The eating diary of a college student:
Wake up ten minutes before class and grab a muffin or Pop-tart on the way out the door, or just skip breakfast entirely. Get out of class and ravenously eat the first thing in the pantry, which is typically pasta as a box costs less than a dollar. Attend more classes where the only easily portable snacks are prepacked and processed. Do some homework and then either finish off the night with a couple of beers and a midnight meal or stay up all night eating nothing for hours but coffee.
We’re busy and broke. We’re not going to come home after a long, hard day and cook a full meal when we have a pile of homework calling our names and only enough money to buy a carton of milk and box of ramen. The most convenient things to eat on-the-go or bring to class are sugar-loaded or nutrient-deprived foods. Eating on a consistent schedule gets put on the back burner as we get caught up with work and homework.
The painful truth is that eating healthy meals on a regular schedule is one of the best things we can do for our bodies and mind. Using some of the beer money for vegetables and whole grains would actually help with energy levels and attentiveness for homework.
The only way for me to eat healthy on-the-go or under stress is to prepare ahead of time. So let me introduce to you the three life rafts that keep me afloat and full when I get too busy: reusable containers, slow cookers and granola bars.
The thing that deters me from bringing food to class or work is that I don’t want anything that’s pre-packaged. 100 calorie packs are great for snacks, but with back-to-back classes, I want a real meal in between, and a salad and sandwich aren’t things you can easily toss into your bag.
With reusable containers though, you can bring anything. Make a salad and put the dressing in one of those oh-so-cute baby Tupperwares. Or be creative and make your own container out of anything with a lid, such as the containers and jars that hold fruit, deli meat and jelly.
I bring everything to class in Tupperware, from yogurt and granola to sushi. Make a snack the night before and grab it on your way out the door. During the break in class, whip it out and you have a real meal without any hassle.
Slow cooking is a habit I inherited from my mother. The scariness of that aside, crock pots can really be a college student’s best friend.
Wake up 30 minutes earlier, drop everything in the cooker, and turn it on low. When you come home from class, your house smells like someone’s been slaving over the stove all afternoon and your dinner is waiting for you, warm and ready. What could be better than that?
There are endless amounts of slow cooker recipes online or you can make your own because all you really need is sauce, vegetables and meat of your choice. Chop up all the ingredients the night before or whenever you have a minute to spare, store them in the fridge and then toss them all in the next morning.
Nutrition bars can be a life saver because they’re small, they don’t expire for a long time and they keep you full. I have a granola bar, protein bar or energy bar in just about every bag I own.
But don’t be fooled by the name; a lot of nutrition bars are packed with sugar and fat, which really just makes them candy bars. Like with everything, read the label. Look for bars that are full of whole grains, protein and fiber, but also low in sugar, like Kashi or Luna bars.
I always keep one with me because when I get hungry and I don’t have any cash, it’s a substantial snack to hold me over till my next meal.
Carve out 10 minutes of your morning or evening and give these tips a go. There’s nothing better than knowing you don’t have to worry about what to eat when your stomach is growling in class because your next meal is ready and waiting.