Kayla Slater, Columnist
Everyone can eat healthy on a budget. If you live off campus, you may find it hard to pick healthy options or plan what to make when you don’t have a lot of time or money. Junk food and package meals may be cheaper, but by shopping smart you can choose healthier options. Follow these tips and you will find it is possible to eat healthy even when you may not have a lot a time or are a broke college student.
1) Before you go grocery shopping, plan your meals for the week and make a list. This makes it easier to shop and to stick to your budget. You will not only save time in the store because you know to buy only what is on your list, but you will also save time during the week by already knowing what you have to make. A few cheap and easy meal ideas include: chicken parmesan, spaghetti, stir fry, ravioli, fish, penne with veggies, rice and beans, veggie burgers, chicken salad, chicken quesadilla, chili or veggie pizza. Tip: prepare meals with all food groups in mind: protein, carbohydrate, vegetable, fruit and dairy
2) Buy products that you can use more than once. When you are buying and cooking just for yourself, you may not need as much as you get. For example, when you buy a jar of marinara sauce, you really only need half to make chicken parmesan. The other half you can save in the refrigerator to use for pasta.
3) Cook once a week and freeze the rest. Instead of buying frozen dinners, make your own! If you don’t have time to cook a homemade meal from scratch, cook a meal for more than one serving and freeze it to eat during the week. Or you can save it in the refrigerator for leftovers.
4) Look for items that are on sale. Grocery stores usually have discounts on certain foods. If you see mandarin oranges on sale, buy them!
5) Buy foods that are in season. Even though farmer’s markets aren’t available in winter time, fruits and vegetables that are in season are still cheaper. Fruits and vegetables that are in season now:
Fruits: lemons, oranges, grapefruit and pears
Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, kale, lettuce and onions.
Cheap essential foods per food group:
Vegetables: frozen or in season (steam frozen vegetables, you will lose less nutrients than if you boil them in water)
Fruit: frozen or in season (green grapes are cheaper than red grapes)
Protein: eggs, tuna, chicken (if you buy chicken in bulk, individually freeze to keep longer).
Grains: whole grain bread/sandwich thins, spinach/whole grain wraps, multi-grain pasta, whole grain rice (the recommendation by the Dietary Guidelines is to make at least half of your grains whole).
Dairy: 1% or skim milk, store brand non-fat yogurt; tip: buy plain yogurt and put fresh fruit in it.
Don’t buy vegetables/fruit pre-cut or instant rice/oats. These food items are more expensive. It may seem easier since you don’t have to take time to prepare, but try preparing food ahead of time. For example, cut up veggies and fruit and place in freezer bags or Tupperware for the week. You’ll be more likely to choose them as a snack if they are readily available. Make a salad ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for the week. Cook rice and keep in the refrigerator. You can even make granola. Granola can be very expensive, but it’s cheap and easy to make. All you need are oats, trail mix with dried fruit, honey, vegetable oil and brown sugar. Then just mix and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Hope these tips will help you choose wiser and eat healthier!