When ramen noodles are just a few cents a pack it can be hard to justify spending several dollars on a meal made with fresh ingredients when you're on an extremely tight budget. While the ramen might fill you up, it's not even coming close to meeting your nutritional needs, nor will frozen pizzas, hot pockets or copious amounts of Oreos and Funyuns. For that, you'll have to look for healthier foods which many college students may shy away from because they're not always budget-friendly. Yet eating healthy doesn't have to take away from money you'd rather spend going out with friends or buying clothes. It can be done on a budget very easily if you know how to shop. Here are some tips to make eating healthy on a shoestring budget a reality for struggling college students.
Shop smart. Whether you clip coupons, read weekly fliers or shop outside the big box stores for produce, there are loads of smart ways to reduce the cost of your groceries.
Pick up lots of grains and beans. Both taste good and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Better yet, they cost next to nothing when bought in bulk. If you've never cooked either before, there are plenty of recipes to help you online. Or, you can opt for pre-cooked versions and simply nuke them in the microwave.
Watch out for processed foods. Yes, they are cheap and yes, sometimes they are quite tasty, but the bottom line is that they're simply not good for you. They provide empty calories with little or no nutritional value. So, opt for natural instead of processed. For instance, instead of a bag of chips go for nuts or trail mix.
Make more food than you need when you cook. Sounds wasteful, but if you freeze the leftovers you'll have a pre-made meal for later on down the road that's healthy and can feed you fast.
Plan meals. It might be a bit of a pain, but it can paya off big time when you're on a budget. It will let you better figure out what you can afford to eat and what meals you'll make over the course of the next few weeks. Plus, you can plan to cook a big meal one night and feast on leftovers for days.
It's not impossible to eat healthy as a college student but it will take some planning to do right. Knowing what to buy and how to get it for the best price is only the start of a healthy diet. You'll also need to learn how to start cooking and planning for meals. Once you learn these skills, however, you'll have them for a lifetime.
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