Many graduate students understandably notice the need to adjust their eating habits, whether it’s needing to eat on a budget because of less income or eating healthier options because of grad school demands. Whatever your previous habits in the kitchen (or at restaurants) have been, I hope to show you some better habits that will be easy on your wallet, good for your body, and helpful to your graduate life.
Cooking at Home
I think many grad students underestimate the amount of money they spend on snacks in the vending machine, quick lunches with colleagues, and coffee/bagel pick-me-ups at their favorite shop. If you don’t agree with me, I’d suggest keeping a journal of food purchases that you make in a week, besides groceries. You might be surprised by how much these small totals add up. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ever go out to eat or reward yourself with a treat from a bakery close to campus. But saving money by cooking at home is definitely worth it when you’re able to afford more food throughout the month that’s better for you, too.
When you decide to cook more at home, don’t feel like you have to get the most expensive food or the cheaper, less quality food at grocery stores. Research your city and find cheaper produce markets that sell food in season; that way, you know it’s better for you, and it’ll be cheaper than out-of-season produce. Another way to shop smart is to buy what you can in bulk. For instance, if pasta boxes are on sale for a dollar, buy three or four boxes instead of one so they can last you longer without costing much more. Also, don’t be afraid to look for stores’ sales before heading out on your shopping trip, and consider browsing their clearance shelves. Even give coupons a try by finding them in the college and local newspapers and online. The infographic below has 40 different ideas for you to help reduce your grocery bill without sacrificing healthy food choices. It will take time to get adjusted to healthier eating habits, but it will be worth it, which brings me to my next point.
Yes, there is time to prepare food for a week in a few hours on the weekend. If you set aside time for grocery shopping and planning meals on Saturdays or Sundays, you’ll spend less time than if you try to do this during the week. For instance, you’ll be hurrying to make lunches for the next day or spend too long in the kitchen trying to think of what to make for dinner each night. During a shopping trip, buy plenty of fruits and vegetables that you can chop up and bag to bring for a snack each day. You can also make a big, healthy soup to eat for leftovers during the week and prepare and freeze a few lunches and dinners so that all you have to do is either heat them up or let them thaw throughout the day.
If these tips interest you to learn more about eating wisely and healthy in grad school, check out these gradhacker articles by Liz Homan and Katie Shives. How have your eating habits changed since being in grad school? What other tips do you have for fellow grad students who need help adjusting to better eating habits in grad school? Feel free to leave comments below.