Eating in college poses a huge challenge. Healthy food boosts your energy level so that you perform your best in your classes and stay healthy at the same time. At the University of Florida, eating healthy almost compares to the difficulty of getting an A on a chemistry test—you have to work for it. Classes and activities keep students so busy that finding time to cook meals becomes virtually impossible.
Going from delicious home cooking to the harsh reality of trying to track down food can make eating healthy even harder. Price can also have a huge impact on whether a student can afford to eat both healthy and delicious. Unfortunately, the balance between eating healthy and maintaining a budget is very delicate to a college student. I called in the experts from various places in Gainesville to help shed light on this pressing issue: how to eat nutritious, mouthwatering foods that won’t break the bank.
Check out their advice on where and how to get the best bites for your budget:
1. Trader Joe’s Is the Busiest In Town and Here’s Why
Trader Joe’s is an excellent option for the average college student to get the most out of their money. Their meals measure up as the perfect size for one portion and possibly a lunch meal for the following day. They take very simple delicious meals and make them healthier and easy. Alex, a manager from Trader Joe’s, also said their frozen guilt-free mac and cheese ranks highest on his list of perfect center of the plate meal for your dorm.“It’s a lot healthier than regular mac and cheese so, it won’t worry your mom, waste your money or make you feel unhealthy,” Alex said. From Pinang Curry to Truffle Pizza, all you need is a microwave and you’re eating good tonight. You can toss the majority of their meals in the microwave, and many of their other products are refrigerator friendly and easy. When I asked Alex to give me his best recommendation on easy, yet tasty food for college students, he said that they carry a cold brew coffee that is super easy to keep in a dorm room. He said, “It’s quick and delicious, especially for tired college students.” Trader Joe’s carries everything from delicious spices to fresh vegetables for when you’re feeling adventurous enough to try out a recipe on the floor of your kitchen.
2. Publix Is The Timeless Go-To
If Publix reigns as your preferred place to shop, using coupons is the best way to get the most bang for your buck. The associate I spoke with explained the sales start on Thursday and end the following Wednesday. These sales, posted online, will help you look through deals while you make your shopping list for the week. Shopping for low fat, high protein meals will make you feel fuller and more energized. Frozen chicken breasts from Publix can be fast and healthy. Whipping together a starch, like rice, with these chicken breasts and a veggie is a perfect, well-rounded meal. Think in threes: Find three different dishes you can learn to make without even glancing at a recipe and rotate through them.
3. Get A Little Unconventional
Aside from shopping at tradition grocery stores and cooking food, new options for students living in the Gainesville area have risen. Shaina from Eat the 80, a Gainesville based food preparation company that provides delivery right to your door, said “Our meals are like a healthy TV dinner. They follow the 80-20 principle—80% healthy and 20% indulgent.” They prepare diverse meals from Steakhouse Burgers to Falafel. Their meals satisfy any taste or mood. Vale Food Company, a new installation to the Gainesville area with a similar plan to Eat the 80, except they also provide options for losing and maintaining weight, if your goal is to finally get off that freshmen 15. Weight loss plans contain grains, lean proteins and vegetables. To maintain, Vale serves healthy twists on favorite meals like mac and cheese and meatballs. Companies like these provide another affordable option for students that do not have enough time shop and cook but still look to make an investment in their health. Making an effort to eat healthy and regularly in college can be a struggle, but seizing the opportunity is rewarding for the busy mind and the happy body.