Avoid the “freshman fifteen”
It can take some time to adjust to being away from home for the first time, particularly when you realize that you are responsible for everything in a way you probably never were before – including all your meals. Most students are on a tight budget, so the tendency can be to find the cheapest food no matter how unhealthy it may be.
It’s fun to be able to eat chips for dinner and ice cream for breakfast without anyone stopping you, but unhealthy eating takes its toll on your waistline and on your physical health. In the short term, eating foods high in fat can impact your brain function, and skipping meals or eating a diet that’s too restrictive can affect your memory and concentration abilities.1
Your mom was right – food is fuel and you need to put the right stuff into your body if you want to get the most out of it.
Tips for eating well on a budget
- Make healthy eating a priority. Skip that $4 specialty coffee – and all the other little extras you might be splurging on regularly – and put that money towards your food budget instead. Treat yourself every now and then, but make sure to make healthy meals a priority.
- Plan your meals. Use the grocery store flyers as your guide. See what’s on sale each week and plan meals based on the sale items. If you have enough storage space, stock up on staple sale items that you use regularly. Check out sites like Student Recipes for inexpensive meal ideas, including options for vegetarians and quick meal ideas for when you’re short on time.
- Choose frozen. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious, but they are also generally a lot more expensive than their frozen counterparts. Luckily, frozen produce is every bit as nutritious as fresh, and it lasts a lot longer too.
- Buy in bulk. It’s almost always cheaper to buy larger quantities of things. Compare different sizes and you’ll see that larger sizes usually have a lower cost per unit. At first you may end up spending more than usual each shopping trip, but as you stock up on bulk items, your tally will eventually decrease since you’ll be buying those items much less frequently. You might also consider splitting bulk items with a friend so you can take advantage of the lower cost without having to spend the full amount.
- Label your leftovers. Obviously if you make more food than you can eat, you can store the leftovers in containers in the fridge or freezer. The trick is making sure to label those containers with the name of the item and the date it was made so you know what it is and how long it’s been hanging around. Food in labeled containers tends to get eaten far more often than the stuff languishing in mystery containers. This is a particularly important tip if you’re sharing a fridge with roommates.
- Eat plants. Meat can be very costly for students on a budget, so focus on healthy, protein-packed vegetarian meals that are filling and nutritious – and a lot cheaper! Check out Babble for 25 hearty vegetarian dinner recipes, and our article on eating vegetarian for more great recipe ideas.
Don’t forget that Foresters Financial™ is proud to contribute to the success that education can bring to individuals, families and communities. Each year, we offer 250 tuition scholarships up to $8,000 to eligible students pursuing post-secondary education at an accredited university, community college or trade program. Visit MyForesters.com for more information on eligibility and deadlines.
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