How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

By Alyssa Laffitte on September 25, 2018

While living a busy college student lifestyle, it can be difficult to eat healthy on a budget. There are so many convenient restaurants and vending machines that it’s easy to spend lots of money on unhealthy, quick food. But in this post, we will discuss easy ways to eat healthy on a college student budget, and while living a college student lifestyle.

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Create a meal plan

Planning your meals is a great way to ensure that you eat healthy and maintain your budget. It’s a good way to make sure you don’t spend your entire paycheck eating out, and to make sure that you’re eating nutritious meals and not easily accessible unhealthy food. When you know that you have food at home, you will be less tempted to go out to eat (and thus, spend money on something that is likely unhealthy). Your plan doesn’t have to be fancy, just write down the days of the week, and what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. Even an easy plan like that will be helpful.

Make a grocery list

After you plan your meals, you can make a grocery list to help you remember all the ingredients you will need to buy for your planned meals. Having a list will help you keep your spending in check, because you won’t spend money on food that’s not written in your plan. Also, a list will help you resist the urge to buy junk food. If it isn’t on your list, don’t buy it! Keeping a grocery list will keep your budget and your meal plan on track; you won’t overspend and you won’t buy unnecessary junk food.

Prep your meals in advance

As college students, we don’t have much time to cook on the weekdays, which is why we love going to a quick restaurant where we can simply grab something and go. However, “grab and go” foods often are not the healthiest or the most budget-friendly. For that reason, you should prepare your meals for the week in advance, when you have some time. If you prepare your healthy meals on the weekend, you can grab it and go when you’re busy during the week. Preparing your meals in advance has all the benefits of a “grab and go” restaurant without the high prices and calories.

Don’t eat out so often

I know this is much easier said than done, but if you would like to save money and eat healthier, do not eat out so often. Going out to eat is expensive and often unhealthy, so it’s best to limit the number of times you can eat out per week. By making your own food and eating out less, you have more control over your budget and over what you are putting into your body. As a college student, it’s impossible to not eat out, so you don’t have to completely stop, just limit yourself to only a couple of times per week. All in all, try to find a good balance between eating out and making your own food.

Skip Starbucks and make your own coffee at home

An easy way to save money is to cut down on your visits to Starbucks (or any other coffee shop). Yes, the drinks are good and it’s a fun atmosphere to study in, but the costs will add up quickly. Because of that, you should make your own coffee at home. It will save you money and will likely have less sugar than your typical coffee order. Again, you don’t have to completely eliminate your coffee shop trips, just limit yourself to only once or twice a week, or once every other week. By limiting your coffee shop trips, you save lots of money and cut down your sugar consumption.

If you have a meal plan, use it

College students often find their dining hall food gross, so they don’t take advantage of the meal plan they already paid for. This is an unwise financial decision because you have already paid for many meals. Instead of going out to eat somewhere else, take advantage of the dining hall and try to find something there that isn’t gross. Most dining halls have a salad bar, which is healthy and not gross; this would be a good option for your health and for your wallet. If you have already paid for a meal plan, try to eat at your dining hall every once in a while!

When you do eat out, drink water with your meal

Many people don’t realize how expensive drinks are, or how much sugar they contain! Even a simple fruit juice will set you back a few dollars, and you’ll be taking in many extra calories and grams of sugar. Alcoholic drinks are especially notorious for both being expensive and unhealthy. On the other hand, water is free, has no calories or sugar, and it will hydrate you. For that reason, when you do go out to eat, drink water with your meal; don’t buy any other drinks. If you drink water, your wallet and your body will thank you.

Although we are very busy and might not be loaded with money, we college students can still eat healthy and maintain our budgets.

22, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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