Between your studies, work and social life, you have little time for illness as a college student. But, you also have a limited budget to work with. Below you’ll find tips to keep you full and fueled without breaking the bank.
Buy in bulk
You can often find dried fruits, nuts and grains in bulk at the grocery store. Stock up on nuts and dried fruit to have for snacks between classes and use grains such as oats, rice and buckwheat for breakfast or as sides to lunch and dinner meals. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are regularly sold in one pound bags. Apples, onions, carrots and potatoes add more flavor for less calories and less money.
Buy in season
When you’re purchasing produce, use an online resource such as eattheseasons.com to find out what’s in season near you. When items are in season, they are abundant, and this drives the price down. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on some of your favorite foods.
Use the freezer
You can store more than produce in the freezer. When you find meals you like, make more servings at once and freeze the extras. You can let them thaw out during the day and heat them up when you get home in the evening.
Drink more water
Juices and sodas are expensive and many of them are just sugar bombs. Drink more water and try flavoring it with fresh fruit like lemons and berries.
Pack in the protein
Protein can be more expensive than other items but it will often keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are more affordable than meat. Beans and dairy products like cheese and yogurt also provide protein at a lower cost.
Fill up on healthy fats
Did you know that healthy saturated fats actually benefit your brain? Foods like raw nuts, avocados, and coconut benefit your body by helping you absorb more nutrients and fueling your brain. They also help keep you full. Add them to meals or pack them as snacks.
Save with soup and stir fry
You can make a wide variety of soups and stir-frys without even following a recipe. All you need is broth, your favorite vegetables and some spices. Add beans, meats or quinoa to make it more filling and you have a simple and affordable meal. You can easily make several batches at once.
Make friends with grocery store employees
Speak with employees to learn when new shipments come in, when sales start and when items go on clearance. This is a great way to get meat for up to 50% off the original price. Many times, grocers will mark down meat on its freeze by date. You can go back to scoop it up that day and cook it that night or freeze for later.
Snacking between classes
If you are out on campus and only have vending machine options, look for roasted nuts, baked chips or crackers, instead of cookies and candy. A better option, however, is to plan ahead. If you have a meal plan, take an extra yogurt, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit before you leave for your first class. If you live off campus, pack snacks ahead of time. Trail mix, nuts, avocados, chopped veggies and fruits can all be eaten on the go.
Make it fun
Invite your friends over for a potluck rather than going out for dinner. Encourage each person to bring a homemade dish for everyone to share. Homemade doesn’t always mean healthy, but you’ll often find this to be a better and more affordable option than a big night out.
It’s easy to be tempted by late night cafes and cheap junk food, but a little extra work will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Be creative with your budget. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find the balance that works best for you.