Throughout my time as a health and workout advocate, I have found that one reason people avoid eating healthy is, in part, due to the myth that healthy food is unavoidably expensive. And, in a way, it can be.
Taking a trip to Whole Foods may seem like an odyssey down Hollywood Boulevard, and even the prices found in the organic section at a local grocery market can be enough to deter one from having a healthy diet.
In college, there are other factors beyond the price that can be major hurdles to a healthy lifestyle. If one is on a meal plan, for instance, it can be difficult to stick to a specific way of eating when dining halls don’t regularly offer healthy options other than fruits, vegetables and a salad bar.
Whether you’re a student on campus who’s scraping together a marginally nutritious meal at the dining hall, or an off-campus student who’s just trying to pay rent, there are some tips and tricks to eating well in college.
The myth that all healthy food is expensive is simply that — a myth. If you go to the right store on the right day and buy the right food, you can be successful in buying healthy items on the cheap side. Eating well doesn’t have to be an ornate quest for obscure foods that a health guru on a podcast told you to buy. In my experience, going back to the basics and getting the essentials like apples, chicken, almonds and whatever greens you can shove in a bag for a dollar per pound will work perfectly.
If you’re limited to dining hall food, a healthy lifestyle can still apply. Having a plan and sticking to it is super important, but when you’re faced with limited options, I have found it best to be flexible in your plan. If my goal is to go to dinner and have some kind of protein and two sides of vegetables, that’s pretty doable. But, if you have a plan that is overparticular in exactly what kind of food you want, then disappointment is inevitable. Dining halls also provide nutrition labels for each meal, which can be helpful for people who are counting calories or macros, as well as give people solid boundaries for serving sizes.
Searching for coupons and price matching are great ways to save money when you’re on a budget. Even as a child growing up in a lower-class household, my mother remained an avid health advocate. No matter how fiscally difficult each month was, she checked the paper religiously for coupons, which allowed her to stock the fridge with healthy options for me and my brother.
If going through and checking the physical ads is too time-consuming, there are several apps that will find the best deals for you. Flipp and Instacart are both easy-to-use apps that collect coupons for you and reveal the best available prices for the area you reside in.
Local farmers’ markets also sell exceptionally priced produce from May through October. As a student who enjoys cooking and meal prepping, buying items in bulk and using a variety of vegetables makes for a healthier and cheaper menu for the week.
While eating healthy can be a difficult and complicated endeavor for some, finding healthy food options at a reasonable price is possible with the right resources and mindset. Eating healthy is a lifestyle choice that a person has to make on their own, but once the decision is made, there is a plethora of options available to make it cost-effective.