Fueling for the College Life

March 20, 2023 | Jody Gatewood

overnight oats

As a college student at Iowa State University, life can get busy. Whether it’s back-to-back classes, hoping from job to job, nights studying at the library, or just time spent with friends, each day is filled. Quick easy meals become a priority to having fuel to make it through these days. I have come up with my top four tips for quick and easy meals in the college lifestyle.

  1. Make a meal plan! My first tip for success involves planning your meals for the week. I try to aim for one meal I want to make, and then some staple items that can be used various ways. Most recipes serve 4-5, so I usually plan to eat leftovers of my one meal throughout the week for dinner. As for lunch, I am always packing a lunch to go so I like to keep lunch simple. These Overnight Oats are a great breakfast or lunch meal that can easily be taken on the go.I also love these Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos, prepare them ahead of time and use them for quick meals throughout the week!
  2. Consider price and space. Getting the most amount of food for the least amount of money is a necessity in college. Money is important and trying to save a few dollars here and there is important. One way to ensure this is comparing the unit price versus the total price when shopping. Check out some more information about this here. On the flip side, buying more may not always be realistic. As 1 of 4 roommates sharing a refrigerator and freezer, I may not have the space for the bigger bag of carrots. Always take into consideration how much space the item may take up, and work from there on a price that works for you.
  3. Choose foods you can use multiple ways. By choosing foods you can use in multiple ways, you are not only saving money, but you are also helping to reduce any food wasted. I really like to do this with my fruits and vegetables. Extra vegetables, such as mushrooms or peppers, I like to use in eggs for breakfast. Extra fruits I always throw into a smoothie to use them up. By picking fruits and vegetables you know how to use in several ways you are ensuring your money and time purchasing them is not wasted! Smoothies are great recipes to throw leftover fruit in! Recipes like this Scrambled Egg Skillet are the perfect way to use up older veggies!
  4. Frozen fruits and vegetables are your friends! As much as I can plan and be prepared beforehand, this never goes exactly to my plan. My cooking time gets scheduled over for a study session, my roommates want to go out for a celebration meal, the list goes on and on. While planning is great, it is important to have that flexibility in a college lifestyle. This is why I tend to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh. Frozen produce provides just as many vitamins and nutrients as fresh, is usually cheaper, and lasts way longer. This Vegetable Fried Rice is a great recipe using frozen vegetables and pantry stables for flexibility in your week!

Written by Anna Mlodzik, ISU Dietetics Student

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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