You finally made it out of dorm life and scored the cutest townhouse with your best friends. Not only have you escaped the claustrophobic dorm rooms, but you also never have to deal with the dining hall ever again. No more RA's, no more quiet hour, life is good! One problem. Your cabinets are bare and you don't have your parents filling them with all the right foods every week.
That is one of the most common concerns of students who transition from dorm to off campus living - having the responsibility of grocery shopping and planning meals for yourself since you've always had the dining hall to turn to. You also want to stay healthy and eat regularly without blowing all of your money away. This might seem unrealistic for a college student, but we are here to reassure you that ramen noodles does not have to be your only option for the rest of your college career. We are going to share with you our top tips on how to master the art of grocery shopping and meal prepping as a college student on a budget. Yes, you read that right! It's possible!
It's all about the list!
Your success at the grocery store is determined by your grocery list. I know it's a burden when you probably have a millions other things to be doing, but it will save you down the road. The grocery store can be surprisingly overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. Like I said before, you're probably busy and you don't want to waste your time walking aimlessly around the aisles, unsure of what to buy. You know what they say, "never go to the grocery store hungry." Just the same as going without a plan!
- Hang your list on the fridge or a wall so that you and your roomies can constantly be adding to it. Make it fun and decorative using a chalkboard or whiteboard.
There are endless varieties of food and you're likely to get distracted by discounted wine, but don't let it happen. Planning your meals and grocery lists ahead of time helps narrow the trip to specific targets, rather than a free for all, and will avoid wasted food and time.
To figure out nutritious meals, you’ll want to follow the MyPlate diagram:
This diagram demonstrates what a balanced meal looks like and will help you meet your nutritional needs. Using this model as a template, start to fill in the spots with your favorite foods. For example, you could have spaghetti with broccoli, chicken, cheese, and tomato sauce with a cup of milk. To get more ideas, just search online for simple nutritious meals or use Pinterest. There, you can make a whole recipe board so you have an easy place to draw ideas from.
Once you’ve decided your meals for the week (including leftovers from larger meals). Sit down and figure out what ingredients you need, and what items you already have. Now you have a grocery list, which will act as a map to guide you in and out of the store in no time. Now that you have the tools, go get your shop on! Need help navigating the grocery store? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog!
**Original post written by Tracey Munson, Dietetic Intern. Revisions by Courtney Cayer, Dietetic Student and Social Media & Blog Manager for NourishRX.