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My grocery list has changed alot since my first semester at GW. From eating scrambled eggs and ham and cheese sandwiches to making tofu bowls with rice and steamed veggies, my eating habits have changed as well. But as a college student you probably know that eating healthy comes at a cost. Apart from DC’s high-priced grocery stores, it can be hard to find the time to cook between classes, work, and org meetings. I’m not saying it’s an easy process, but finding a budget that works for your schedule AND your wallet is so worth it. 

planning is key

Making a budget can sound so daunting, but all it really entails is knowing how to plan ahead. You might be thinking, how can I plan a trip to the grocery store when I can barely finish my readings? First of all, same. Second of all, putting your health over everything else is not the worst thing in the world. According to a health supplements website abecsw.org, “Students who ate fast food a minimum of seven times in the past week had a lower GPA compared to those who ate it fewer than four times.”

As GW students we’re both blessed and cursed with our meal plan because it’s so easy to go to Chipotle or Panera seven times a week. Yet, sometimes all I want is a home-cooked meal, which is hard because home is 2,000 miles away. So, one night I decided to make the very adult decision to buy a rice cooker. Let’s just say the first batch did not get as I expected, but four weeks after buying a 4 dollar bag of rice I’m proud to say that I’ve had rice with at least 10 of my meals. So, I say that it’s never too late to start taking ownership of our spending and well-being.

Planning ahead can consist of putting a few sticky notes on your desk and writing down the things that you would like to eat throughout the week. For example, my roommate has a list pasted to the fridge that says green goddess salad, nachos, and tomato soup. Her biggest tip? A can of beans, tortillas, and a whole bunch of vegetables will save you lots of money. At the end of the week you can compile all of your sticky notes into one list and decide what you would like to buy. Once you have an idea about the ingredients that you’ll need, look them up on the website of the grocery store of your choice. This will give you an idea of what is really worth buying. 


Effective budgeting also depends on your goals are for your mind and body. My friend Cristiana, a local GW gym rat, suggests that diet looks different for everyone and eating protein can keep you feeling nourished for longer periods of time. She also says that the longer you spend drinking water (at least 8 ounces per day), the less time you have for drama. Honestly, these are some wise words. Personally, one of my goals this semester is to eat more vegetarian foods. Our very own vegan club @GWVegOut points out that focusing on whole-food plant-based proteins such as tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds and combining it with pasta can be a cheaper and better option than processed alternative proteins. Some of their favorite accounts for recipes are @cheaplazyvegan and @rainbowplantbased. 

Some things to keep in mind as you peruse the aisles:

  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables to make filling smoothies
  • Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach, go in with a game plan
  • If you have the  time, read the food labels 
  • Make sure to budget for those 1 am cravings
Laura was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Currently, she is a sophomore and is double majoring in Psychology and Business. Laura enjoys dancing, running, reading, and listening to podcasts in her free time.
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