A student guide to eating well off campus

Eating Well Off Campus for Less

by Nat Forcier

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Living off campus offers many freedoms, but has maintaining a healthy diet at a reasonable cost become a concern for you? A sandwich from Subway can only serve as your main meal of the day a limited number of times. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that students "improve eating habits" in order to stay healthy. Consult their additional tips here. Does the pizza place down the road recognize your voice on the phone? It is probably time to add something new to the menu. Knowing what simple foods to stock in your kitchen can help when the munchies hit.

An assignment is due at 10:00 am and you wake at 8:00 am. It is comforting to be able to breakfast in your place while finishing the work. Once the coffee is brewing, you can turn to the refrigerator for sustenance. An egg requires only quick cooking time and provides great nutrition boiled, poached, or fried. Purchasing a dozen organic eggs is an excellent investment in protein. If properly stored (not in the door of the fridge) with the date on the carton facing toward the front, multipurpose eggs are great.

Real college students may not claim to eat quiche, but procuring the recipe for your favorite version of this egg and cheese creation and learning to bake your own will serve you well for years to come. Quiche is delicious not only hot from the oven, but also as a cold meal on the go.

Dry cereal has the benefit of being readily available, but it is not the best value for your money. Try storing some walnuts in the fridge along with plain or vanilla yogurt. Add nuts to your choice of yogurt and top with frozen raspberries or blueberries from your freezer and you will have a healthy breakfast alternative. All of these ingredients have rather lengthy shelf lives, so they will be forgiving if you do not consume them immediately. Oatmeal and other hot cereals can be stored in a cabinet. They require only water and a small sauce pan to prepare. Add maple syrup, honey, milk, or butter and you have a warm breakfast treat for cold mornings.

Rice can be used for snacks and added to or served as the basis for many meals. Like other grains, it is best to choose a product closest to its original form, but long-grain white rice is preferred by many. Avail yourself of beautiful aromatic rices and hearty brown types with nut-like qualities. Some are intimidated by the instructions and fear of creating a sticky mass of starch; you don't have to be one of them. The More-With-Less Cookbook provides a baked alternative. Learn how your microwave works and you can make good rice in it too by using this same set up. The recipe follows below:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine in covered casserole.

2 cups hot water (do not take from the tap)
1 cup rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon margarine or butter

Cover and bake 45 minutes or longer for larger quantities.

Cooked rice of any variety can be added to yogurt to create a sort of rice pudding. Reheated with beans (canned, drained, and rinsed kidney, red, black, or pinto) and served with salsa and cheese, rice makes an excellent evening meal. Discover your favorite! The same may be said of the beans! Inexpensive and healthful, these staples should not be overlooked by hungry students. Storing these basic foods allows you to easily supplement your diet with small, but regular purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables.

A well-made frozen pizza with a whole grain crust can be another great asset in your freezer. It's a blank canvas. Keeping a couple on hand allows you to create masterpieces when the time is right! Visit your farmers' market to seek out fresh bell peppers available in a range of colors for your creation. Circles of red onion, cubes of fresh pineapple, leaves of basil, discs of tomato, and chopped garlic (to sprinkle in an impressionistic sort of way) will enliven any effort. For something light and meaty, top your beautiful pizza with sliced or shredded cooked chicken breast. You can boil or bake a package of chicken and save the cooked meat for adding to salads, sandwiches, rice dishes, quiche, and pizza.

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Keep yourself healthy and out of fast food joints nightly by enjoying the possibilities of eating in your own kitchen. Invite friends over to rave about your delicious quiche served with pre-washed organic greens and that bottle of dressing that has been sitting in the cabinet since you first moved in. Invite friends to bring a frozen pizza and one favorite topping and make beautiful art together. And when it comes time to buckle down and write that paper, you can be confident you will have plenty of options at home when it is time for a snack.

Nat raised her family off-the-grid and later off-campus. Her kitchens were filled with fragrant soups, brewing teas, and simple healthy foods that satisfied and fortified. You can find her online at BigSkyWriting.com. She also has a deep interest in the welfare of veterans and has a veterans tool kit page.

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