How do I get a good diet on a college student income and few cooking capabilities?

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    Jul 15, 2011 12:22 AM GMT
    I hate eating unhealthy, however I found out recently (My first summer living on my own) that I really don't know how to make healthy food!

    I am a college student, and don't have much spare cash, so I've been trying to buy stuff that will last a while. Unfortunately, there aren't many inexpensive options of healthy foods! And even less that I know what to do with!

    At my cooking disposal at the moment, I have one 4 inch deep stovetop pan, and that is about it. A couple of disposable oven dishes as well, but other than that, absolutely nothing... Even the microwave in the house I am living at this summer is a piece of crap (the spinner in it was removed by someone, and it burns EVERYTHING unevenly, even freaking water).

    I have been living off of ramen noodles, mac and cheese, and frozen burritos with the occasional hot dog or chicken stirfry (the one meal I actually know how to cook)

    Does anyone know some good foods that I can buy on a college student income? Is tuna good? I am completely clueless, but am trying to get rid of the fast over my abs, and I know that diet is a huge part of that.

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    Jul 15, 2011 5:24 AM GMT
    tuna is good
    brown rice too
    you can put them together in your one pot along with whatever vegetable is in season. Experiment and you'll find that the vegetable should probably go in last because if it cooks as long as the rice it will be mush
  • austex85

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    Jul 15, 2011 5:28 AM GMT
    i know people will criticize me for saying this, but lean cuisine and healthy choice works for me. yeah, it has a shit ton of sodium, but just make sure you don't intake more sodium from other sources and you should be fine.

    note: for the past year, i've been eating some form of lean cuisine/healthy choice for lunch nearly every weekday
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    Jul 15, 2011 5:36 AM GMT
    You and I are in the same spot man. Here is what I do.

    Breakfast (every day):

    Pick up a blender ($20) at Target and get the following:
    Whey Protein (recommend Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard), old fashioned oats, milk and natty PB (optional). Blend all with varying amounts of what you want for the calories. Mine is this:
    2 cups oats
    20 oz milk
    2 scoops protein powder
    2 tbsp pb

    thats about ~1300 calories, just for breakfast, and provides about 44g of healthy fat, 156 carbs, and 107 grams of protein..

    the best is, that breakfast will last you about 1 month per purchase, and its easy and verrry healthy. awesome start to the day.

    as others have said, i rely on things like tuna, grilled chicken (grill lots on the weekends then eat during the week), broccoli ($1 per bag!), whole grain breads, and cottage cheese at night before bed.

    if you have a mealplan on campus like i did, take that money and use it towards groceries instead. if you have to have it, make sensible choices and choose high protein, lowered fat options.

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    Jul 15, 2011 5:43 AM GMT
    Trocks797 saidPick up a blender ($20) at Target

    Even less at the thrift store.
    All impoverished college students should know their way to at least 3 thrift stores.
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    Jul 15, 2011 5:44 AM GMT
    ~Sugar daddy.

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    Jul 15, 2011 5:52 AM GMT
    Since you're lacking many pots and pans i'd hit up the goodwill and get a couple. Or if you have an ikea by you they sell a wok for like 8 bucks which is great for stir fry.

    First I would say buy from the bulk section of your local natural food store or grocery store. Buy lots of brown rice, oatmeal, almonds etc. I'm vegetarian so these suggestions are not meat based but are cost effective and healthy. Buy fruits and veggies that are in season which will be cheaper. Also pick up frozen veggies which are healthier than canned (less salt) and can be found for cheap.

    Combine brown rice and black beans for complete proteins, make your own salsa with some tomatoes, cilantro, onion and lemon juice to put on top. You can get several meals for dollars.

    I steam a lot of veggies and add polenta for a quick stir fry several nights a week.

    You can make burritos (wheat tortilla, black beans, corn etc) and freeze them and eat them throughout the week.

    If you're my brother, you can live off of cereal for breakfast and canned tuna with a can of veggies for each meal.

    Cooking is great once you get the hang of it. Even if you just make a few quick dishes well.

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    Jul 15, 2011 6:17 AM GMT
    Ooh- I know some people who go to Concordia. :O /stalk

    All things aside- you can get wheat/ALA fortified pasta for very cheap (being that it's ya know- Fargo and all), where the wheat pasta goes for as low as a dollar (hell- in Mankato, I've seen ALA go for as low as $.99, so imagine wheat's prices) and it's higher in protein. However, if you're used to white pasta, then wheat's texture may be too weird for you, but ALA's won't. You can do a lot of things with that. Spaghetti, pasta salads, mac and cheese etc. (if you want I can teach you over the internet how to make a good batch of mac and cheese)

    Also- look for sales at either Walmart or Hornbacher's for sales on meat. Believe me- I've seen some pretty good sales at cub down here in the Twin Cities.

    Freeze your own veggies, or even pickle them. It's cheaper that way.
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    Jul 15, 2011 6:51 PM GMT
    Thanks for all of the great tips guys! Some of it will be kind of hard because my car is in MT until I get it fixed and out here, but I haven't had any problems walking to the store every week so far, so I don't see why I can't again! I'm not sure where any thrift stores are, but I'll start checking out garage sales. Maybe some people around my neighborhood are getting rid of their old cooking stuff. It is all going to get a LOT harder in two months, when I have to live in a dorm again, and deal with meals provided for me (I'm an ARA at my school, so I have to go through training). And then after than, with only having a microwave. I might invest in a rice cooker and a LOT of brown rice/tuna.

    I honestly don't like the flavor of tuna too much, but if I can learn to love yellow tail sushi after hating it, I can hopefully come around to tuna in a can.

    I know one thing for sure though, all of the difficulties that I am going to have eating healthy this upcoming year are definitely going to make my decision to move off campus and just cook for myself the next year!

    Thanks guys!!!

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    Jul 15, 2011 6:59 PM GMT
    Haha I understand your situation so much it hurts haha.

    What I started doing before I learned to cook. I would but like iceberg lettuce cause its less then 2$ and then I would get some pre cooked frozen fajita meat and make a salad out of it. You can cook the fajitas in a pan and spice it to your liking and just add it to the salad.

    My breakfast when I have time to make it is usually an omlete with 3-4 eggs I also buy large bags of frozen veggies which for me is like 2-3.50$ and add that to the omlete once they have thawed a little. After all that spice it with salt or pepper I really like putting paramsean on my omletes it sounds funky but deliciouse.

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    Jul 16, 2011 6:49 AM GMT
    I eat most of my meals in my college's main dining hall. There are usually good options (except during the weekend).

    Maybe try to get some chicken breasts and grill them and then refrigerate? Read up more online about how to grill and store them.
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    Jul 18, 2011 11:32 PM GMT
    I'm going to end up eating a lot in my dining hall, it is pretty much not a choice since I have to live in the dorms as an ARA and thus have no kitchen...
    We get a HUGE variety at my school, unfortunately, the head chef is from France, and we live in the middle of USA, right where butter, cream, and cheese are the main three ingredients in almost all of the DS food...

    Update on my "cooking" also: I went to the store and got a bunch of tuna. I like tuna salad as it turns out (thankfully) unfortunately, I'm not sure I can eat it as much as I had hoped. It is filling, but while I'm eating it, I just want to stop eating. I don't know why, it is like the tuna is just killing my appetite... Maybe cause it is new and I am not used to the texture or something. And I guess it is kind of a good thing if it kills my appetite!
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    Jul 18, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    my diet almost to a t.

    eggs [good for your pan ;) ]
    peanut butter and jelly with reduced fat peanut butter and whole wheat bread
    turkey burritos ( can buy 10 large tortillas and 2 pounds of oscar meyer turkey for about 9-10 bucks. last a week and half or more)
    protein powder (can buy gold standard whey 5lb for $45-50 and can last a real long time)
    non-fat milk
    32. oz low cal gatorades ($1 or less per)
    yoplait light (100 cals, fills you up real good and about 60c or less per)

    i also have some more expensive things like protein bars and the like but you can get the top list real cheap if you go for generic brands
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    Jul 19, 2011 12:00 AM GMT
    Fresh&Easy stores, cheap nutritious food.
    Also Cosco and Trader Joes. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 19, 2011 12:07 AM GMT
    Eggs and potatoes. Lots of 'em.