The College Kid Kitchen – A Cheat SheatPosted: August 18, 2010
Well hello, calendar. It’s August 18th, you say? Are you KIDDING ME? Wasn’t it just June?
This year I’m not wandering up and down the aisles of Target, grabbing sparkly pencils (What? You mean I’m not still in sixth grade?) and extra-long twin bed sheets to stuff in the trunk of my car in anticipation of move-in day at my university.
I may be the only person in the world who gets done with college with nothing but amazing things to say about dorm living…but I can’t lie, I loved it! My campus was gorgeous, the dorms were (relatively) new and (relatively) stinkless, and there was always something going on. Having the majority of my friends within a five minute walk was an added bonus!
The only downside of living on campus was the meal plan requirement. Our cafeteria left MUCH to be desired, yet all residents were required to purchase a pass for a minimum of 10 meals per week. Most of the time I’d eat about 7 of those in the cafeteria, getting the rest of my food from my minifridge or a fast food joint. Looking back, I would have done far better relying more on the former and less on the latter – no surprise there! Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Dairy Queen does not a healthy diet make.
By the last semester of my senior year, I had a pretty good handle on my health, began stocking my fridge much more wisely, and got creative with dormifying recipes. There was a far better balance of appropriate choices to go along with the requisite pizza consumption.
With enough planning, it’s entirely possible to avoid the freshman 15. There really are quite a few nutritionally viable options for the lucky dorm-dwellers of 2010!
- Oatmeal. NOT the flavored, sugar-infused individual packets from Quaker, but the plain and simple instant rolled oats in a canister.
- Natural Peanut Butter. Not only is it a perfect fat-and-protein packed oatmeal topping, but smeared on an apple (which you can often klepto from the cafeteria), it’s a perfect study snack.
- Greek Yogurt. These bad boys take up minimum fridge space and are portable enough to bring along to your 6 am class if you oversleep.
- Cottage Cheese. Pair it with a piece of fresh fruit for a no-prep-required light morning meal!
- Deli-style sandwiches. You can’t get much easier than a few slices of lean ham or turkey (or hey, even Tofurkey!) with a slice of part-skim provolone or cheddar and a squeeze of mustard!
- Dippers + Hummus. A classic assortment of veggies (such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli heads) and a slice of whole wheat pita are a fab midday pick-me-up paired with a substantial dip like hummus.
- Cold salads. Most major grocery stores offer small bins of pre-made lunch salads, such as tabbouleh or a cold couscous. Check the chilled cases near the deli for selections, but avoid mayonnaise-loaded selections like potato salad and cole slaw.
- Salad kits. Look for a bag that includes a dark leafy green like romaine, extra veggies such as carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms, and a satiety-boosting component such as shredded chicken or mozzarella cubes.
- Low sodium canned soups. Amy’s is my go-to brand for their Low Sodium Lentil and vegetarian Minestrone, but Muir Glen and even Progresso have viable options. Just don’t forget the can opener!
- Microwavable instant brown rice. The possibilities are endless: Top with a sliced avocado, organic canned black beans, and salsa for a Mexican theme; use feta crumbles + cucumber + canned beet slices for a Greek variation, or organic canned pinto beans + part-skim cheddar.
- Amy’s frozen dinners. While I normally don’t advocate resorting to microwave meals, the reality is, in college, it happens. Her Indian and Spanish choices are on the better end of the frozen meal scale and stick with mostly respectable ingredients.
- No-sugar-added dried fruits
- Clif/Luna/Lara Bars
- Whole grain pretzels + Part-Skim Cheese
- Raw veggies + honey mustard, dijon, or a light ranch dressing
- Dry cereal (Kashi is always a good place to start)
Have any questions or concerns about staying or getting healthy during college? As a fresh-outta-college gal, I’d love to give my perspective on them! Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let’s get a dialogue going!