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Cooking Off-Campus: Healthy Alternatives to Spending Money and Gaining Calories

It’s the second week of the semester and most of us are still adjusting to our new living situations.  If you’re living on campus, this simply means hanging out with your new roommates, decorating your room, and meeting your neighbors.  However, for those of us living off-campus, this adjustment has expanded to include much more.
One of the major additions to the adjustment process has been mastering the task of keeping yourself fed.  Sure, for the first couple weeks this task may seem easy, even exciting.  You and your roommates have big plans- you’re going to cook lavish meals every night, leaving the bland thoughts of Lower and Mac to those still confined to their limited, sometimes questionable, options.  However, I guarantee this excitement will wear off.  You’ll be walking home from Bapst or the Plex, starving and exhausted, and the last thing you’re going to want to do is cook.  So what do you do?  Pick up the phone and order pizza?  Chinese?  Maybe you won’t even make it home.  You’ll decide to stop at Lower and buy a meal reminiscent of your simpler, on-campus life.  All the while using the Eagle Bucks your mom put in your account specifically for coffee from the Chocolate Bar or toothpaste from the Bookstore.

All of these choices will seem wildly appealing at the time.  Your exhaustion will be pleading with you to give in, friends will be peer pressuring you to do the same, and delivery men will be calling out for you to call them (this may happen regardless of the hunger).  However, all of these choices are going to cost you in one way or another, whether it’s calories or cash.  But you don’t have to give in!  There are many easy and healthy ways to avoid making these tempting, yet less than ideal choices.  These cooking alternatives will save you money, cut calories, and taste great too!
Instead of…

1.  Ordering Pizza
Make your own using Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins™!  The whole thing is only 100 calories and made with tons of good-for-you whole grains.  Top each side of the thin with jarred tomato sauce, low- fat mozzarella cheese, and your favorite toppings.  Put your pizzas in a conventional or toaster oven, wait for the cheese to melt, and you’re done!  Two mini, low calorie pizzas in just minutes!

Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins


  • Use low fat string cheese to top your pizza to save even more calories and time.
  • Make a bunch of these low calorie pizzas at once and freeze them.  Having these ready in your freezer could help you avoid making the unthinkable, yet often irresistible journey to Late Night for pizza and whatever else you stumble upon.  Skip the trip and heat up on of your readymade pizzas.  You’ll wake up feeling much better in the morning – at least about what you ate.

2.  Ordering Chinese
Make your own “not fried rice” using microwavable brown rice.  A lot of brands, like Uncle Ben’s ™, are making brown rice that’s ready to serve in 90 seconds.  Prepare egg whites and your favorite frozen vegetables, combine with this easy-to-make rice, and add low sodium soy sauce or any Asian-inspired sauce for a quick and easy meal that provides protein and carbs to keep you satisfied and curbs your cravings.


Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice


  • Add chicken to the rice for a heartier, even healthier meal.
  • Eating slower allows your body the time to let you know when it’s full and allows you to actually enjoy what you’re eating.  Eat with chopsticks to slow down your eating and make the experience more authentic.

3.  Giving Up and Going to Lower
Last year my roommate and I (and I’m sure a lot of other BC girls) survived on the grilled chicken from Lower.  We always felt like it was the safest, healthiest option there.  Products such as Perdue’s Perfect Portion Chicken ™ give you the same safe, healthy option, but take much less time to prepare than standing in those insanely long dinner-time lines.  These pieces of chicken come packaged so that you can easily prepare a single serving of chicken for yourself in minutes.  Marinate the chicken in your favorite dressing while you’re finishing up your paper (or that episode of True Blood), put it in a non-stick grill pan on top of the stove, and you’ll have a perfect portion of grilled chicken in minutes.  Serve it on top of a salad or with a side of your Uncle Ben’s™ brown rice for two of Lower’s dinner options minus the cost and the wait.

Perdue’s Perfect Portion Chicken


  • Prepare the portions of chicken when you have the time and keep refrigerated so they’ll be ready to add to a salad or put on a sandwich at any time throughout the day.

All of these alternatives are meant to make your off-campus life healthier and easier.  However, desperate situations may arise and you may be persuaded to think otherwise.  You’ll have visions of yourself slaving over the hot stove, your homework sitting on the table unfinished, the empty treadmill at the Plex collecting dust without you on it.  When these horrifying images begin to cloud your judgment, remember:  all of these options will take less or the same amount of time as ordering food, giving up and going to a dining hall, or sitting around talking about how hungry you are.  You’ll be saving time, calories, and money.  However, if you recite this mantra to yourself and still want to order the pizza, just go for it.  Remember, this is college and one slice won’t kill you.

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