Eating healthy can be hard on college budget

Eating healthy is a challenge even when you have all the time in the world. But when you’re on the run, making good choices can be almost impossible.

I recently found myself making a lot of excuses for my poor eating habits. I was going out to eat on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day, and paying for it dearly both on the scale and in my wallet.

I made the excuse that I didn’t have time to cook myself dinner because I only had 30-40 minutes for a break. Most of the time that meant going to Tickle’s Deli or Picasso’s for lunch. That was sometimes followed by a dinner date to El Toro Loco or Khao Thai.

Now that I’ve realized that this routine is extreme, I started making plans. I make food plans so that I have an organized schedule for how much time I have to eat and what I’m going to eat. I still go out to dinner with my boyfriend, but now if I do I try to only eat half of the monstrous serving they feed you and save the rest for my lunch the next day.

Instead of eating a plate of pasta – something that would cost $2 to make at home – I save my carbs for lunch and instead order something that I wouldn’t normally make at home.

Making food ahead of time cuts down on my cooking time during the week. It’s a great tool for saving time, calories and cash.

I buy a lot of my food at Sam’s Club and freeze it. Then when I’m ready to eat, I just have to grill, fry or bake it for 10-20 minutes. Buying in bulk makes my meals on average $3 or less. When I was a sophomore, my three roommates and I split a Sam’s membership. By splitting the cost four ways we get two cards and only pay $10 a year.

Once a month I buy 10 pounds of chicken breast, take it home, marinate it and freeze it in serving size portions. In the morning I can leave for class and take the chicken out to thaw, then when I come back to my apartment for lunch I can put it on the George Foreman for 10 minutes and boil some quinoa. At that point I have a really healthy meal and it only took 10 minutes to make – the same amount of time it would take to drive to Arby’s and back.

The amount of time I have to spare hasn’t increased at all, but my checking account output has. And my caloric intake has decreased.

I feel better about myself now that I’m eating less greasy, fast food. But I’m most proud of myself for making better choices.



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