One of the hardest parts of moving away to college was giving up my kitchen at home. Not only was I losing my kitchen, but I also had to give up the freedom of buying food at the grocery store thanks to the required school meal plan. All that aside, I’ve been able to eat pretty clean while on campus by using my resources and choosing my food wisely.
The worst part of not having a kitchen is giving up all food that can’t be microwaved. I miss cooking up fresh dinner every night! The best tip I can give to fellow students is to find clean parts of meals, and just combine them yourself. For example, on one menu there is the “chicken sandwich”, but I ask for just the chicken in a box. After that, there are veggies I can order to go with the chicken- cooked or uncooked. Combining parts of meals gives variety AND won’t ruin clean eating. Also, I suggest sticking to the basics- buy the plain fruits or veggies because you know they haven’t been tampered with.
There is one grocery store nearby that takes my meal plan (I use the term “grocery store” lightly). The store has limited variety and is probably the size of my dorm room. That being said, I can usually find my favorite protein bars there (Luna and Quest bars). Also, they carry a variety of different drinks that I like to experiment with and try out. It’s super important to look at the ingredients on all drinks though. No artificial sweeteners or dyes! I like to add different milks (like the Zico coconut milk) to my homemade smoothies or add ice to pre-made smoothies to make them thicker.
When the variety of fresh foods on campus gets a bit monotonous, I always bring fresh food to campus from a local grocery store or from home. My recent favorite snack is the sun dried tomato hummus with my homemade pita chips. Sometimes it’s difficult to do meal prep in the dorm, but it’s always worth it. Having homemade chips around makes it easier for me to turn down the processed food I see other kids eating.
The most important thing to do is to plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail!
Think outside the box on campus and get creative. Grab for the fresh fruits instead of the prepackaged cookies or chips. Eating well on campus is something that has taken me an entire semester to adjust to, but now it comes easily and I’m familiar with my options. College doesn’t have to mean the “freshman 15”. Instead, make it a goal to take advantage of the gym(s) on campus and eat healthier than you have before because the options are readily available if you just search for them 🙂 Happy eating!