Sick of living off Ramen, Easy Mac, and Pop Tarts? Read on for healthy, 1R-Approved, snacks.
Now that Carolyn has told you how to avoid the dreaded (though not inevitable!) Freshman 15, and given you a list of the healthiest foods under a dollar, here’s a shopping list to make keeping the weight off that much easier.
Think of it as a high-fiber replacement for those dreaded processed Dorito’s. This is a great way to get your salt fix without all the added calories and artificial orange coloring. (Have you seen those commercials where the fake cheese actually glows in the dark? Ew.) The best choices are single serving packs with light or no butter. I like Orville Redenbacher’s Kettle Korn or Natural Lime & Salt Mini Bags. Newman’s Own also makes 94% Fat Free or Lite Butter mini packs.
2. Peanut butter
In moderation! Peanut butter is a major culprit when it comes to over-consumption. One serving size is only two tablespoons (about the size of a ping pong ball), but it is packed with about 190 calories and 8 grams of protein, so use it wisely! Natural peanut butters (the kind with the oil floating on top) are better choices than Jiff or Skippy because they nix the trans fats.
3. Protein Bars
Gotta be the easiest snack there is, but again, careful not to overdo it! Protein bars like Clif and Luna are formulated to give you the boost of energy you’re looking for, which also means they can be loaded with calories. So on days when you’re leaning more towards the sedentary, you may want to save half of that Nutz Over Chocolate for later.
The starchiness and high potassium content make this fruit the perfect snack, especially when paired with a protein like peanut butter or yogurt. When bought at the supermarket and kept in your room, bananas will cost you about $.25 each, versus $1-$1.50 at the campus café or Starbucks. Keep them elevated on a banana hook (the dorkiest/greatest invention ever) to avoid bruising.
5. Pre-cooked brown rice
Finally! A replacement for Ramen? You can buy this stuff from Uncle Ben’s or get it organic from Trader Joe’s. Both versions are cheap and take less than 10 minutes in the microwave. By trading this in for your Ramen, you will be eating way less sodium while boosting your fiber and protein intake. All positives when it comes to your energy, endurance, and long-term heart health. You can make this into a full meal by mixing in some frozen broccoli, grilled chicken, soy sauce and/or sriracha. Delish!
6. Instant oatmeal
Keep this with you wherever you are most likely to eat breakfast (kitchen, desk, locker…). Oatmeal is a fabulous way to up your fiber intake (remember, you need 25-35g per day), and the combination of protein and whole grains will keep you feeling full. Add cinnamon for flavor and some milk or nuts to boost the protein.
This one is tricky cause it can easily act as a dessert in disguise. Naturally, yogurt is low in calories and high in protein, but you must choose carefully. Flavored or fruit-on-bottom yogurts are often high in added sugars. “Lite” versions are lower in calories, but made with Splenda or other artificial sweeteners. It’s best to go plain (preferably low- or nonfat) and add the extras yourself. And if you can handle the thickness, go Greek! Greek yogurts (like Fage or Oikos) are highest in protein. For breakfast, I like to mix in honey, frozen berries or fresh fruit, and a high fiber cereal (like Fiber One) for some added flavor/texture.
We love these nuts for their monounsaturated fats (the good stuff!), fiber, protein, and Vitamin E. Just be careful of portion sizes. One ounce of almonds (about 20-24 kernels) has about 160 calories and 14g of fat. I like to buy in bulk and pre-portion into snack bags to take on the go.
Again, this snack is high in protein and fiber so it will fill you up! Try it with baby carrots, or whole wheat pita and pre-made taboule salad (you can usually find this right next to the hummus – tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers… yum!)
10. Low-sodium soups
What can be better in college than an entire meal in a can? Pre-made soups can be a great meal as long as you’re watching the sodium content. Amy’s makes a great product with 50% less sodium (about 350mg/serving). Compare this to Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle, which has 790mg in one single cup!!
Eating healthy and maintaining your diet in college doesn’t have to make a huge dent in your funds. These foods are all inexpensive and readily available allowing you to save your cash (and your calories!) for Saturday night … or the morning after brunch.