We are all going through a hard time when we pass by the frozen pizzas in the supermarket, aren’t we? I mean, no time needed for preparation, reasonable prices and then they can be quite tasty. But there’s this one little problem: They are massively unhealthy.
And while once in awhile it is certainly no problem to treat yourself with some pizza (after all it’s still pizza), on an everyday basis we should rather avoid the frozen foods aisle. But how can we manage to eat tasty and healthy regularly, without too much effort and on just a small budget?
Here are some ideas for students and the like-minded about which shelves you should pay a visit next time you are in the supermarket, how you can save time preparing healthy dishes and how you can manage the balance between a healthy lifestyle and a small wallet.
Students Live It Up but Live Unhealthy
Students are famous for tons of things. Sleeping in. Long party nights. Creative ideas. Being rebellious. Drinking over the limit. Irregular schedules. Political participation. Both positive and negative stereotypes are prevalent.
But one thing students are not famous for is a very healthy lifestyle. That in fact 46% of the freshmen miss nothing as much as their mommy’s cooking clearly shows that some students are a bit desperate in this regard.
Even more interesting are the facts that 59% of US-students may suffer from malnutrition , that the average British students gain over 10kg (!) in their first year of university , or the fact that the University of Oregon found that most students do not eat enough fruits and vegetables . This clearly underlines the fact that the eating habits of students are not precisely clean.
Whereas living it up in the college years should indeed be the priority, eating good food while doing so is not as complicated as many students may put it. You will obviously never beat mum’s delicious meals – but you can easily live healthier than you’re doing now.
Step 1: Realize Your Food Mistakes
Reasons for unhealthy nutrition are numerous. Stress, missing knowledge, laziness, lacking cooking skills. Even ‘food insecurity’, as Medical Daily calls it: no availability of healthy food due to high costs.
Many students unfortunately do not really realize that healthy food is not that complicated at all. To change this, the first step is to realize the mistakes you’re making. To start with, here are some of the main culinary mistakes you commit in your college years:
- Fast Food: McDonalds, KFC and Burger King are considered affordable and usually then end point after a long night out. While this is okay every now and then, students partying 3 times a week might want to try avoiding ending up with a Whopper every time.
- Packaged snacks: So handy but so heavy for your body. The only advantage of cookies, chips and all the other preserved packaged goods is their usually appealing (artificial) taste. On the long term, the negative aspects literally outweigh the taste.
- Frozen Meals: These are usually filled with hydrogenated oils and thus contain unhealthy trans fats.
- Soda: Many students tend to drink their calories with cheap alternatives of Coke, Fanta or Ice Teas. Both the originals and their copies just bear calories over calories and shouldn’t be consumed regularly. Diet sodas are usually not much healthier .
- Ketchup & Mayo: Since it’s cheap and easy, students like to put them on everything. Pasta, sandwiches, meat. Pure sodium-bombs that should not be on a regular meal plan. Go for self made condiments or hummus instead.
- Sugary Cereals: We all have some childhood connection to Kellogg’s. Colorful, tasty and easily prepared. And loads of sugar. If your crave for cereals every morning, you may think twice before going the sugary varieties. Try oatmeal or granola.
- Prepared sauces & dressings: Easy and cheap is what speaks for them. But they contain tons of chemical substances, sugars, salt, fat and few nutrients.
- Highly processed foods: If the product has a ton of ingredients, skip it! They usually are low in nutrition. Real food is the ingredient.
Step 2: Improve Your Food Habits
The second step to a healthier nutrition is to re-think the behavior. Here are some ideas what students should be aware of when considering their nutrition. Also, here are some hints how with just little money you can make a big difference health-wise.
- Don’t skip breakfast: Go with some granola, fruits and nuts, some healthy cereals. Eggs or yoghurt.
- Plan your meals: Saves your time and money. A great idea is to use the Virtuagym Nutrition App for doing that! Here are some ideas how to plan best .
- Cook for several days: Larger amounts of ingredients are not only cheaper when you cook in advance, you only have to heat up the food the next following days.
- Do not buy ready-made things: Hummus, tzatziki, salad dressing or pasta sauce really don’t take that long to make and is not only a lot healthier when you do it yourself, it also tastes a lot better. Some easy recipes can be found here .
- Check the local markets: You might think that the supermarkets are always cheaper but that is in fact not always the case. Local markets offer regional, fresh and healthy food that is not prepared or preserved.
- Grow your own: What most students do not think of often is that you can also easily grow some tasty ingredients at home.
- Don’t go for the very best, go for improvement: You can not suddenly change your whole meal plan. And actually you don’t even need to! But try to substitute the main unhealthy ingredients with some better options and you will already notice the improvement.
Step 3: Choose the Right Food
The third step is to provide yourself with the right food. There is no point in buying tons of healthy food if you do not like it. Try to come up with healthy and delicious food. Food you are looking forward to. You will notice that better food will give you a better feeling overall.
- Fly high: If you want meat, go with poultry. Chicken is usually the best option to stay within budget and rather healthy meat that is more or less healthy.
- Egg-cellent choices: Proteins, minerals, vitamins and fair prices! Also, easy to sneak in into so many dishes.
- Veggie delight: Cheap and full of nutritional benefits. If you don’t want to always buy them fresh, at least make sure to have a decent supply of frozen vegetables at home.
- Berry much appeeling: Berries, bananas, apples and co. are the best way to snack. Fruits are pretty decent tasting healthy snacks and you can not do much wrong with bingeing them all day.
- Nut so stupid: Not without reason trail mixes are called Studentenfutter (students’ feed) in German. Nuts are healthy and boost your brain energy. They constitute the best snack during your exam periods.
- Potato: There was no pun here because potatoes are too awesome already. The variety of things you can do with them is just too big, whilst they are fairly cheap and provide you with a lot of nutritional advantages.
- Rising stars: White rice is cheap, nutritious, good for your metabolism and not only Asians know to value it .
- Beaneath your beautiful: Same counts for beans, fair beauty supply.
- I got it from Granola: If you are a snacker, make sure you have a good supply of granola bars by hand so in case Will.I.Am is ever gonna ask you where you got that body from, you can tell him…
- Easy, cheap version of regular dishes: Here are some healthy dinner ideas for less than 3€ . Or some ideas from BBC Good Food on surviving as a student .
Eating healthy does not mean that it is going to be expensive or hard to prepare! Healthy food does not even take that much more effort. With some simple tricks you can easily go a lot healthier on an easy everyday basis, without burdening your wallet.
Healthy food will not only make you feel better throughout the day, you will also look better and provide a balance for all the other rather unhealthy habits of a proper student’s lifestyle. Eat healthy, play hard!