Not even true. A cupboard full of supplements, protein bars, or lean cuisine isn’t healthy either. If you “can’t afford to eat healthy” but you eat out often, you haven’t done the math correctly.
Here’s a list of foods that every college budget can handle.
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein, but don’t skip the yolks, as they are a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems. Eating three to six eggs a day is also good for muscles and fat-loss. Eggs are the best source of protein outside of red meat, at a fraction of the cost. Eat eggs scrambled, hard-boiled, fried, or as an omelet.
You can’t tell me that eating healthy isn’t cheap when you always seem to have a bottle of soda or Gatorade in your hand. Don’t bother with VitaminWater or SmartWater or any of those, either buy a case (24 bottles for about $2.50) or fill a water bottle at home. Also, if you have a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings, down a glass of water when you first wake up, it’ll help you wake up.
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of breakfasts (pro tip: add cinnamon and applesauce). Plus, I love to make stove-top peanut butter and chocolate oatmeal cookies.
I’m fond of apples because they’re fairly inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and delicious. They are a good source of pectin—a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol—and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy. Apples and bananas are my go-to when I wake up late and need to leave quickly. You could also eat applesauce, which tends to be even cheaper.
Nuts (and Peanuts)
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost. Also, peanut butter is a great snack- just grab a spoon and a glass of milk.
You can get bananas by the bunch for cents on the pound; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the week. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but beans like garbonzo are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils, kidney, the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form (bags of dry beans are less than a dollar for a pound or two); a can will still only run you around a buck. I like to make chili in massive quantities or eat black beans with rice and broccoli.
Broccoli and Carrots
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber; same with carrots. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, they’re low in both calories and cost. Look for either fresh broccoli or frozen and get baby carrots by the bag or whole carrots. Personally, I like broccoli raw or steamed. Broccoli and carrots are really the only vegetables I like, and I often put carrots in smaller zip lock bags for an easy snack.
This really only works if you share it because you’re not likely to kill a whole watermelon by yourself and it only makes sense if you buy a whole watermelon, but it’s delicious and full of vitamins. If you don’t have a huge knife to cut it up with, however, don’t bother.
Just like beans, rice is cents for a pound if you buy it in a bag and easy to make in large quantities. Rice is great to pair with vegetables and/or chicken, and you can get the faster-cooking rice in a box if you don’t like filling your fridge with Tupperware.
Milk isn’t quite as cheap as it once was, but per serving, it’s still cheap. Milk is rich in protein, vitamins A and D, potassium, and niacin, and is still one of the easiest ways to get bone-strengthening calcium (and tastes better than brussel sprouts). At Kroger, you can get a gallon of milk and a gallon of chocolate milk for less than $6. If milk bothers your stomach, consider an organic, soy, or lactose-free milk.
Coffee been accused of causing numerous conditions—heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis—but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is comes from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup, and low-calorie. When made at starbucks, it tends to run $8 a cup and not low-calorie. If you don’t like coffee, or you drink more than two cups of coffee a day, try drinking tea.
If you drink sodas, switch to Arizona Green Tea, which is sold by the gallon. If you like sweet tea, cut it out; you’re literally consuming spoonfuls of sugar in every glass.
Meats don’t have to be expensive. If you have a grill, get frozen burgers and frozen chicken (a $8 bag of frozen chicken or bubba burgers will last two weeks). If you have a stove, eat shrimp with pasta. If you like chili, get fresh ground beef, brown it in a pan, drain the fat, and toss it in a pot with beans, chili powder, oregano and tomato paste or diced tomato, and make enough that you can reheat it for dinner when you get home from a long day in the office or the classroom (I use 3 lbs of beef, 4 cans of beans, 3 cans of diced tomatoes, and whatever I have for spices, and eat it after working late). Sandwich meats are often reasonably priced (but skip the mayo). Fish is pricey everywhere, but I know my local Hmart has seafood for considerably less than elsewhere.
Brought to you by Ty