The week of August 10 is Healthy Back to School Week at DietsInReview.com.
Eli Sussman is a guest author for DietsInReview.com Healthy Back to School. As a recent graduate of Michigan State University, and co-author with brother Max of the college-friendly cookbook Freshman in the Kitchen, he knows a thing or two about navigating the food choices available to college students. Learn more about Eli and Max on their book’s site Freshman in the Kitchen.
In the four years I attended college, the dorm cafeteria evolved. What began with hamburger patties, chicken nuggets and a waffle maker morphed into stir fry stations, vegan options and take away counters. By fully utilizing the cafeteria and the dorm room to your advantage, you can save money and eat delicious, healthy meals. To avoid the bank and brain drain of sugary snacks and bland microwave meals you think are saving you time, here are a few tricks that may help out the budget and health conscious dorm occupant.
1) Tupperware to-go. Bring empty Tupperware in your backpack to the cafeteria to take fresh fruit, dry cereal, cut veggies and even deli meats to go. I can’t even imagine how much food gets thrown away every day and if you are paying for the meal card it’s definitely not stealing. It’s more a public service against waste right? By taking things to go it saved me time in the morning if I had to jet out and couldn’t make it to the caf. I had cereal, fruit and veggies for snacking and sandwiches to take on the walks to class. Fresh fruit and deli meats are a better option than Pop Tarts and Hot Pockets any day.
2) The Salad Station. You can make healthy meals by making this your go-to location in your dorm dining hall. If you are too lazy to put on clothes to head down to the caf or are heading to class and don’t want to buy a $5 muffin at the coffee express, make a salad and keep the dressing on the side so it doesn’t get soggy and stays longer. (If your caf doesn’t have a to-go option, see #1 above to create your own to-go option).
3) Make your own dorm room snacks. Trail mix, salsa, guacamole, bite size appetizers like a simple red pepper cream cheese dip for crackers can all be made easily in your dorm room. If you are having friends over to watch The Colbert Report or The Bachelor finale, it’s an inexpensive touch to whip up any of these for snacking. It won’t be lost on your friends that you didn’t just buy a bag of Doritos and a 2 liter.
4) Cook with friends. If you have a kitchen in your dorm, get together some friends, take the bus to the grocery store and split the costs. You get a delicious meal for less than the cost of going out and the satisfaction of cooking it yourself. Not to mention it’s the perfect time to discuss exchanging notes, term papers and test answers or to not discuss school at all. You might try this simple recipe from Freshman in the Kitchen – Sesame Peanut Noodles.