Buying in Bulk Stretches a College Food Budget with Healthy Options

By Candice Spector
For Unwind magazine

The college student budget is the most notorious of its kind for its sheer inability to sustain overworked, under-rested, ravenous, stress-eating students.

Whether your source of funds is your minimum-wage job at a Chinese restaurant or from your parents, the college budget often seems to fall short of sufficient when it comes to our desire to eat fresh, healthy foods. However, the good news is that eating healthy in college isn’t as infeasible as you may think.

Junior communications major Lila Zimmerman is the mastermind behind the popular @FreshFitandFearless Instagram page, where she promotes a vegan and plant-based diet. She insists that some of the healthiest foods are actually the least expensive.

“Some of my staples are brown rice, quinoa, oats, beans, potatoes and bananas,” Zimmerman said. “And these are the cheapest foods in the world.”

Not only are these foods cheap, but they are also long-lasting – specifically rice, quinoa, oats, and beans, which have respective shelf lives of anywhere between six months to three years, so you can buy them in bulk.

The FreshFitandFearless expert also suggested buying frozen fruits and vegetables because “they won’t go bad,” and, contrary to popular belief, they have “just as much nutrition [as fresh produce] because they’re frozen at peak ripeness.”

But if you’re not ready to go full vegan yet, there are plenty of ways to incorporate lean meats like chicken into your diet without breaking the bank.

Chicken is relatively cheap at around $3 per pound and, if frozen, it can last up to nine months. So if you buy it in bulk, you’ll have guaranteed substantial meals throughout the semester and minimize your trips to the grocery store.

Amanda Whiting, a senior cell biology and molecular genetics and public health science major, said she agrees with Zimmerman that freezing produce is a great way to save money and get the most out of your fresh purchases.

“I go shopping about once every two weeks. I try to buy only what I know I’ll eat,” Whiting said. “That way I don’t waste money by allowing anything to spoil.”

Whiting, who also runs a health and fitness blog, said she spends about $60-80 during a trip to the grocery store, which is only about $160 for an entire month of healthy eating.

On her blog, The Fit Bean Blog, Whiting details how she became health conscious and gives her readers tips on how to “meal prep,” which means cooking a week’s worth of food and then packaging it into individual meals to refrigerate and eat later.

Meal prepping is a great way to make sure you’re eating well, but it’s also an effective way to budget both time and money, which are usually equally as limited if you’re a college student.

So, on your next trip to the grocery store, steer clear of the Ramen Noodle aisle. You don’t need them! We promise.

Treat your health as an investment and fuel your mind and body with natural, whole foods, and you will be much richer in all aspects of life.

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