Come Late August and Early September you know what that means, School is back in session. School is back in session and many individuals who are going to college (or living on their own) need to find a way to take care of their budget. Instead of living at home and having the luxury of home cooked meals or their parents paying for groceries. This article is mostly geared towards those moving out into their own place, moving to college, or those who need some tips on how to get the best bang for their nutrition buck, ie eating healthy in college.
Mac and Cheese FTW
Most people who do move out don’t get the luxury of higher quality cuts of meat, better dairy products, a variety of veggies and fruits and have to stick to the bar bones of bodybuilding and nutrition to get the job done. That is primarily what I am going to address in this article today and what you can do to help your budget and make sure you get the most optimal sources for your buck. Most individuals based off their goal will adjust their amount of money they will spend (those who are trying to gain will spend a bit more due to portion sizes, and those cutting or maintaining may not need as much). There is never an excuse for not having enough time to get in the calories or its too expensive, actually its really not. Eating out or buying fast food would actually end up costing more in the long run (unless your eating $1 cheeseburgers every single day which would not be optimal.
When I was away in college I did have the luxury of a very good dining hall and that really helped m budget for the cost it was to eat in there and the healthy options they did provide, but based off this article I will strictly go off living on your own and buying your own food to see how much it truly will be and why its cheaper to do it this way.
No pot to cook in
First and foremost before you buy groceries you are going to need appliances to cover what you will be cooking, so first and foremost we will need a microwave, a crock-pot, a rice cooker, and a George foreman style grill which will help you cover the essentials and cooking basic things to get you by and hit your calories. A microwave is simple its there to help re-heat all your meals or prep food such as oatmeal. Potatoes are also very good to cook in the microwave (Sweet and white) by putting a paper towel around them and nuking for around 5-8 minutes depending on the size of them .If you have a small mini-fridge then you can Tupperware excess potato and use it for a later meal or another day so that kills two birds with one stone.
What a crock
A crock pot can be very nice for cooking on a low heat and helping you slow cook those meats you buy for 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours depending on low, medium or high heat you will use and the time you have to process/cook the given meal/dish. This is so nice because if you have class all day and will not be around you can throw something in a slow cooker and it will be done later in the day when you do return back to your apartment. Chicken, Steak, Beef, tilapia etc are all good things to cook. The things you could add would be low calorie ketchup, bbq sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, fat free salad dressings and it will help season your final product with extra spices you may want to throw in there as well.
Dat nice rice
A rice cooker is self explanatory, a trick I would add is throw in a bouillon cube with your rice and water which will help flavor your rice without adding any calories and help prevent the rice from drying out when finished. I would also like to address spicing up your rice with things like black beans, salsa, hot sauce, butter spray, pesto sauce etc which will aid the texture and taste of the final product for those who cannot stand eating it plain.
The for-man Foreman
George Foreman grill, I don’t really need to go into detail on this one besides its your main source of cooking your meat (unless you want to slow cook everything). Burgers, chicken breasts, kabobs etc are all things you could utilize this grill for to help reach your protein intake and do all your necessary grilling.
No more excuses
Now lets go back to that so called “Excuse” of not being able to afford all this food or get in all these calories. That’s pretty funny because most people who live in college go off fast food, take out, or picking up stuff at convenience stores. Lets face it you grab a soda, a sandwich, and a bag of chips and you are almost spending 7-10$ alone right there for 3 small things. Now lets go back and think what I could do with that amount of money if I went bulk shopping such as buying almost 10 pounds of oatmeal for the same price. THINK ABOUT THAT! If you do some wise investing you will find that you could get almost 5 pounds of chicken for 10$ as well, that would last you quite a few meals and for a few days instead of in one little meal spent on a sandwich that will be loaded with preservatives and nasty meat and let alone very little protein and tons of fat/carbs from chips and processed foods.
When you do move into college make sure you take a look around, what stores do you have available, and where can you go grocery shopping. Sometimes you may get lucky and get a place like Sams Club or Costco where you can get a card access and be readily able to shop for bulk items and goods. If not you can always stock up at a local grocery store which will get the job done but will not be as cheap as a Sams/Cost-Co would be in the end. So what should we look for when we do go shopping or what items should we highlight to be at the top of our list?
Well lets get to it and I will always give you an estimate on how much this may cost you compared to eating out all the time and what you would spend.
- 10 pounds of bulk oatmeal – 8-10$
- Big bags of rice – 10-40$ depending on size and weight
- 5-10 pounds of potatoes – 3-5$
- 5-10 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes – 4-8$
- Frozen Fish/Chicken – 10-15$ (Fish more expensive)
- Big bags of frozen veggies – 4-6$
- Big bags of frozen fruit 5-8$
- Fresh Ground Chicken/Turkey – 10-14$ per 3-5 pounds
- 5 pounds of 90/10 beef – 15$
- 6oz Greek Yogurts – 80 cents each
- Liquid Egg Whites (Big Cartons) -4$ Each
- 12-18 Eggs – 1.50-2$
- 16oz jar of peanut butter – 2-3$
- Jar of Olive Oil – 8-10$
- Bag of Almonds/Nuts – 8-10$
Now depending on how diverse you truly want to get these are some good things you could invest in and use to hit your intake. Myself I love variety and I make sure to try an strive to get different sources of make sure I rotate my protein and carb sources often because I like to see what I respond best to and what digests best for my body (which will differ from person to person) some weeks ill swap out potatoes for rice or look into things like quinoa or couscous. Depending on how much you will buy or spend you could easily get away with spending 70-100$ per week (which will be MUCH cheaper than a cafeteria plan that has food mostly loaded with butters, oils, and also things that come frozen full of preservatives that are re-heated and served). If you make sure you are checking for coupons or other vouches for cheaper deals you may be able to knock down that total cost per week and save some extra cash for some bodybuilding supplements like Fish Oil, Creatine, Protein, and a multi-vitamin which would be essential to your micronutrients. That will be another article for another time.
Take some of the advice above if you are moving out on your own. You can make a living and hit your calories easily if you do bulk shopping, find coupons, and be wise with your money and accessories you do buy. Try to limit eating out and spending money on little things that may add up in the long run and you can really budget yourself to not breaking your bank while away from home.