Paying for rent and tuition in college is hard enough, but worrying about groceries and meals adds a whole other daily financial burden to worry about. It’s not uncommon for students to skip meals or eat unhealthy food, simply because they don’t have the money to buy nutritious meals. This is the sad reality for a lot of college students, but with some recipe planning and sticking to inexpensive grocery stores, it doesn’t have to be.
There are many places to buy groceries near College Park but the question is, “which ones are worth it?” One of the best inexpensive options that is also within walking distance to campus is Lidl. Located on Route 1 and selling food in bulk at a cheap price, they have a wide variety of options that definitely won’t break the bank.
Sophomore aerospace engineering major Tadhg Martinez is living in an expensive apartment off-campus this semester, not leaving him with a lot of money to spend on himself, including on food.
“I make sure to budget my spending and I’ll go to Lidl around every two weeks and stock up. The prices are great for what you get,” Martinez says. Another popular place to shop that is practically on campus is Target. A 20 ro 30 minute walk from North Campus, and is perfect for any freshmen who need to pick up a few snacks to keep in their dorm. It’s even more convenient for students living off campus.
“As a freshman, I would walk to Target when I wanted to get some easy on-the-go snacks. I would get some granola bars and my favorite Special K pastry crisps,” says undecided sophomore Ellie Feldman. Feldman explains how she goes even more this year as it is only a two minute walk away from her sorority house. While Target doesn’t have the biggest selection for food, it has a decent amount of snacks to get and keep in your dorm when you need something quick to eat.
Amazon is another great option to order snacks and on-the-go food options that takes all of one minute to place an order on your phone and will most likely arrive in under three days. Amazon is an accessible place to shop for things like protein bars andshakes, granola bars, oatmeal, and travel size snack bags that are great to toss in your bag when you're running late for class.
As for what foods and ingredients to actually purchase, functionalist diagnostic nutrition practitioner, Mary Tufano recommends focusing on getting frozen vegetables and organic fruit. “Buy some frozen veggies to steam and throw them in the microwave for a minute,” she says. Tufano focuses on promoting balanced and healthy eating to prevent sickness and increase well-being.
An easy meal option Tufano suggests is salads, as you can customize the ingredients to your liking, it’s healthy, and you can make a big portion to last you a few days. She also suggests dark chocolate, rice cakes with almond or peanut butter spread, protein bars, and greek yogurt for a nutritious snack in between meals.
Overall the three biggest aspects of your diet to focus on as a busy college student are fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Fruits and vegetables are crucial because they’re not only healthy and nutritious, but they’re also easy snacks to grab on the run and are a good source of energy. Protein is important because it’s what helps keep you full and satisfied.
According to Dr. Michelle Hauser, a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a certified chef and nutrition educator, “protein takes more energy for you to digest than refined carbohydrates, and also gives your body a feeling of satiety.” Tufano recommends chicken bone broth as an excellent source of protein. It’s inexpensive and takes 30 seconds to heat up, but packs around 10 grams of protein per serving. This is a great product to incorporate into a diet, not only for the protein, but also for gut health.
“College students need healthy bacteria in their guts as they are not typically making the best food choices and tend to eat late at night,” Tufano emphasized.
Other great sources of protein include chicken, in any form whether it be a breast you cook in an air fryer or deli meat you throw in a sandwich. Eggs are another easy option as they can easily be made in the microwave and pair well with a lot of foods.
It’s easy to overlook healthy eating, and even eating at all as a stressed out, constantly on the move college student, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s this busy lifestyle college students have that makes eating well even more crucial to stay healthy and energized. Even though it may take some meal planning and a little bit of shopping, maintaining a good diet in college is certainly possible and very important.