Eating well is hard. Eating well while on a budget is perhaps much harder.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
During my college years, I found ways to eat well and save money at the same time. Some of this took a lot of discipline, but most of it took finding what types of foods I preferred when I listened to my body and realized that some foods weren’t good for me.
And let’s face it, a lot of the foods we prefer aren’t always the best for us. BUT tastes can be acquired and change over time. So I hope sharing some of my suggestions for eating better will help you all.
Let’s start with the eating well side of this article.
Some easy snacks
The following is a list of quick and easy snacks that can give you energy throughout your day.
- Rice cakes
- KIND bars
- Clif Bars
- Baby carrots
- Granola and yogurt
- Mixed nuts
Prioritize fruits and veggies
Yes, I’m a health and wellness specialist. So yes, I’m supposed to say this to you. But also yes, I live this aspect of my advice. I love fruits and I love veggies. I eat them every day. They truly are very good for you. They’re also very accessible as snacks! So load up a baggy of baby carrots, an apple, some grapes, some celery sticks, and hummus to dip them in, and you have some easy snacks for your day.
Stay away from Top Ramen packets
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, and it’s pretty tasty. BUT those packets are loaded with sodium. So if you aren’t exercising regularly, you run the risk of doing some damage to your heart by prioritizing ramen in your diet. Instead, buy a bag of potatoes and make some baked potatoes, or homemade mashed potatoes. Much healthier, less sodium, still cost-effective.
Now, for the cheap side of this article.
If you are a working college student, apply for food stamps. These are also known as SNAP benefits, and a quick online search will get you on your way to receiving them.
I was on food stamps two times during college and they helped me out tremendously when I needed them. All I can suggest is at least applying for them. The minimum requirements often request that you work at least 20 hours per week, confirm your employment, and be enrolled in college full-time. You will need
With food stamps, you can get up to $200 per month, depending on your situation (i.e. family, children, roommates), to put towards the food and beverages that you
Pro-tip: when applying, make sure to make it clear that you do not share food with your roommates, but instead that you buy your own food for yourself. This is important. Also, if you even try to alcohol with food stamps, they can get revoked.
Pack your lunch/snacks
You will be able to save much more money in the long run if you make the effort to pack your food/snacks for the day ahead of time. Even if it’s something you will need to microwave once you get to campus, you can find microwaves in most of the dining centers on campus.
I pack my fruits, rice cakes, granola bars, and an occasional sandwich every morning and it helps me refrain from spending money that I don’t need to spend on campus. The best part about fruits and veggies as snacks is that they’re cheap. Instead of paying $2 for a candy bar, you’re paying $2 for a two-pound bag of baby carrots that can last you a week! It’s like magic.
There you go! I wish you the best of luck in taking this step into eating better and saving money along the way!