Eating healthy is hard, I know. Especially if you’re on a college budget like me, eating things that are good for you doesn’t seem realistic. When the choice is between the lucky charms and the special K, it’s hard to make your decision based on health (because lucky charms would be my choice 100% of the time).
But I have great news! Eating right isn’t difficult. It’s actually easier than you might think. And for college kids like me, you don’t have to spend all your money at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I know, life changing stuff here.
Food for a College Budget:
1. Salad Deconstructed: Both you and I know that your school has a salad bar/salad option. I know the lettuce looks wilted and the goat cheese is past its prime. But there are still delicious looking cucumbers and arugula leaves for your eating pleasure. Just because its at the salad bar, doesn’t mean you have to make a salad. Use those ingredients to make something else. The other day in the dining hall I got a black bean burger from the grill, put some arugula on it and sprinkled it with vinaigrette. It was so freakin’ good and I felt good about myself for eating it.
2. Dip: Buy one huge thing of your favorite dip (for me it’s hummus but if you’re a guacamole person that’s okay too). Now when I say dip, I don’t mean ranch dip or onion spread, I mean a good, natural dip. Enter hummus. Once you have your large tub of dip, the possibilities are endless. You can dip carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, whole wheat pita bread, corn chips, etc.
3. Cheese: String cheese is your new best friend. When you need a snack between classes, string cheese. When you are up at 1am starving, string cheese. When you don’t feel like leaving your room, string cheese. Its the simplest and most entertaining healthy snack there is. And it gives you that small boost of energy with all its protein and fat. If you’e really feeling ambitious about your health maybe even look for a low fat string cheese. They exist too.
4. Rice Bowl-Chipotle Style: There is no shame in loving Mexican food as much as I do. Next time you’re feeling like you could go for a burrito, maybe skip the tortilla, the sour cream and the cheese. A nice (brown) rice bowl with lettuce, beans, salsa and guac is a delicious and healthy alternative to that giant burrito you were probably imagining. I know my school has a burrito station so I don’t have to spend real money on this item; but if yours doesn’t it’s also relatively easy to make in the dorm with some store bought pre-cooked items.
5. Water: Water is and will always be the best. You don’t need orange juice, coke, lemonade or snapple to quench your thirst. Always go for water. A cold glass, or in my case nalgene, of water is always refreshing and gets the job done. And here’s the real kicker: ITS FREE. Don’t spend your budget on unnecessary beverages when you have free water all around you (unless you are a California resident, in which case, I am sorry).
It doesn’t have to be impossibly difficult to find healthy alternatives in college. I know it takes some effort, but it’s worth it because you’re gonna feel more energetic and light, and less groggy and greasy. Go forth and be healthy!