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Eat better with these easy tips for college student-ready meals

If you're sick of takeout and the dining hall, have no fear: Eating healthy at home as a college student isn't as hard as you think.  – Photo by Ello / Unsplash

The decrepit state of campus house kitchens can make DoorDash and UberEats seem like a godsend, but not only is takeout expensive — especially with all of the extra fees — but it's also not the healthiest.

Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and living a college student lifestyle in general, it's important to put some nutrients into our bodies right now. Healthy eating in college can seem expensive and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips and save money while boosting your immune system at the same time!

Eat some grilled chicken

At the beginning of every week, I make a batch of grilled chicken that is fresh and delicious, which lasts me up to five days.

I know buying raw chicken at the grocery store seems like something only our moms do, but it's generally inexpensive and super easy to season and cook. A hack I recently learned is that you can marinate chicken in almost any salad dressing: Simply place raw chicken breasts into a plastic bag and generously coat with your favorite salad dressing — mine is Greek vinaigrette.

The next day, the chicken will be fully marinated. Simply throw it into a frying pan with some olive oil and boom! You have your very own delicious protein source for the week, making you completely forget about your favorite $20 DoorDashed salad.

I usually throw my chicken into any salad, wrap or eat it with rice and veggies. 

Meal prep your veggies

Something else I do at the beginning of every week is cook a ton of vegetables to have to last me for the rest of the week — and it's such an efficient way to get in your veggies for the day!

I typically buy bags of frozen veggies from Trader Joe's (my safe haven), which range from $2 to $4. I drizzle some olive oil onto a pan and throw in the vegetables with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and other seasonings.

I let it cook completely and put it in Tupperware to be readily available in the fridge. I recommend cooking frozen broccoli as it is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium as well as having more protein than other vegetables. I typically eat this with pasta or chicken or throw it into my salads.

Bulk up your meals with potatoes

I know potatoes are already such a staple in so many people’s diets, but I never knew how easy they were to handle as a college student — and not to mention so cheap.

All you need to do is take your potato or sweet potato, rinse it off with water, poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave it until it's cooked through. Most microwaves even have a baked potato button to make matters even easier.

I love eating my potatoes with melted cheese, sour cream and salsa or throwing my sweet potatoes into salads or eating them with chicken and vegetables. Both potatoes and sweet potatoes are packed in nutrients and are a great way to bulk up a meal. 

Buy Trader Joe’s frozen meals

While I’m sure everyone and their mom is aware of the amazing frozen meal selection at Trader Joe’s, I still feel the need to reiterate just how amazing it is. Trader Joe’s has an excellent assortment of healthy frozen foods with unbeatable prices.

My favorite options are the vegetable pad thai, sweet potato gnocchi, mandarin orange chicken and riced cauliflower stir fry. There truly is something for everyone, and not only are these meals incredibly inexpensive but they are also so easy to make. It’s foolproof for college students and much better than ordering expensive takeout.

Whether you want to spend time meal prepping or just want to pop something in the microwave, there are ways to efficiently and inexpensively eat healthy as a college student — you just have to find them.

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