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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 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


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


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.


  • Olive oil
  • Butter

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