How to Eat Healthy & Cheap in College

Even if you’re in college and strapped for cash, a little strategy and planning can still have you eating healthy. Having a healthy diet is extremely important if you’re a student. Nutrient-dense food gives you the fuel to power through the other unhealthy habits you’ve acquired in the name of good grades, like pulling all-nighters. Thankfully, healthy eating can be just as easy as hitting a drive-through, and a lot cheaper.

Here are five tried-and-true steps to healthy eating during the semester:

  1. Plan Ahead: Plan your meals and go grocery shopping with a list of what you will need to prepare them. This will save you from buying things you won’t use and make you really analyze what you plan on eating ahead of time. It also helps prevent those last-minute vending machine fixes and fast food runs, which not only add on the pounds but add on to your spending as well.
    Bonus Tip! Keep a look out for coupons; what you may consider junk in your mailbox or email could end up saving you a lot of money. There are also rebate apps that offer cash-back options on simple purchases.
  2. Eat What’s in Season: Pay attention to the fruits and veggies that are in season and plan your meals using those items. They will usually be the lowest cost offering in the store for healthy choices.
  3. Have Fun, but Don’t Drink Your Calories: Let’s be realistic, a lot of us going through college or graduate school give our liver a workout. Light beers are the easiest way to save calories because they usually have the same alcohol content, but with fewer calories.
  4. Drink More Water: This is really simple, but you would be surprised at how much switching from soda to water can save. If you hit the vending machine for a soda three times a week at $1.25 a pop (or more), you will save almost $200 a year by cutting this trip out. Use a refillable water bottle and drink tap water or filter your own. Saving that extra money alone will pay for the books for at least one class.
  5. Use the Buddy System and Buy in Bulk: Buying in bulk can save you more money in the long run and help you be less wasteful when you’re sharing with a friend. If you live alone, partner with someone so you can split the items and the bill. If you have a roommate, get someone else in the house or apartment to join in. Buddying up with someone offers more incentive to stay on track with your budget and eating healthier.

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Photo credit: DGLimages

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  1. As a college student, this post caught my attention. I always have trouble maintaining a healthy diet while still using a typical college budget. It is tough to accomplish this goal for every college student. This post will really help when it comes to reaching this goal. I will definitely be using some of these tips in the future. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    -Sara

  2. As a current college student, this is super helpful! I’m always looking for new tips on how to stay healthy and eat well in college. It can definitely be a challenge with so much school work. Keep up the good work!

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