Are you not broke…but COLLEGE BROKE? Does it seem impossible to find food?? Are you a student with no meal plan and think you MUST resort to noodles and fast food everyday to get by? If you said yes to any of these questions, what if I told you there is a super easy, cheap, AND healthy meal plan that is perfect for you?? Keep reading to find out how to completely change your lifestyle and keep the money in your wallet!
OPERATION EAT HEALTHY AND SAVE MONEY FOR THE BROKE COLLEGE STUDENT IS COMMENCED!
To give you an overview of my current situation, I have been an off campus commuter student with no meal plan for 2 years! I definitely understand the struggle of being a broke college student. But, I have been eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten in my life! I used to eat nothing but fried food, fast food, and sodas…EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!! But, in the past year, I have cut pork, beef, soda, juice, fried food and fast food from my diet. I made this decision based on the research I did on the food I ate and I was tired of being tired. I went cold turkey on all the bad stuff for a whole month and never went back! Since then, my body has been feeling AMAZING! I don’t get headaches, my immune system is 20x healthier, I’ve lost a lot of body fat, more energy, better skin, and an overall more positive mood!!! Figure out what it is about your body that you want to change/improve and keep reading!!
So what is the purpose of this article??
“Eating healthy is hard,” “Eating healthy is expensive,” “I have to know how to cook to eat healthy,” “Eating healthy isn’t really that important” are just a few of the most common statements I hear referring to healthy eating and whew they are WRONG WRONG WRONG/EXCUSES EXCUSES EXCUSES!! In this blog, I will bust all of these myths/excuses down so you can actually know the TRUTH behind healthy eating. I will encourage you to follow the tips given, but I will not get too scientific!
1. Healthy eating is NOT difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, to the average lazy American that only eats fast food and buys pre-made frozen dinners out of Walmart, eating healthy may be a little difficult…but guess what?? I USED TO BE THAT PERSON! All I had was a plan/ meal plan, goal, motivation, and the proper guidance (the internet) and it was all a breeze. I will be your guiding arm so GET MOTIVATED, set your goal, and lets make a plan to fix your eating habits! I know you want to. Besides, all the healthy food in the grocery store is right next to each other and the internet is NOT hard to use!
2. Healthy eating is not outrageously expensive!!
Truth is…it’s actually cheaper than eating fast food and junk food.
I save more money on food now than I ever have because of my eating habits. I went from spending $4 on breakfast, $3 for snacks, $7 for lunch, $10 for dinner EACH DAY (that’s nearly $30/day on food) to spending barely $35/week. The key to saving your money is buying smart and meal prepping for each week!
The “quick and cheap” food/junk food we eat from the grocery store or from a fast food restaurant is basically designed to make us eat more. Think about it: you go to McDonald’s to buy a big mac and less than an hour later you want more food. Why? The food has specific ingredients (and calories) in it that trick your brain into thinking you’re full when you’ve actually received no nutrients so your body is still hungry. (Source: www.jamesclear.com/junk-food-science). In order for them to produce this food as quickly and sell is as cheaply as they do, they HAVE to use chemicals, preservatives, artificial growth hormones, etc. to produce more and sell faster.
I said all that to say: you end up having to buy more cheap food (and eat larger portions) to keep your body fulfilled when you should actually buy a lot less, eat smaller portions and ACTUALLY be full. It’s sort of like an investment. Invest in healthier food for a better outcome.
When you eat healthy and meal prep (even if that is just writing down your daily meals or cooking them a week in advance) you will have more control over your appetite, will avoid over-eating or under-eating and won’t waste money on extra food.
3. You do NOT have to be a chef to eat healthy!
Y’all please believe me when I say…I can’t cook worth nothing! LOL! I do know how to follow directions though. It’s actually not difficult at all. I come from a family of non-cooks so I had to branch out on my own and watch TV, FaceBook, and read recipes to make my own food!
Making your own food is important because you know exactly what you are eating. You don’t have to pay for the “cooking and service fees” at a restaurant if you know what I mean. We all know you can go to the grocery store and buy a 2-pound pack of wild-caught salmon for $9. It can costs $20 for one salmon fillet at a restaurant where you don’t know the cleanliness or the ingredients in the food.
Also, it’s not very easy (or cheap) to find healthy food already prepared unless you’re lucky enough to live in a city where there are food stops that do. I’m in Louisiana so there is nothing but fried, cajun and smothered food here! Lol!
4. Healthy eating is VERY important!
For obvious reasons. You should never mistreat your temple (the body). The quickest way to is by not caring what you put in it. Our bodies are like plants…you get out whatever you put in. If you care for your plants with good water and soil, they grow and flourish. So feed your body the proper food/nutrients so you can grow and flourish as well! Remember, the healthier you eat, the healthier your HAIR, SKIN, AND NAILS will be!
Now that I’ve cleared these myths…what about this $60 weekly grocery list/meal prep?
There are plenty of pre-made grocery lists online that will be very useful! Here are links to a few of them:
Here’s a brief overview of my own. Prices, prepping, and how long it lasts me is also included.
Firstly: To regulate your metabolism (controls your weight), you should eat 5 times/day. This means you must have proper servings/portions!! Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner! Here’s an excerpt from YesYouCanDietPlan!
“Another good reason why you should eat five times a day is because of the amount of calories burned with digestion and the metabolism of food every time we eat. What does it mean? It means you accelerate your metabolism, so you can continue on burning calories even while you are resting. You get to control your appetite and avoid overeating when you get home for dinner. If you eat five meals a day, you will have enough energy, so you will feel better throughout the day.”
Breakfast: I give myself only 15 minutes to make myself breakfast every morning! I’ll alternate between eggs/bread, eggs/grits and oatmeal/fruit daily. ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST!!!
100% Egg Whites ($5.49..lasts a week-a week and a half if eaten daily)
Old-Fashioned Oats (2lbs: $3.89..lasts about least two weeks if eaten daily)
Old-Fashioned Grits (1.5 lbs: $3.59..lasts max two weeks if eaten daily)
100% Whole Wheat Bread ($4/loaf lasts at least a week and a half if used once a day for breakfast or lunch)
Silk Almond Milk Light or Unsweetened: Original flavor ($3.49/32 oz..lasts about two weeks)
Lunch: It’s bad…but I pretty much eat the same thing everyday. I grew up this way. Once I learn how to really cook…I will switch it up a bit! But until then, this is what I have to work with. I always meal prep my lunch, snacks, and dinner. This means I buy in bulk (which is cheaper), cook it ahead of time and store it in tupperware for a quick grab-n-go!
Organic Chicken Breast ($2.69/lb for a week)
Organic Spinach ($3-4 for about 3-4 salads)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (used for baking and salad dressing $10 for at minimum one month)
Shredded Cheese ($4..I only buy about once/twice a month)
Dinner: This is just a sample of what one of my weekly dinners would consist of. All of the foods are usually baked simultaneously to save time.
Family Pack of Farm-free Wings (16-20 wings: $9-$12…2-3 wings for lunch/day for a week)
Asparagus or broccoli ($2-3/lb for a week)
Sweet Potatoes (.70-.90/lb: 1 lb lasts about a week)
Fruits: I use fruit for my snacks, breakfast and/or lunch. This is about the only thing that varies each week. I will also meal prep my snacks by cutting up a variety of fruit and sectioning it in lunch bags to carry with me between my meals. I may grab a bag to eat during my breakfast or my lunch if I want. If I’m in the mood or if the fruit starts to get old I’ll freeze it make myself a fruit smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
Bananas ($1.59/lb.. lasts a week)
Kiwi (approx. $5/8 kiwis..lasts a week)
Org. Strawberries ($4..lasts a week)
Whole Pineapple ($3.44..lasts a little over a week)
WATER: Water is the ONLY drink I buy!!! I get a 24-pack of water for $2-3 every week!!! That is the only money I spend on drinks per week.
Imagine how much cheaper your grocery list would be if you didn’t have to buy 2 gallons of juice, soda, or tea every week. You get all the nutrients you need from water and the other food you have!
This totals up to about $63-$66! That is including the things I don’t have to buy every week.
You’re probably wondering, where are the junk food/snacks/ etc.? There isn’t a need for it! That’s extra money for no reason. You don’t need butter. You don’t need sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, look up some recipes for sweet smoothies, fruit desserts, etc. My personal favorite is sautéed honey cinnamon bananas! The internet is here to help us guys! Utilize it!
To conclude the article…I will provide some very helpful tips to keep your eating habits on track for the rest of your life!
1. Stay away from lunch meat! I know it is tempting because it is quick and easy, but remember what I said about processed/junk/fast-food! Just buy the real thing and avoid yourself the headache (literally).
2. Don’t go to the grocery store while you’re hungry. I promise you will end up buying a crap-ton more stuff than you usually would. Eat a quick snack/meal before you go!
3. Be sure to have your meals and grocery list written down! Once again, this will save you money, time, and will keep your eating schedule regulated.
4. DONT GIVE UP! If your weekly plan is not working then keep switching it up until you find what works for you. Don’t just get frustrated because your first meal prep or your first trip to the grocery store with your new healthy list was a disaster.
5. Remember: Maintaining/gaining/losing weight is depicted by your eating habits! You can work out all you want to, but if your eating habits aren’t what they should be then you will not see the results you want. Take the initiative and search for a meal plan that suits your goals.
6. Step out of your comfort zone! You may run across some foods you don’t like or have never tried. You have to broaden your horizon of foods and eat some things you wouldn’t have expected to eat.
7. STOP EATING FOR PLEASURE/TASTE! You have to understand that food is here to keep us alive and healthy rather than to satisfy your 10,000 taste buds for a few seconds. That is how we (Americans) get caught up in the highest rates of obesity, HBP, heart disease, diabetes, etc. We have been trained to eat what’s quick, “cheap”, and tasty.
8. Use the internet! The internet will be your best friend along this journey. You will definitely have some road blocks and confusion along the way but you are NOT the only one!
9. Make food one of your number one expenditures!! Even if you are on a fixed budget, be sure the first thing you plan to do with your money is buy food. That is how you see people gaining the infamous “freshman 15” or going whole days without eating. They don’t know how to prioritize. If you know you only have $15 to eat that week, buy some pasta and make that your daily meal until you get more money. Pasta is one of the cheapest, quickest, meals you can make… and it has some pretty good nutritional value.
10. Shop around the outer corners of a grocery store! Most of the food on the outskirts of the grocery store (fruit, dairy, water, meats, fish, etc.) are the healthier options. You will avoid a lot of snacks, junk food, ice cream, etc. by focusing your attention away from those areas. If you have to get something from the inner area, be sure to know which aisle it is on. Don’t accidentally travel down the cookie aisle if you’re looking for pasta noodles. That is a SET UP!
11. PRACTICE SELF-CONTROL!!! This is the only way you will make yourself better. You have to know what’s right and live by it. Fried chicken is so tempting…honey buns look so good…NO! Snap yourself out of it and fantasize about how good fresh strawberries are, or how wonderful cool water makes you feel on a hot day. That is the key to success! Self-control and self-motivation.
12. Search for discounts! Stores always have a sale on something! If you could find a coupon book, discount codes, sign up for a CVS/Walgreens card, etc. that could save you a lot of money and even decide on your healthy meal for that week. Check your weekly newspapers, ask neighbors, sign up for alerts…DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO SAVE THAT MONEY!
13. Always be mindful of your portions. That plays a huge role in regulating your metabolism. You will be shocked at how much food you should be eating vs how much more you actually eat!!
14. Never leave the house without food or a plan to get food!! Never! This is where meal prepping comes in at. Doesn’t take very long either. 15. Eat until you aren’t hungry anymore. NOT until you’re full! A lot of people don’t know that it is not good for the body to eat until past your hunger craving.
16. Change the ingredients you use to cook. Instead of butter, use olive oil or coconut oil. Instead of salad dressing, opt for olive oil or MAYBE even vinaigrette. Instead of covering your pancakes in syrup, use honey. Instead of using white sugar, use brown sugar. Instead of salt, used a salty herb. Go for low fat, light, low calorie, low sugar, etc. food products! It’s the small substitutions like that that can really make a difference!
17. If you have some sort of meal plan, UTILIZE IT!! I hate to see people that have the luxury of a meal plan and choose not to ever use it because the food is “nasty” or “undesirable.” As high as those meal plans are, I will use every PENNY and every swipe I am allotted! Even if you are just getting fruit, salad, a drink, whatever! Don’t neglect your meal plan! There are others (like me) that would be very grateful to have one!!
P.S.: Yes it is okay to treat yourself to a cheat day! Just don’t pig out without knowing you have to reap the consequences!
Thank you all for reading! I hope this was helpful to you! I truly do hope you take at least one thing from this and decide to change your eating habits for the better! I care about your body and you should too!!
Here are a few other articles to further convince/assist/help you!
Love you all!