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

In college, one of the many difficulties we face is food insecurity. Going to a new city, specifically a new college town, usually brings a variety of new foods to try from. For many of us, it’s not that simple. We have to worry about money for food, finding the time to eat in between our busy schedules, and making sure we are still eating healthily. 

Aside from the occasional indulgence, we can’t afford to always be eating out. However, due to our busy schedules it’s difficult to find the time to cook meals as well. It doesn’t have to be all that difficult, though. Here are just a few ways to make sure you are eating good, on time, and at a reasonable price. 

Building the Meal

If you want a balanced meal, you want to include most, if not all, of the food groups. The five food groups are “Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy.” As mentioned before, it is difficult to include all of these food groups in a given meal, for various reasons, the biggest one being that it is often too expensive to shop for a variety of each group. Food Network lists a few items to always make sure you have stocked in the pantry or any cool place. For protein, an affordable cut of meat you can get is ground beef, and a great meatless option is canned beans. For fruits and vegetables, a cheaper alternative that is easier to store are frozen veggies and fruits. For grains, the cheapest options are to buy rice, oats, and pasta in bulk, which has a long shelf life and can be used in many different recipes. As for dairy, if you wish to consume dairy products, milk is already an inexpensive option, but cheese is a slightly better choice as it lasts longer, according to One on One. All of these ingredients can be used for quick, low effort meals such as fried rice, burritos or burrito bowls, oatmeal, smoothies, various soups, and one-pan pasta dishes. 

Finding the time

Now, here are some ways you can save time between meals and throughout the week. Some ways were already mentioned above: having food items with a long shelf life will save you a lot of time when it comes to cooking and grocery shopping, in case you don’t have a lot of time to do either. Having frozen veggies and fruits will also help save you time in preparing your meals. Another really good way to save time is by meal prepping. According to Budget Bytes, not only does this save you a lot of time throughout the week, it is also possible to meal prep with most of the ingredients listed above. This will also ensure that you don’t have an irregular eating schedule. 

I know first hand how hard it is to make sure you are eating healthy while also making sure you have time to do other activities. I also know that always worrying about whether or not you’re spending too much money on food can be very stressful. You don’t need to feel stressed about meals, in fact, you shouldn’t. Hopefully this article can show that you can eat well and still save money and time.

Hi all! My name is Cassandra Sanchez and I am an English Major at UC Santa Barbara. I am from San Diego, California and my interests include reading, writing, and drawing.