College Student Survival Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget

Let’s face it. Being healthy in college is pretty hard. We’re constantly in situations such as snacking on delivery pizza with our roommates late at night or gulping down sugary energy drinks to help us study. It’s difficult because these unhealthy foods and drinks are easily available to us and usually pretty cheap which complement our “broke college student” lifestyle.

Luckily, eating healthy on a budget is not as hard as you might think.

For the most part, people have a good idea what foods are healthy versus what aren’t. When choosing healthier foods to eat, it’s important not to make yourself miserable. I know spinach is healthy, but would I want to eat it everyday? Absolutely not. Eating should be enjoyable! Focus on what healthy foods you do like and eat those.

Making small changes in your diet can go a long way. Try having egg whites instead of the whole egg or choosing wheat bread instead of white. If there is something unhealthy you absolutely cannot give up then look for healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, go for some dark chocolate (which is better for your heart) instead. If you love potato chips then find the one lowest in fat and sodium and choose those. Baked chips, instead of cooked in oil, are also tasty alternatives.

If you like energy drinks, like I am guilty of, a great alternative is green tea. Green tea has almost as much caffeine as coffee and provides amazing health benefits. It’s also inexpensive. You can find green tea at any grocery store for about $5 a pack.

Photo credit: Janet Beasley
Photo credit: Janet Beasley

Farmers markets are a great way to find fresh locally grown fruits and veggies at a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, the Thursday Night Market we are probably most familiar with ends on Sept. 26.  However, there are some other options.  There is a year-round Chico Certified Farmers Market  from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the parking lot on Second and Wall streets.  There is another Chico Certified Farmers Market from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays in the North Valley Plaza Mall parking lot on Pillsbury Road (adjacent to Trader Joes).  This market goes until November 27.

Another great place to do your grocery shopping is at Chico Natural Foods.  The store is located at 818 Main St. and they pride themselves on supporting local farmers and offering organically grown produce.  The store has a special co-op membership program where for $25 a year, members have access to member only discounts and monthly specials.  Students who are on financial aid and sign up for the program will receive an extra 5 percent discount for any product they buy.

With these tips, it is possible to eat healthy while in college.  It just takes a little dedication and knowing where to look.