In parts 1 and 2 I went over inexpensive, healthy foods and how to prepare them. (if you haven’t read them the summary is: You have no excuse for buying cheap, crappy food.) However, part 2 was aimed at those with access to a kitchen and cooking equipment. But what if you live in a dorm? Bugger.
Not to fear! I have solutions for this as well! Let’s start with what can be done in the dorm. I assume that most college kids are stocked with a microwave, mini-fridge and basic eating utensils (bowls, plate, spoon, fork…coffee bean grinder, oh wait, that was just my coffee-loving husband.) I also assume that most of the meals will be eaten in a dining hall.
Groceries to keep on hand:
- Oatmeal/couscous (ok, I know couscous is a bit more expensive but if you’re not doing full grocery runs all the time like someone without a meal plan, then you can afford the couscous). Both of these can be made in microwaves with a little water. They’re a decent base for most meals that would require rice (microwavable rice is just icky, you’ll glean more nutrients and fiber from oats and couscous.) Also oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start your day.
- Peanut butter and jelly (always) and decent wheat bread (nothing with a laundry list of ingredients that most of them could be found in laundry detergent now that I think of it.)
- Canned tuna/chicken, beans and tomatoes. Combine these with some oatmeal and you have yourself a decent meal.
- Yogurt (NOT Yoplait which = sugar syrup). Instead go for plain or vanilla. Greek yogurt offers a fair amount of protein per serving and is thicker than normal yogurt. Add some frozen berries and nuts to these and you have a decent late-night snack (or breakfast) that won’t help add to the Freshman (or sophomore, or junior…) 15.
- Nuts of some sort; these are good to take the edge off your apetite when you’re studying late at night (instead of chowing down on pizza). Just watch the portion size.
- If you have a freezer of some sort, frozen veggies and fruits. If you don’t, keep carrots/celery and hummus (chickpeas = fiber. Much better than ranch dressing) to get a veggie fix. Instead of berries, bananas and apples are cheap and can be stored at room temp and can be added to the aforementioned yogurt mix.
- Eggs, they can be poached in the microwave. If you don’t have time to run to the dining hall for breakfast, toss in two eggs and slap them on bread for protein/fat rich breakfast that will fuel you till lunch.
What about the dining hall?
Most colleges, at least I hope, have a lot of different foods to offer. Unfortunately, they tend to offer a lot more not-so-healthy foods alongside the healthy ones. And without Mom telling you to eat your vegetables, who’s to stop you from having pizza every meal for a week? Your body, that’s who. Trust me, after a semester of eating whatever you want will take it’s toll and you’ll be wondering who slipped you some Polyjuice Potion and turned you into Hagrid.
I’ve written about it before, eat real food. While I know the plethora of desirous food is set before you, if you want to stay healthy during your college years, stay away from the fried, greasy and high-fat and high-sugar foods (I’m looking at you, Mr. Pizza Hut Man). Here’s an easy checklist:
- Do you have at least one vegetable (that’s NOT lettuce or a tomato on a sandwich)?
- Do you have a lean protein source? (pepperoni doesn’t count)
- Is you carbohydrate either a fruit or whole grain and less than 50% of the meal?
- Don’t you wish you went to Hogwarts?
If you answered “yes” to all those questions (except maybe the last one) you’ll most likely have a healthy, balanced meal in front of you. This is the key to maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle while still enjoying your college experience*.
And if you’re still not so sure about this whole “eating healthy thing” SAPT offers nutritional counseling (contact me) and can help you navigate the vast ocean that is nutrition.
My last words on this subject:
Eat. More. Vegetables.
*This is not to say that you can’t indulge every once and while, enjoy yourself, but “once and while” means just that.