One of the best things that any college student can do is to be prepared. This applies to classes and exams just as much as it applies to living a healthy lifestyle! Making sure that your dorm room is stocked with all the right snacks is a perfect way to set yourself up for success. So, I’ve put together a healthy college grocery list to help make sure you have everything you’ll need.
Why Do College Students Not Eat Healthy?
There are two very common reasons that college students don’t eat healthy: a lack of correct nutritional knowledge and a lack of the proper resources. On a wide scale, most people do not know the depths of what a well-balanced diet really looks like or can do for them. Especially at the university level, many students are having to figure out how to fend for themselves for the first time. This makes it easier to fall into poor eating choices and habits that are tough to break.
On top of this, most college students are working with a tight budget and healthy foods have a reputation for being a bit more pricey. For some, dorm rooms don’t come equipped with the appliances to support a healthy lifestyle. Time also plays a big role in unhealthy eating as well. Constantly being on the go, with assignments left and right, there just doesn’t seem to be time to kill thinking about what to eat. This is why it is good to start the year or semester fully prepared.
Good Grocery List For College Students
Going shopping with a clear list is key to making healthy and inexpensive food choices.
- Fresh Fruit
Here are some great things to fill up your cart for a good grocery list for college students:
1. Fresh Fruits
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables! A fun fact that I’ve learned is that the colors of many fruits and veggies represent the specific health benefits that each one has! From helping your skin and bones to reducing the risk of heart disease, these foods support our health in tremendous ways.
Fruits to look for:
You can buy your vegetables fresh, frozen, or canned. Plus, most veggies can be cooked in the microwave or paired with a dip like hummus for a snack. Mixing vegetables in with eggs for an omelet or throwing together a salad are just a couple ways that you can work them into your diet.
Vegetables to look for:
- Lettuce (or a salad mix)
Dairy products are a great source of calcium, Vitamin D, and other nutrients. Making sure to include some in your grocery list will help to ensure your diet is well-balanced. However, just be sure to check the date on the products to give yourself enough time to use them before they expire.
Dairy to look for:
- Milk ( or other alternatives such as almond or oat milk)
- Cheese (sticks, sliced, or shredded)
- Cream Cheese
There are a wide variety of foods that contain protein. Keeping your dorm well stocked with these foods will help to strengthen your immune system and also has many fitness benefits. Some studies also show that protein helps to curb your appetite making it easier to fight the temptation to go on a late-night junk food binge.
Protein to look for:
One last piece of the food pyramid puzzle is making sure to get enough grains and carbs. Whole grains have been known to supply your body with B vitamins and other nutrients like fiber and minerals such as iron and zinc.
Grains to look for:
- Whole grain bread
- Breakfast cereal
Healthy College Snacks
Let’s be honest. We all love to snack! But, with snacks, it’s very easy to overdo it with processed, high-calorie junk foods. Keeping a healthy snack close at hand is a quick and easy way to get the nutrients and fuel that your body needs in between meals. Some of the best healthy snack food options that I’ve found are:
- Trail mix or mixed nuts
- Protein or granola bars
- Hummus and vegetables such as carrots, sweet peppers or celery
- Dried fruit
- Dark Chocolate
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Nut butter on rice cakes, crackers, or fruit such as banana or apple slices
- Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
This list is a great start to figuring out which healthy snack food options work best for you and your needs. Even so, I encourage you to build off of these choices. Get creative! As long as you make sure to hit all of major food groups at some point during the day, you can add to or take away from the foods listed here as you see fit.
Healthy College Meals
Now that you have an idea of what to put on your grocery list, here are a few healthy college meals that you can make in your dorm!
Overnight Oats – This is a great recipe if you don’t have access to a microwave or have to wake up early for class. All you need is plain oats, milk (or dairy-free milk), and some toppings like fruit, nuts, or spices! Many recipes call equal parts milk and oats, and allow you to be creative with the rest. Try out different combinations with nut butters, chia seeds, Greek yogurt and vanilla extract!
Salad Wraps – With your favorite salad fixings and a whole wheat wrap, you can make these for lunch in your dorm or take them to-go. For a Caesar salad wrap, just toss lettuce, cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing and any other ingredients you’d like. Greek wraps are also healthy options that just require lettuce, red onion, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, vinaigrette dressing and more. Store bought canned tuna or grilled chicken can be cut up and mixed in to add some protein to the meal.
Microwave Baked Potatoes – For an easy dinner option, wash a russet or sweet potato and poke it several times with a fork. Cook it in the microwave for about 5 minutes on each side. Once the potato is soft enough, cut it in half and season it how you like! You can use butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, and cheese or you can get creative with broccoli or spinach.
Knowing what to shop for is the most important step when it comes to eating healthy in college. Giving yourself the proper preparation with a great healthy college grocery list will make it easier for you to make better decisions when mealtime comes. In addition, having the proper compact food prep tools can help make smoothies, toast, sandwiches or snacks easy to make in the dorm. I’ve selected some compact food prep tools for you below.