As students, we all know that our lack of budget and time doesn’t exactly add up to being a whiz in the kitchen, but that doesn’t have to mean greasy fast food for every meal. My roommates and I love to cook, and have perfected a handful of meal ideas that are both budget friendly and time efficient.
-Strawberries and Cream waffles: Begin by toasting a frozen waffle. I like Kashi multigrain waffles- they’re delicious and healthier than the alternative! Spread low fat cream cheese on the waffle and top with slices of fresh strawberries. Such a delicious combination that tastes so indulgent and will fuel you for your long day of classes!
-Three-ingredient Banana Pancakes: Mash 1 banana in a bowl. Add 2 eggs and ½ cup of instant oats. Mix together, pour, and flip! And there you have it- delicious, fluffy pancakes in less than 10 minutes time.
-Pesto Pizza: This is definitely a favorite amongst my roommates and I. Start with a whole-wheat wrap and spread with a thin layer of pesto (you can make your own, or buy some at the store). Top the pizza with whatever you have in the fridge! My favorite toppings are feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, olives, and grilled chicken. Drizzle to top with a little bit of olive oil, and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the crust begins to crisp on the edges.
-Homemade White Bean Dip: Start with a can of your favorite white beans and drain- I usually go with great northern beans or navy beans. In a food processor or small blender, add beans, a tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and serve with pita bread and fresh veggies for dipping!
- Greek Yogurt Chicken Breast: I absolutely love cooking with Greek yogurt because it makes dishes creamy, without adding tons of calories. Start with a cup of plain Greek yogurt and add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Season the mixture with whatever you have on hand (I usually add garlic and basil). Coat your boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the yogurt and let it marinate for 2 hours. Cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, and enjoy! Serve with steamed veggies and brown rice.
Scenario number one: I need a job! Money is tight for most all college students. If you have time to work but are worried you won’t be able to find a job in your new town, don’t be! I moved from Iowa to Omaha and I wanted a job more than anything. You have to be proactive. I went around to various stores and introduced myself to many managers. I filled out numerous applications and sure enough, quickly got multiple interviews. The key is to look for a job right at the beginning of the school year. Most part time jobs have seasonal workers who maybe live in your college town but go to school elsewhere. When these employees to away to school, they need people to fill their shoes fast during the school year, it’s perfect! Be confident and go get em!
Scenario number two: Homework overload! College is interesting because although you will suddenly have an abundance of free time, you will also find yourself with insane amounts of homework. If you put two and two together, do your homework in your free time! I know it doesn’t sound like the most fun to use your free time for your studies, but it will benefit you. If you use time between classes or at lunch to study, you can use your evenings to relax. I’ve found myself mastering the art of getting everything done early in the day or afternoon; it’s so nice to be able to relax when dinner time rolls around.
Scenario number three: I got dumped! I know the initial thing to do after being dumped is going to one extreme or the other. Either you don’t eat or you eat the whole pantry. Either you don’t sleep or you sleep your life away. Either you don’t work out or you never stop. Point is, neither extreme is healthy. College brings change that sometimes high school relationships or summer flings can’t handle. If you find yourself suddenly riding solo, embrace it! Think of all the new fish in the college sea. I know at first it will seem as though no one can compare to the one you were with, truth is; only time will tell. If you are supposed to be with that person, eventually it will happen if not, it might as well end sooner than later. Have fun, remain confident, and don’t always think you NEED to be in a relationship to be happy.
Scenario number four: I’ve gained weight! Everyone has heard of the so called, “freshman 15.” It’s true that college can initially lead to weight gain. This is due to eating at later times in the night, eating more fast food, and not working out as much. Alcohol is also one of the main causes of weight gain in college students. To fix your sudden weight gain, start with eating right. Pick meals that include each food group, and attempt to snack less. Along with eating the right foods, try and eat all your food before 9 at night. The later you eat, the more food sticks on your body once you sleep. Eating breakfast is one of the main contributors to a healthy diet. Breakfast gets your metabolism going sooner, and leads to less hunger overall throughout the day. If you must go to a fast food restaurant to eat, try and pick a subway or order off the lower calorie menu. The best advice is to just avoid fast food. Other things to avoid include pop and alcohol. These beverages are loaded with a ridiculous amount of calories. If you feel a good workout is in order, just do it! Now that the weather is getting nice, try going for a run or a bike ride. Getting active is a step in the right direction.
I hope if any of my scenarios related to you, my advice will also. Have an awesome last few weeks of school!
Finals Week is right around the corner, meaning you better rest up now and mentally prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Those of us who have been through this before all have our own rituals for Finals. Some are effective, some are questionable, and others are downright creepy. A couple of years back I had a classmate who swore that if he studied for an exam with his shoes on, he would fail. One of my rituals is to try to eat healthy during finals week. I think it’s a good way to keep your brain at 100% while giving your body an extra boost to make up for the erratic sleeping habits, added stress, etc. Finals week can be a very difficult time to eat healthy because of time constraints, but don’t give up! Try some of these easy meal options and foods that boost brain function.
Easy (but still healthy) Meal Options:
- Apples and Peanut Butter
- Carrots and Ranch
- Protein Bars
Foods that Boost Brain Function:
- Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which plays a vital role in brain function.
- Blueberries are well-known to boost brain function. Studies have shown that the berries can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills in rats.
- Nuts like Almonds and Walnuts will help because of their Omega-3 and Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps stop the decline in cognitive development as you get older.
- Whole Grains contain fiber, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They help blood flow, which is good for your entire body.
- Eggs are high in Choline, which can help improve memory functions.
- Avocados are high in fat, however it’s monounsaturated fat (aka “good” fat). “Good” fat is a major contributor of a healthy blood flow. Healthy blood flow is essential to healthy brain function.
- Beans are a lesser known brain boosting food, however they are great for stabilizing glucose levels. The brain uses glucose as fuel, as you can see why this would be important. Lentils and black beans are the best in the category. Warning: do not overdo it on beans, especially if you plan on studying in a public place. Trust me.
- Dark Chocolate is actually very healthy for your brain. It contains antioxidant properties, which helps the brain deal with free radicals. Free Radicals can have damaging effects on the brain. Use dark chocolate in moderation, because it’s loaded with fat and caffeine.
After you start college, most people begin to realize that their metabolism begins to slow down and weekend activities of going out and late night eating are beginning to catch up to them. You can help this problem by beating the massive weight gain that can come from Thanksgiving dinner. If you are dieting or not, you can keep your Thanksgiving dinner light and healthy but still filling. Also, following with the right steps can do wonders!
- Whether you are dieting or not, do not go into your Thanksgiving dinner setting too many limits or goals. You don’t need to skip the delicious pumpkin pie dessert just because you think it will push you over the edge. Also, you don’t need to overindulge just to be the one that brags about getting seconds, thirds, and fourths.
- Have a normal dinner the night before and a light lunch the day of. Don’t starve yourself because you are looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner. Your stomach needs to expand to fit all the food you plan on eating, and not eating will slow your metabolism leading to weight gain after making up for it at dinner.
- Take your time eating and don’t stuff down food because you think it is going to run out. I don’t think I have ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner that did not have some leftovers for the next day, so DON’T WORRY. Talk to people and enjoy more than just the food.
- Eat normal sized portions. There is such a variety of food at Thanksgiving dinner that even if you eat the same portions you usually would, you are eating a little bit of everything which is more than your normal dinner intake.
- If you are trying to diet, stay away from the cheesy items, lots of gravy, or avoid whip cream during dessert. Little things like this can help save a few calories.
- If you are still hungry, don’t be afraid to go back for seconds. It doesn’t matter how many times you go up as long as you are not eating passed the point of being full. Remember, dessert is still on the way!
- Sit a bit and have some coffee with the family. Have a little bit of caffeine to keep you from going into a food coma right after you leave the table.
- Go on a walk instead of sitting around. Take the dog on a walk or take a walk through the neighborhood with a grandparent or someone you don’t always see. This is a great time for family bonding, not just sleeping.
- The next day don’t stuff yourself again. Because your stomach is stretched out from the big dinner the night before, you are going to feel very hungry. Have your normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have healthy snacks between if you still feel hungry.
I’m reading College Algebra