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Eating Well on a College Girl’s Budget

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Maine chapter.


Eating Well on a College Girl’s Budget

One of the biggest barriers to healthy eating is the perception that it’s so much more expensive to fill your cart up with the good stuff.  And let’s face it – many of us on a college income don’t want to blow all of our weekly budget on groceries.  But contrary to popular belief, “healthy” food does not always have to set you back.

There’s a few tips and tricks to not only save money on your grocery bill, but also fill with your cart with healthy, delicious new options!


Meatless Monday: “Meatless Monday” is a media movement to cut back, once a week, on meat consumption both for purposes of individual health and global sustainability.  You can visit the meatlessmonday.com website for more specifics on the movement, but the main take-away? Purchasing meat is pricey, so cutting it out even once a week will save money and cooking time.  You can swap the meat in any dish for grains, legumes, extra veggies, or cheeses. 

Speaking of Grains and Legumes…: Grains (rice, quinoa, barley, millet, etc.) and legumes (beans and lentils) are super money-savers.  These options are very inexpensive, especially if you buy them in bulk.  Grains and legumes are packed full of protein and fiber, they are great meat-substitutes from time to time.

Buying in Bulk: The bulk section is the healthy-girl-on-a-budget’s best friend.  Oats, pastas, dried fruit, trail mixes, nuts, granola – you can find all of these in the bulk section of most groceries stores.  By skipping the packaging, you save money and the environment.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and veggies are great for you, and great for your budget as long as you know how to buy.  In-season fruits and veggies are always cheaper.  Frequently, grocery stores have different sale fruits/vegetable weekly, so choose your produce based upon what is marked down that week.  Frozen out-of-season produce is also typically reasonably priced, and the freezing-process still retains nutrients.

Packaged “Healthy” Goods: Do your own investigative work here.  Packaged organic or all-natural foods are almost always going to cost you more than their conventional counter-parts, so do your homework to see what you exactly you are paying for before making your choice.  Read the ingredients label to see how much the two differ.  If the better ingredients and sustainable packaging in the health-food packaged item is worth the cash to you, get it.  If the ingredients hardly differ at all, and the conventional packaged good is a dollar less, that’s probably your best bet.

“Healthy” and “Organic”: When you’re in the produce section, you might be confused by the organic labeling or put off by the higher prices. What you are paying for with organic is the fact that they do not contain pesticides, and were grown and harvested in certifiably organic conditions.  If you want to buy organic but are concerned about the higher prices, save your money specifically for “the dirty dozen” and then buy the rest of your produce in the non-organic variety.  The “dirty dozen” refer to twelve certain types of conventionally-grown produce that contain the most pesticides because they are more porous and absorbent. These twelve worth splurging for include:

1.      Peaches

2.      Apples

3.      Sweet bell peppers

4.      Celery

5.      Nectarines

6.      Strawberries

7.      Cherries

8.      Pears

9.      Grapes

10.  Imported spinach

11.  Lettuce

12.  Potatoes