Home > Resources > Campus Life > College Cooking 101 > 30 Great Food Finds

30 Great Food Finds

Between consuming cafeteria pizza and ramen noodles, the addition of the freshman 15 is a mystery no longer. Many students don't realize how many healthy meal options are actually available in college — they assume the campus dining halls are their only options. Knowing what ingredients to look for at the grocery store, the level of preparation required, and how to make affordable choices can help students eat better while in school. Cooking your own meals is the key to avoiding the deep-fried, high-carb food that is often available in college cafeterias.

Outside of the cereal aisle, the grocery store is unfamiliar territory for most college kids. Plan out a week of meals and make your list before you actually go to the grocery store. By doing this beforehand, you will avoid making impulse purchases and breaking your budget. The grocery store is full of inexpensive and healthy items that require minimal preparation. When combined correctly, the items on this list provide healthy meal alternatives that help you reintroduce meats and vegetables into your diet.

Fruits

Fruits are great because, if in season, they are cheap and very portable. If you live in a dorm, they are a great snack to keep on hand, especially if you are on the campus meal plan. Some of the most economical, healthful and easily purchased are:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapes

Vegetables

Fitting vegetables into your meals is easy...certainly not as difficult as it seems! If you eat mac and cheese or any other semi-instant pasta dishes, just add in the veggies while boiling the water for your pasta.

  • Stir-fry mix
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Baby carrots
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Protein

Often, college students are protein deprived. It's certainly easier to make ramen noodles, but not as healthy. Adding protein to your diet is a great way to increase your energy and balance your carb intake. Protein is more filling and has less calories per gram than carbs.

  • Milk
  • Lunch meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Trail mix (good high-protein snack)
  • Chicken tenderloins (frozen)
  • Black beans (good addition to rice or cous cous)
  • Hummus

Breads, Grains & Pasta

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain bread
  • Rice
  • Cous cous
  • Tortellini
  • Whole grain cereal

Meals on the Go

  • Cereal bars
  • Campbell's single serving soups
  • Lean Cuisine Frozen Dinners

When purchasing single-serving meals, observe their protein, fiber, and fat content. These three areas should tell you a good deal about the product you are consuming and help you determine if it is in fact a healthy option. A good product should have higher amounts of protein and fiber and a low fat content.

Miscellaneous

  • Olive oil
  • Butter

Latest College & Financial Aid News

McDonald's, Ivy Tech Team Up on College Tuition Assistance Program

January 23, 2020

by Susan Dutca-Lovell

More than 300 McDonald's locations will participate in the new Archways to Opportunity education program which - through its partnership with Indiana's community college system - will help its employees afford college tuition. McDonald's employees who work a minimum 15 hours per week for 90 days can receive up to $2,500 in college tuition assistance each year - or $3,000 per year for managers - at 18 Ivy Tech Community College campuses located in Indiana.

[...]

Get Paid to Play in College with ESA Esports Scholarships

January 21, 2020

by Susan Dutca-Lovell

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced its first Esports scholarship, expanding its 20-year-old scholarship program to include Esports competitors in college, according to Polygon. The ESA Esports scholarship program is "intended to elevate the participation of women and minorities" who currently "account for a very small percentage of Esports scholarship recipients. Therefore, in order to be eligible for the ESA Foundation Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship, you must either be a woman or minority and pursuing a degree leading to a career in computer and video game arts and sciences. Current high school seniors, college freshman, sophomore and juniors who are U.S. citizens may apply for the ESA Esports scholarship. Applicants must also be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program at an accredited four (4) year college or university in the upcoming fall semester in order to be considered. All scholarship applications are due March 2, 2020 at 11:59 PST. Applicants will receive results by mid-June and funds will be issued to scholarship winners by end of August. [...]

Biggest / Largest Dollar Scholarships in 2020

January 16, 2020

by Susan Dutca-Lovell

When it comes to large dollar scholarships, mo' money means fewer problems in paying your college tuition bill. The average student will land between $1,000 and $5,000 in college scholarships after investing a decent amount of time and effort into applying for scholarships. Even smaller scholarships worth $500 are enough to cover books and fees, even if they aren't enough to foot an entire semester’s college tuition bill. [...]