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Friday’s flavor: Eating healthy on a budget

Can college students eat healthy with their hectic schedules and tight budgets? Yes! Follow these quick and easy tips.

First find out how much money you have to buy food each week.

Estimate how much you eat each week – you might need to adjust your caloric intake.

Once you have budgeted your money for food, you need to learn to plan ahead with smart buying habits. Planning ahead and cooking at home often leads to more nutritious meals with more fruits and vegetables.

When you go to the store, buy seasonal vegetables and fruits. Right now broccoli, carrots, clementines, oranges, kiwi, cauliflower, celery, bananas, pears and avocadoes are in season.

Also, take advantage of specials on non-perishable items like whole-grain cereals, rice and other staples.

A healthy breakfast should start out your day. For example, grab some cut-up fruit, a hard-boiled egg and a bowl of whole grain cereal to get the protein and fiber you need to start your day off fresh.

If you are not much of a breakfast person, at least eat a granola bar on the way to class and maybe eat an apple an hour or two later. Just stay away from the sugary cereals and pastries that will leave you hungry and tired in a couple of hours.

What should you do between classes? Pack healthy on-the-go food to munch on while walking to your next class.

You can easily snack on assorted nuts, fruit, raisins, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches and even fresh veggies like carrots and broccoli. Whole grain granola bars that are low in fat and sugars can help ward off hunger, too.

For lunch and other snacks, consider the following foods – low-fat cottage cheese, apple sauce, rice, orange juice, wheat bread, jelly, peanut butter, whole wheat or multi-grain pasta, canned tuna and oatmeal.

Oh, and Ramen Noodles. Instead of using the seasoning packet (which has a lot of sodium) try mixing in some sliced tomatoes, frozen vegetables, Parmesan cheese, or lean meat.

Eating quick, small meals throughout the day may be easier with your schedule and it actually may be better for you and keep you more alert.

For dinner, you can go home and pop that chicken or fish, which you bought on sale at the store, in the microwave. While that’s heating up, cut up some of those veggies you just bought and toss a piece of bread in the toaster.

Your dinner is ready in less than five or 10 minutes, the same amount of time it would have taken you to grab a fast-food dinner.

During your college years, eating healthy is important. The eating habits you are forming now will influence how you eat for the rest of your life.

Budget your time and money wisely and invest in a healthier you. Your body will thank you for it!

Friday’s flavor is edited for accuracy by Jeanette Davidson, a registered dietician.

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