It’s the end of August…. which means the start of a new semester! I graduated college over 4 years ago but honestly, I still do miss those days. Dorming, staying up late, weekend outings….it was my first taste of freedom away from home and it was certainly a growing experience.
It’s funny how when you first start college, everyone tells you to be careful of the Freshmen 15 – no, not to study hard or network….but they tell you to watch out for your weight. It’s true though, eating healthy in college can be tough, especially when you’re a broke student. Microwavable meals, dining hall food, and of course, instant ramen tend to be the norm.
So if you’re a poor college student, can you still eat healthy and well on a budget…without a kitchen? Yes, you can! Sure, it’s a lot more different when all you have is a microwave and a fridge that can only hold a few cans of “soda”…but yes, it’s possible.
- Your microwave will be your best friend. Believe it or not, you can cook a lot more in a microwave, aside from gross, packaged frozen meals. I’m talking rice, eggs, oatmeal…even protein. It took me awhile but I definitely perfected the art of microwaved steamed eggs in college. Here is a great list of 40 delicious (and unexpected things) you can cook in a microwave.
- If you have a dining hall plan, consider yourself lucky. You don’t have to cook for yourself. Dining hall food can get a bad rep but it’s really not that bad since there are so many options. You can still eat healthy, as long as you make good choices. For instance, stay away from the grill – hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza- or any fried food, including those chicken fingers you love. Stick to the salad bar and sandwiches and wraps. Also, be sure to drink water, not all that sugary stuff. Just because there is an endless supply of soda doesn’t mean you should drink with every meal.
- Learn to shop better. College may be the first time you’re grocery shopping on your own and you’ll probably be tempted to stock up on nothing but chips and cookies….but control yourself. For a snack, stick to veggies and fruits you can easily grab and go with, such as carrots, apples and bananas. For lunch or dinner, get canned or frozen veggies and meats, such as tuna, broccoli, and peas. They’re not as healthy as the fresh kind but it’s better than nothing!
- If you’re living on campus, your dorm probably has a communal kitchen somewhere, equipped with pots, pan and everything you need. You probably don’t have time to be cooking every night but do it once in awhile. Make it into a fun social gathering with you friends – it can be your first dinner party…right in your dorm room!
- College is college…and having a drink is almost like a right of passage. At the same time, limit your alcohol consumption. After all, it doesn’t do any good to your body. Ever heard the term ‘beer belly’?
- However, if you still want to eat ramen (and I don’t blame you because it’s damn tasty), here are some idea on how to get creative. I’m talking ramen-pizza-type-of-creative.
If your college days are a thing of the past, how did you eat healthy on a budget?