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Advice for College Chick

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Old 12-25-2014, 11:21 PM   #1
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Default Advice for College Chick

Hi ladies!

I will be transferring colleges this upcoming semester and will be living in an on-campus apartment. It has microwave, stove, full-size refrigerator, and I'm bringing my slow cooker. I figured I'd go to the grocery store every week. What staples should I buy that won't break the bank? Also, what are some recommendations for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?
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Old 12-25-2014, 11:37 PM   #2
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I suggest dry soup mixes (or those boxed soups if you want something you can just pop in the microwave). Pasta is another thing that can sit in the cupboard for a long time, though I'd go easy on pasta.

I suggest buying things like fresh veggies, meat, etc as-needed, since they go bad faster than you might think.
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Old 12-26-2014, 01:47 AM   #3
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Frozen veggies are inexpensive, store well, microwave up quickly...not forever, tho, as they can get freezer burn/icy. You can dress them up with a tiny bit of butter, parmesan, garlic, other spices. Or use them in stir fry or soups. I don't use a lot of dry spices, but they store better and add extra flavor. You might consider Turmeric, cumin, cinnamon (cassia form is less expensive), chili powder, oregano, rosemary. Family size meat portions can be washed and cut into individual portions and frozen on shopping day, or cooked in a crock pot, then frozen. (Beef roast cooked in the crock pot is good for barbeque sandwiches or stir fry.)

Have some inexpensive plasticware on hand for freezing fruits and vegetables if you can't use them up. Freeze bananas in the peel when they're too ripe for you, and you can use them in banana bread later. Banana muffins are great presents for starving college students--especially if you add peanut butter or chocolate chips! When eggs get old--use them for breakfast, bake something, or boil and store. I add boiled eggs to salads.

Celery, onions, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, some apples, blueberries store fairly well. I keep nuts and whole grain flour in the freezer to prevent the oils from getting rancid. I buy enough salad fixin's for a few days at a time, wash and chop them on grocery day, dispense into plasticware, and they're ready to grab and go. (can't live without my salad spinner-$5 at TJ Maxx.)

Grape are my go-to snack. And I obviously et a lot of mileage from plasticware!

You'd get better answers if you mentioned what plan you're on and if you're maintaining, just trying for healthy eating, or need to lose a lot of weight.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SeeMyFeet View Post
You'd get better answers if you mentioned what plan you're on and if you're maintaining, just trying for healthy eating, or need to lose a lot of weight.
I'm trying to lose weight.
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Old 12-30-2014, 01:05 AM   #5
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I'd steer clear of most packaged foods. Take the time to make something real and healthy instead. Buy lots of frozen veggies if you're in a pinch for time but if you're able to buy fresh that's much nicer. Don't skimp out on meat either, you still need some good lean protein (unless you're a veg, don't let the $$ scare you off from good quality meat).

As for staples, rice is generally a better option than pasta but pasta isn't horrible if you're not eating it constantly. Quinoa is a great grain that has a great source of protein and is very versatile in terms of cooking (think cold salads, stuffed peppers, vegetarian chili). Tons of eggs and legumes as well. Canned items like chickpeas, lentils and various other beans keep well and are easy to transform with great recipes.

That all being said, you need to decide what type of way of eating you are going to try. Are you going to try to eliminate carbs? Count calories? Low fat? Master the art of portion control? There's a bunch of factors that you need to think about before we can give you any real good advice - you sort of have to figure out your food philosophy first.

For example, my main problem is definitely portion control - so I'm trying to tackle that while keeping one eye on my calories. I also like the idea of eliminating unnecessary bread products but have a hard time doing that because sandwiches are so da,med easy. I also think I have some sort of IBS situation/food intolerance which is why I'm seeing my Dr next week. Tons of factors that will take a while to get a hold on.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:18 PM   #6
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For breakfast, oatmeal. And I wouldn't buy the prepackaged stuff, buy it in the large can. Less waste, cheaper, and less additives like sugar or other stuff. You can buy brown sugar, dried cranberries, etc, if thats what you like in it. I like to do sandwiches for lunch personally, or salads. I work, so I buy those pre-packaged salad kits (the hypocrisy, I know) but if you're at home and can prepare it, then do it. Boiled eggs are great too. I like apples and some peanut butter. Dinner is the hardest for me, but when I do cook I tend to go more towards chicken curry. But I have to cook for me and my husband, so it's partly up to him too. I did make some great baked bbq chicken the other night, with some baked beans. If you want to go for weight loss, portions portions portions.
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Old 01-11-2015, 05:25 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by SeeMyFeet View Post
Frozen veggies are inexpensive, store well, microwave up quickly...not forever, tho, as they can get freezer burn/icy. You can dress them up with a tiny bit of butter, parmesan, garlic, other spices. Or use them in stir fry or soups. I don't use a lot of dry spices, but they store better and add extra flavor. You might consider Turmeric, cumin, cinnamon (cassia form is less expensive), chili powder, oregano, rosemary. Family size meat portions can be washed and cut into individual portions and frozen on shopping day, or cooked in a crock pot, then frozen. (Beef roast cooked in the crock pot is good for barbeque sandwiches or stir fry.)

Have some inexpensive plasticware on hand for freezing fruits and vegetables if you can't use them up. Freeze bananas in the peel when they're too ripe for you, and you can use them in banana bread later. Banana muffins are great presents for starving college students--especially if you add peanut butter or chocolate chips! When eggs get old--use them for breakfast, bake something, or boil and store. I add boiled eggs to salads.

Celery, onions, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, some apples, blueberries store fairly well. I keep nuts and whole grain flour in the freezer to prevent the oils from getting rancid. I buy enough salad fixin's for a few days at a time, wash and chop them on grocery day, dispense into plasticware, and they're ready to grab and go. (can't live without my salad spinner-$5 at TJ Maxx.)

Grape are my go-to snack. And I obviously et a lot of mileage from plasticware!

You'd get better answers if you mentioned what plan you're on and if you're maintaining, just trying for healthy eating, or need to lose a lot of weight.
Good call on frozen veggies, squash is good. Also buy dried legumes like lentils, peas, etc, and eggs for your meatless protein.

Brown rice is a must too. Sprouts are cheap, tasty and fun to grow. Put
whatever non-fat sauce you want on them.

Canned tomatoes for cooking, cottage cheese, jasmine tea and
100% juices.
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Old 01-13-2015, 12:22 PM   #8
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I'd buy a cheap food scale (often under $15) and check out www.budgetbytes.com for some great ideas on inexpensive meals. The easiest way to save some money is to cook full dishes, portion and freeze.
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:53 PM   #9
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^ Agree on Budget Bytes! And she is focusing more on healthy eating this year, so hopefully her upcoming recipes will be a bit healthier than usual. Also, check out her article on kitchen pantry staples.

I didn't eat much meat at all when I was in college, as it's much cheaper that way. I ate a LOT of beans and eggs, plus brown rice, veggies (mostly frozen as they are cheap and easy to microwave). Stir fry with tofu, shrimp, or chicken.
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Old 01-15-2015, 05:28 PM   #10
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I was on this site the first time when I was a college chick and successfully lost 100lb while living in a situation like that My suggestions are to pick whatever day of the week you are the least busy and prepare meals... prepare all your breakfasts/snacks/lunches for the week and pop them in the freezer. I was pretty busy full time studenting/working several jobs/ministry/gym... so my biggest issue came when I didn't have a plan.

Fresh things I keep:
-Baby carrots (or if you have time buy whole carrots and pre slice them)
-Lettuce/Spinach
-Apples/bananas
-Hummus (you can make your own but plain hummus is easy to buy too)
-Celery
-Onions
-Eggs

Cupboard
-Oatmeal
-Dried beans especially lentils. I love to make a lentil stew with lentil/carrot/celery/onion.
-Different spices and seasonings
-I liked hunts pasta sauce (in the large cans). It was cheap and I liked to put it on frozen veggies.
-Brown rice... maybe some whole wheat pasta but I don't eat that often and when I do I do about 1/2 serving and replace the rest with frozen veggies

Freezer
-Ground Flax seed (store in freezer after opened), great for adding protein and fiber to smoothies
-Frozen chicken breasts/fish filets
-Frozen fruit... strawberries/pineapple/other berries
-Tons of frozen veggies, particularly for me broccoli and spinach

I shop at GFS to save money on food. I didn't discover it until around the end of my college days but it was awesome... check if you have a bulk food place in your area.

I would buy some tupperware in different sizes so that you can cook recipes and portion them up individually to put in the fridge or freezer. That also means at least one large pot if you have a place to store it. Making a large batch saves so much time.
Measuring cups and spoons are important if you are counting calories (which I found is the best way for me to lose weight), and you will want a food scale as well, Walmart sells a cheap one that works just fine.
I like to have a muffin tray handy because I can pre-make a lot of breakfast foods this way and put them in the freezer already portioned (like eggs/healthy muffins/etc).
Another thing you might like is a small blender. I like to throw some frozen fruit, frozen bananas, flax seed, spinach, etc in the blender and make a snack or meal out of that sometimes.

I highly recommend finding a website to use to count your calories if you are trying to lose weight. I liked SparkPeople in the past and now I use the calorie counter on my fitbit just because it's in one place. It's different for everyone but for me I try to keep my carb intake low. I still eat veg/fruit carbs but try to keep all other sugar and bread/wheat out at this point. I recommend eating mostly whole foods. One of the only processed things I still splurge on are the hunts pasta sauces though if you have time you can always make your own.
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