yourself – but don’t overdo it either. Keep your meal basic without all the extras to keep the cost and the calories down. Here are some examples:
- Order a baked potato with a little butter instead of overloaded with cheese and sour cream.
- Get a cheese pizza or a veggie pizza instead of one covered in greasy, fatty meats. Also, don’t order extra cheese.
- Go light on the toppings at a burrito or sandwich joint.
8. Cook in a Group
Not much actual cooking takes place when you live in a dorm. The facilities usually do not accommodate it, nor do students want to take the time.
In order to eat more home-cooked meals, find some friends with whom you can start a dinner club: Get together once a week to make a meal and socialize. Not only is this a fun way to spend your evening, it’s nice to have a real meal. By cooking a meal as a group, you split the cost of the food, making it reasonable for any budget.
9. Shop Smart for Groceries
Depending on whether you have a meal plan, you may or may not frequent the grocery store. Regardless, there are plenty of ways to save money when shopping for groceries:
10. Indulge on Occasion
It can be a real challenge to eat healthy while in college, so give yourself a break every once in a while. Order a pizza, go out to eat, or get some ice cream – but not more than once per week. Do it as a reward for eating healthy on a budget, not as a stress reliever. Indulging will never alleviate the stress of being a college student.
Eating healthy while on a budget in college is hard. It’s almost as hard as attaining good grades, and it is just as important. What good are high grades and a great career if your health fails you? Don’t put yourself in that position. College can still be the time of your life even if you eat smart and spend your money wisely.
What tips do you have for eating healthy in college? What affordable, nutritious foods help keep you going?
Source: Money Crashers