A College Girl's (simple) Guide to (affordable) Nutrition
Cue the tears. Cue the excitement. Cue the nerves.
It’s time for school to start again.
I really have no idea how we got back here already, but ready or not- it’s hereeeeeeee.
I say it like the intro from a scary movie (hope you read it like that too, if not re-read that line and come back to here... okay good) because it’s gotta be up there with one of the most- if not the most- busy time of year.
I'm mainly speaking to college and young adult's right now, because although if you’re in high school I’m sure you might feel a little busier now that you’re not sleeping in until 3pm everyday and going to the pool… but for those in college or transitioning to young adulthood… it's a new level of buzzaaayyy.
Moving in somewhere, whether that’s a dorm, house, apartment, or the library (you know who you are).
Clubs and activities.
Crazy work hours.
Whatever is taking up your time, for most of us, what we eat and how we are feeding our bodies does not make the priority list.
Not pointing any fingers because we all do it! It’s really hard to feed your body with nourishing foods when
1) Ballin’ on a serious budget
2) School cafeteria & the dorm might be your only option
3) Orrrrr you just don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to put any thought into your meals.
I GET IT.
I really do.
It’s not easy and when you finally try to stop and think about food- by that point, you’re usually so hungry that you want something super quick. And nothing says quick quite like Taco Bell am I right??
Well most of the time, we don’t have good and appealing things on hand at home to satisfy us, so going out just seems easier and honestly just better—but that’s usually because most of us don’t have the tools and experience with eating healthy to put together a good grocery list, meal ideas, and the right foods on hand.
I get A LOT of questions from other people my age, whether it be in college or single young adult, about how to shop and cook simply, cheaply, with health in mind. Sounds impossible, but it really isn’t!!
So as you transition into a new school routine, I want to make eating for health a no-brainer. To hopefully spark some ideas for healthier swaps and painless grocery lists, but in a financially- smart and realistic way! Let's get to it!
#1. Back to basics- Let’s talk about your plate!
Okay, so before I go and give a list of foods to buy or meal ideas to create- let’s talk about the basics. That way you can take things you’ve learned and make it your own, rather than just regurgitating a list. Your nutrition and food habits are your own, so copying what I do all the time will eventually get old and unmaintainable.
Anywhooooo. Macronutrients. Yes, the nutrition tri-fecta:
Psssssst: I did a post on macronutrients a while back if you want to read more on what these champs are!
In a short summary- fat, protein and carbs are three macronutrients. All macronutrients break down to provide energy, or calories. The term "macro" means large, meaning these nutrients are needed in large amounts. This is opposed to micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, which are equally important, but only needed in small amounts for health.
Well, the simple answer is that the best way to support your metabolism and satiation is to consume all three together, in balance. The three macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrates, are processed very differently in the body, and each support the body, brain and metabolism in their own unique way. Protein is a building block for many of muscle-mass and has the ability to increase our metabolism. Fat supports brain function keeps us full and acts as a buffer for carbohydrates by slowing down their assimilation into our blood stream. Carbohydrates give us quick energy because they have the greatest effect on raising blood sugar levels.
The best way to support metabolism, brain function, and feeling fully satisfied after a meal is by consuming all three macronutrients together.
Making sure you have these at every meal, is a great way to assure yourself that you are eating in a way that’s nourishing you and will keep you satisfied for an extended amount of time.
SO if you want these type of foods at your meals- what kind of foods should be looking to find at the store???
A balance of each, aiming to have whole, nutritious sources from each one!
#2. Let’s get some groceries!!!
Before you even get to the store though…. MAKE A LIST!!
Sure, you can use the list I made below, but like I said earlier- you’ll stick to it best when you personalize! So try pulling things from this list and seeing what works for you!
So from #1, we know that we need those macronutrients at meals- this list breaks down some ideas for each category that are cost-efficient and quick to make!!
#3. Let’s get cookin’ good lookin’!
From this list there are COUNTLESS of meal and snack options to choose from! Most importantly, easy to make and take on the go options!
If preparing meals and snacks is intimidating or you really just don’t know how to put certain meals together, here are some easy, quick recipes to use for the groceries I listed above!
- Turkey and Cheese Sandwich or Wrap w/ Hummus, Tomato, and Spinach
- Greek Yogurt w/ frozen berries and granola
- Cereal w/ milk and banana
- Over-night oats (Recipe below)
- Avocado toast w/ egg, spinach, and sliced tomato
- Tuna with whole grain crackers and hummus
- Chickpea and black beans salad w/ salsa
- Salsa chicken w/ steam veggies and rice
- Sliced apple or banana w/ almond or peanut butter
- Carrots or cucumbers w/ hummus
- Pretzels w/ peanut butter
- Granola bar + grapes
- Protein shake (protein powder, milk, frozen fruit, chia seeds and spinach in a blender)
- Tofu Rice Bowl w/ peppers, tomatoes, spinach, pasta sauce
- Trail mix + clementine
Overnight Oats Recipe:
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid such as dairy milk, almond, cashew or water
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup yogurt, optional
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds, optional but highly recommended
- 1/2 banana, mashed, optional
- Topping suggestions: fruit (fresh or frozen), nuts, nut butter, seeds, protein powder, granola
- Add the desired amounts of milk, oats, yogurt, chia seeds and banana to a jar or container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
- In the morning, add additional liquid if you'd like. Once you achieve the desired consistency, top with fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, protein powder, granola, or stevia.
Yes, I hope you enjoy each and every one of these foods and recipes because that is what food is suppose to be…. Enjoyable!! Also, by making healthier choices for yourself, you’re going to feel better and ultimately do better whether that’s job, school, or athletics! By making a point to live a healthier life not only are you helping yourself now, but your financially and physically setting yourself up to succeed!
So let this year be the year of good habits!
It’s never too early to start being the best version of yourself and that can start right here!
If you have any questions or looking for ideas for healthy meals- feel free to comment here or message me on Instagram- I’d love to hear from you!