College doesn’t have to be about all-you-can-eat dining halls and weekends spent playing beer pong. In fact, it really shouldn’t be about either of those! Yes, it is possible AND easy to eat healthy as a busy college student–it’s all about stocking your kitchen right and prepping when you have time.
A lot of these tips are best for college students with an apartment and access to a kitchen because that’s my current situation, but if you’re a dorm-dweller you can still give these a try or keep them in mind for your first apartment experience.
Produce may be expensive but it’s one of the best investments you can make in your health. The best part is you can save money on it. Some stores discount their fruits and veggies when they’re about to go bad so you can get a ton of produce and save it for later. Or you can buy produce in season and freeze it it to have year round. Sprouts is my go to store for cheaper produce and they have organics at reasonable prices. Whole Foods is great for specialties and exotics and they’re not always outrageously priced.
Having plenty of nonperishables on hand is key to saving time and money. Canned beans (no salt added, just beans and water), nut butters, plant-based protein powders, dried fruit (no added sugars), no salt no oil microwave popcorn, spices, stevia, dried grains and legumes, tomato paste, coconut oil and almond meal are all things that I keep on hand most of the time. They’re all super simple to prepare and have ingredients I feel good about eating. They also keep for awhile so they’re worth buying, and anyway, they’re a lot cheaper than prepackaged stuff!
You can still indulge in college student favorites without compromising your healthy standards. I used to avoid most cereals because they were too sugary or had questionable additives, but once I discovered One Degree Organic Foods there was no turning back. They use sprouted grains (easier to digest than regular ones), coconut sugar (unrefined and low glycemic) and organic ingredients, among other healthy business practices. Their cacao crisps are way better than cocoa Krispies!
If you know me at all, you know I have a MAJOR sweet tooth! But…refined sugar isn’t the best for you. That doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to desserts forever, you just have to do them smarter. Dark chocolate (the darker the better), Larabars (I looove the chocolate chip ones and the cappuccino flavor), dates with coconut oil and fruit are what I rely on for daily desserts. For more more special occasions (aka the weekend), I make vegan and gluten free desserts made with honey or maple syrup, oftentimes raw or protein packed and with whole foods ingredients. That way, I satisfy my desire for desserts without feeling bad later!
Eating healthy in college shouldn’t be expensive, boring or hard–just do your healthy eating homework ahead of time, shop smart, prep when you have time and enjoy what you’re making!