When it comes to food in college, options can be rough. With limited space in your dorm and a required meal plan it can be challenging to find healthy options while on a budget. Today let’s talk a bit more about some ways to stretch out your cash, without eating junk throughout the college years. Let’s be real, late night study sessions can be rough. What’s worse? Doing it without giving your body the proper fuel it needs.
Keep on reading for my tips and tricks to healthy eating in a dorm kitchen on a budget.
A bit of a backstory.
When in college, I went to a small liberal arts school located in a rural setting. Our food options were quite limited as were the small appliances permitted in our dorm. Food became boring and necessary sustenance eating, rather than something to be enjoyed. For four years, I ate the same thing. Every day. Salads, salads, and applesauce. It was terrible. As I write this article, I hope to remind you that food is meant to be enjoyed and loved! Get creative and push a bit past your norm. Your body and mind will thank you later.
Tip one: Invest in cold foods and lean proteins.
When it comes to your groceries think of ways to make delicious salads, but think outside of the romaine lettuce and standard greens. I love using various beans to add additional proteins to salads, throwing in some dried fruit, and mixing up the combination of veggies. Raw almonds are a lovely treat for some added crunch. Looking for a quick snack? Whip up a black bean salsa and store it in the fridge. Did you know that majority of your grocery cart should be filled with produce? That’s right. Here are some of my recent favorite ways to mix things up. Add an egg on it. An over easy egg can be made in the microwave (I know that sounds crazy.) Add some avocado mash to a piece of toast and you have a delicious breakfast. Add an egg to a dish of pasta or on a pizza for additional protein. For dinner, shave some asparagus, add a vinaigrette to it, spread a bit of cheese on naan or pita and you have a quick and easy naan pizza. Purchase instant grains to make in the microwave and add them to salads for more bulk. Farro, barley, and even instant brown rice make great additions.
Tip two: Rethink your appliances.
When it comes to small appliances in dorms, it’s easy to feel limited as you don’t have a full kitchen at your disposal. Take a look at your appliances and rethink them. For example, in college, I had a single serving blender that I used for smoothies in the mornings. Think a bit further. With a juicing sive you can make cold pressed juice. With some raw almonds and coconut oil you can make fresh almond butter for breakfast (a great recipe for it here). With garbanzo beans, you can whip up a delicious hummus to have with pitas or fresh veggies (recipe here). A recent new favorite of mine- cauliflower mash. Using a steamable package, cook your cauliflower in the microwave. Add cheese, seasonings, a bit of milk, and blend it up. It’s delicious and a great way to get in some extra veggies. In our dorm room we had a toaster. Not only would this make delicious toast, but is perfect for warming naan for open face pizzas or for filling pitas with hummus, veggies, and a bit of feta cheese. One of our quick go-to dinners was a plate of bruschetta. Using only a few ingredients we would make our topping and add it to a piece of whole wheat toast. It only took around 5 minutes and made for a great dinner on the go. (Confession: at times my mom would cook our Thanksgiving turkey in the microwave. It was delicious, moist, and took an hour to make. Make that microwave do some work for you.)
Tip three: Plan out your snacks.
I find that most of my poor eating choices come from lack of planning ahead. Prevent this by thinking through your grocery purchases before shopping. Do you know you have late nights of study ahead? Pick out some healthy options for snacks that fill the need for a crunchy things. I love throwing some almonds in a bag of organic microwave popcorn. It adds a bit of something extra and keeps me going into the night. During the day I love to eating dried cranberries, nuts, and a small apple. The crunch satisfies the cravings without the need for chips, late night fast food runs, or 2 am runs to get a waffle. We’ve all been there. Sometimes late night dinner food feels irresistible.
Tip four: One cup a day.
Limit your coffee intake to one cup a day. If you have a late night of studying ahead, opt for a glass of tea instead. Excessive consumption of caffeine is rough on you, your skin, and when sitting for hours a day can make you incredibly on edge. I get it. Sometimes your body really wants the mid-day or evening second cup. You’re sitting in a one o’clock class after lunch and are entering a food coma. Carry around a bottle of nice, cold water. Anytime you get tired, drink up. Your body will be refreshed and alert. Keep on drinking water. Sometimes I find I’m tired because I’ve been sitting for too long. If your professors permit it-stand up in the back of class as they are giving their lecture. You’ll burn more calories and it’s a great way to stay alert.
What about you?
What are some of your favorite ways to eat healthy while living in the dorm? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.