Eating Healthy on a College Budget
As a college student going out to shop for groceries by myself, I found it very easy to go over my budget looking at different seasonal snacks, or that really interesting new draft latte. At the same time, as I was met with such an abundance of junk food in the dining halls, self control became increasingly important. From a college student to a college student, here are some of Honeycut Kitchen’s tips for eating healthy on a college budget!
1. Take advantage of your dorm’s kitchen
Although this was something I had discovered very late, if your dorm or suite has a communal kitchen, it becomes much easier to control the serving size and amount of salt, oil, etc. Of course oils and fats (for example) are all essential to optimal nutrition, but knowing what exactly is in your food not only gives peace of mind but also makes you more aware of what you’re putting in your body. Cooking can also develop into a fun hobby—searching for new recipes, cooking with your friends, and plating your own food can all be sources of joy and stress relief.
2. Cut down on costs by purchasing raw ingredients
Walking down the aisles of the grocery store, it might be tempting to gravitate towards the instant meals or the instant ramen because they seem convenient or cheap. However, it is often the case that these products are either not as cheap as they seem or are able to be matched in price with fresh produce. Not only does purchasing raw ingredients (e.g. broccoli, carrots, cabbage, potatoes) cut down on costs, they provide more nutrients and they generally will get you more in quantity for the price than, for instance, a frozen macaroni.
3. Keep an eye out for weekly sales
Most grocery stores have sales that rotate week in and week out, and those ads can usually be found online. For example, Target does lots of sales on nuts and fruits, both of which can be expensive. Whole Foods targets sales for Amazon prime members (and non-members), and your school might actually offer their students free membership. Once you get the hang of it and notice the trends or items that often go on sale, it becomes easier to factor in items that might have otherwise been too expensive, into your budget.
4. Grab smaller servings in the dining hall
As I had previously mentioned, gorging on junk food in the dining hall became somewhat of a habit for me. Not that treating yourself is bad, but the way I was eating detrimentally affected both the way I was feeling mentally, along with my physical health. I found that grabbing one plate and controlling for the portions (even if it’s junk food) made eating in a healthy and balanced way much more feasible. The key for this is to go in with clear intentions and actively remind yourself that the reason behind your effort is your health and wellbeing.
5. Look into frozen produceSome might hold the belief that frozen produce contains less nutrient content and isn’t as desirable for that reason, but this idea actually doesn’t hold to be true. Frozen produce has the same nutrient breakdown as fresh produce, with even a potential advantage of being able to buy items that are either not in season or usually too expensive to buy fresh while budgeting as a college student. The caveat to this is that some frozen items might have added artificial sugars or salt, etc. and reading nutrition labels is crucial to picking the choices that are the best for your body!
About the Author:
Anna Wang is currently a college student attending Northwestern University. She moved to Chicago from California and loves exploring the city in her free time—or more realistically staying in her dorm and watching Criminal Minds with a cup of tea in hand. Anna tries her best to stay healthy by stocking up on fruits and occasionally boiling vegetables in her dorm... she is giving it her all! Find her on Instagram @annavwang or LinkedIn