College students love to complain about food because to be honest, when juggling a tight budget and busy schedule, it can be tricky to factor in healthy eating. If you’re living on campus, you are limited to buffet-style, unhealthy cafeteria food. If you’re living off campus, you have to find time to shop, cook and clean up after all your meals. As a junior, this is my first year living in an off-campus apartment with access to my own full kitchen. Here are five things I do to make sure I always have healthy meals and snacks on hand.
TIP #1: Buy Sale Items in Bulk
My go-to grocery store in New Orleans is Winn-Dixie because it is cheap and they have lots of sales! Whenever I see anything healthy on sale, I make sure to buy a lot of it. Buy-one-get-one-free broccoli? Awesome. I’ll take four. 10 for $10 whole grain pasta? Load ’em up! A lot of the time I will buy things and keep them in my pantry or freezer because who knows when they’ll go on sale again? I don’t ever want to miss out on a two-for-one feta cheese deal!
TIP #2: Prep Your Produce
Bought a bag of celery? Great. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash it, cut and it store it in tupperware or plastic baggies and put it in the fridge. I find that if I have washed and cut fruit and vegetables to munch on, I will almost always opt for that instead of grabbing a handful of tortilla chips or a couple Girl Scout cookies.
TIP #3: Cook In Large Batches
Every Sunday night I like to cook a couple of easy recipies that I can eat all week. I’ll usually make something starchy like a pasta with pesto, something grainy like quinoa with black beans (for protein), and something veggie like chopped greek salad. I will divide those up into various tupperware so when it’s time to eat a meal or pack a lunch, it’s all set to go and I don’t have to worry about portion control.
TIP #4: Never Run Out
Since I eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, I go grocery shopping every week. While stocking up on produce, I always make sure to pick up healthy basics to keep in my pantry so that I never totally run out of food. This way I never come home hungry, realize I have nothing to eat and then spend $15 going out to eat somewhere (probably unhealthy). I always have canned beans (garbanzo, black, kidney), corn, and tuna fish in my pantry that I can toss with some salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar for a quick and satisfying meal. By never letting my reserves get to zero, I am sure to never order Domino’s in desperate hunger.
TIP #5: Stock Your Freezer
While I try to stay away from over processed frozen foods, I always keep a couple bags of frozen veggies (edemame is my favorite) and fruit (berries and mango) that I can defrost in a pinch. It may seem like I have nothing for to eat for breakfast but throw some frozen fruit into a blender with some yogurt, ice and soy milk and you have a smoothie! I also keep indidually wrapped chicken and salmon filets in the freezer that I will take out in the morning to have defrosted by dinner that night.