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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Eating healthy on a budget

Planning+meals+ahead+of+time+can+help+students+make+healthy+and+low-cost+choices.
Photo by Olivia Treadwell

Planning meals ahead of time can help students make healthy and low-cost choices.

Eating a healthy diet is a very popular New Year’s Resolution, and also a tough one to keep on a budget. 

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a healthy diet should include an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods, limits to both saturated and red-meats and a strong focus on portion control. 

One useful strategy is to check the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.gov to make sure meals are following the recommended layout. Planning meals can help students make smart choices, such as purchasing wheat bread as opposed to white bread and learning how to cook some foods like chicken beforehand rather than worrying about your diet in the midst of studying. 

A common roadblock to eating healthy is also taste, which can be taken care of by planning ahead and trying to find healthy foods that are both tasty and affordable. 

Another great way to transition toward a healthier life is by snacking on fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples and celery instead of chips and cookies. Eating foods low in saturated fats like peanut butter and avocados as a replacement for common dips like queso is a great way to prevent cardiovascular disease. Making transitions similar to these becomes much easier when meals are planned ahead. 

Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy can be budget friendly. For example, a two-pound bag of brown rice from H-E-B costs $1.25 and creates about six cup-sized servings. Another example is 16 oz of baby carrots, which comes out to 98 cents for five servings. MyPlate.gov recommends that fruits and vegetables make up half of every meal. The other key building blocks are whole grains, lean protein and dairy. The ideal plate may be hard to achieve, so below there is a sample meal with prices per serving: 

Sample Meal

Cup of Brown Rice ($0.20)2 oz Wheat Pasta ($0.13)

Half a Cup of Broccoli ($0.24)3 oz Sweet Potato ($0.21)

3 oz Grilled Chicken Breast ($0.90)4 oz Ground Turkey ($0.92)

Medium Apple ($0.24)Medium Banana ($0.25)

Cup of Low-Fat Milk ($0.13)Cup of Low-Fat Yogurt ($0.98)

Total comes out to be    $1.71 $2.49

This meal and many others end up being a reasonable price for a healthier life, and they are affordable enough to leave room in the budget for spices and sauces. The sample meal closely resembles the recommended servings, but any change, no matter how small, can make a difference. Spending an extra $1.34 to purchase a grilled chicken Sandwich as opposed to a regular Chick-fil-A Sandwich or replacing an order of fries for a small fruit offered at most food courts on campus are important choices to make throughout the day. Recognizing the healthier options and planning ahead is going to aid in the efforts to keep those New Year’s Resolutions and maintain a healthy diet.

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