College students know that eating well is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, but most are unable to do so while in university. According to a study, some of the barriers to a healthy diet include having to adjust to university environment and student life, as well as the soaring prices of food. Indeed, it can be a challenge to find time for a healthy meal when you’re trying to keep up with your studies, but it’s even more difficult when you’re a student on a tight budget.
The good news is that there are ways to have access to fresh, healthy food even when money is tight. With a little self-discipline and preparation, students can eat well on a budget and adopt healthy eating behaviors while in college.
Make Your Own Meals
Most students who need funds for school supplies, food, and other college expenses usually turn to side hustles, such as tutoring or writing content to earn some money without affecting their studies. Others sell their collectibles online, and some students, such as those who obtain rare gold antique coins, even make enough money to support themselves for years after selling their precious items. Finding a way to earn some extra money enables you to buy organic produce or eat at restaurants that serve good-for-you fare, but it’s not the only way to have access to healthy food when you’re strapped for cash.
If you’re on a tight budget, making your own meals is one way to cut down on food costs. Check out your communal kitchen– you’ll likely find some cooking tools there to make simple yet filling meals. If there aren’t any, check with your school if you’re allowed to bring in dorm appliances. Most colleges don’t allow appliances like toasters, electric stoves, or microwaves since these can be dangerous. But others are more lenient, provided that your appliances meet the school’s required specs. Some appliances that may get approved include a small rice cooker, which you can use to heat soup or make oatmeal, rice, or steamed vegetables. You may also be allowed to bring a panini press, which is useful for making grilled sandwiches or cooking thin strips of meat.
Know Where to Buy Cheap Ingredients
Once you’ve got a way to make meals, it’s time to find out where you can get healthy food at the cheapest price. First, plan on buying versatile ingredients with a long shelf life, such as rice, dried pasta, condiments, canned tuna, canned vegetables, and the like from the grocery store. Don’t buy them in bulk though, since you may get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. Next, add some vegetables and fruits. Always buy fresh produce in season, and check out grocery store chains because they almost always run specials on excess veggies and fruits. If you’d rather buy from the farmer’s market, ask for seconds. Simply put, these are fruits and vegetables that don’t look great, but they’re edible just the same. You may end up paying half the price of what your favorite veggies and fruits normally cost.
As for eggs, it’s no secret that they’ve gotten much more expensive this year. However, it’s good to have eggs on hand when you don’t know what to eat and you just want a quick and healthy meal. Currently, places like Dollar General, Walmart, and Hy-vee have the cheapest eggs available, starting at $2.50 per dozen. Check out these places and compare prices before you buy.
Try Food From Other Cultures
Dining out is a favorite activity among college students. While it’s a great way to bond with your classmates, frequently eating at restaurants or fast food chains outside the campus can do a number on your health and wallet. To dine out without impacting your finances or wellbeing, set a limit. See if you can dine out no more than two or three times a week. If you do eat outside the school, consider trying food from other cultures, such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Ethiopian, and Mexican food, among others. Some of the most delicious and authentic food from these cultures are quite affordable, and they’re loaded with vegetables so they’re good for you.
College life can have an impact on your health, so prioritize healthy eating to stay well. Consider these tips to eat well on a budget, and see what a difference it makes on your wallet and wellbeing.