Healthy Eating on a College Budget

For most college students, meals consist of a lot of Ramen noodles and fast food. On a tight budget, it can be hard to make healthy choices when the dollar menu is so cheap. However, maintaining a healthy diet while staying within a college budget doesn’t have to be impossible.

On average, a college student will spend $60-70 every two weeks grocery shopping. It makes sense you would try to get more bang for your buck by buying large bags of pizza rolls and chicken nuggets. But, is this food really giving your body what it needs to stay healthy?

Central Michigan University dietetics major Kaylee Tiller would argue it is not.

“Meals should be colorful,” Tiller said. “It is important to eat lots of vegetables and protein.”

Tiller gave Grand Central Magazine some tips on staying within a college budget while eating healthy.

$5 can get you a one-time meal at McDonalds OR weeks of frozen vegetables 

Most of the time, it is cheaper to buy healthy foods from the grocery store. You can buy five pounds of frozen chicken for around $16-18. Since you probably won’t eat that much in a few days, freezing meat can last you weeks. Frozen vegetables come in 12-ounce to 24-ounce bags that cost anywhere from $1.75 to $2.25 and contain 6-8 cups, depending on the vegetable and the size of the bag.

It isn’t as hard as it sounds

Most of the time, living healthier doesn’t mean changing your favorite foods, it means substituting them for a healthier alternative.

If you like to eat cereal before class, picking up Multi-Grain Cheerios instead of the normal sugar-filled choice can make a huge difference. (And, it’s the same price!)

Go for grains, not pound-gains

Tiller said grains is also a big part of a healthier diet.

Brown rice fills you up and goes great with chicken and vegetables, unlike its unhealthy counterpart white rice. Also, next time you pick up a loaf of bread for your sandwiches, try choosing the whole wheat option.

Water is free

College kids love the word “free.” The human body needs water to survive, so it’s a major plus that these two things go together.

By refilling your water bottle with one of the many water fountains on campus, you’ll save money by not purchasing sugary drinks  and your body will thank you.

Below, Grand Central Magazine compiled a grocery list comprised of healthy alternatives. For less than $60, this list proves eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to go broke.

GC Grocery List

1 dozen eggs

1 box of brown rice

1/2 gallon of skim milk

1 box of whole grain pasta

1 box of Multi-grain Cheerios

1 jar of peanut butter

16-ounce bag of peanuts (a healthy, filling snack alternative!)

1 loaf of wheat bread

2.5 pounds of frozen chicken breasts

1 package of (lean) ground beef

16-ounce bag of frozen vegetables

1 bundle of bananas

1 head of lettuce

48-ounce bag of apples

Total: $59.86

Eating healthy on a college budget is not impossible. Whether you go once a week or once a month, you can break your unhealthy food choices without breaking the bank.