How to: Healthy eating, college style

It’s time to kick off the new year by keeping the one resolution that rarely gets fulfilled – eating healthier.

Learning to cook at home is half the battle when trying to maintain a healthy diet and budget. The goal is to stock up on recipes that can be repeated effortlessly. One practice that must become ritual is paying attention to expiration dates. If something lasts longer, it results in less money spent.

Living on campus without the luxury of a kitchen is no excuse to eat junk food every day. Try to choose the healthiest alternatives at Andros or Argos; the same goes for the snack foods you purchase. It may be easy to walk over to Ben and Jerry’s and get a cone – or better yet, buy a whole pint from the convenience store – but what’s important is balance. While it’s not necessary to completely cut out those splurges, because occasionally they can be deemed necessary, there are other foods that do the body better for less.

The core of a nutritious diet is fruits and vegetables, which are not only the most beneficial but also considerably less expensive than processed foods. Meat is often the priciest product at the grocery store, which comes as bad news to carnivores. One way to keep your protein budget up is by eating at least two meatless meals a week. A good alternative is to buy a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and prepare them with brown rice. That way, there will be more money in the bank to spend on better quality meats.

The foods that compose the building blocks of a well-balanced diet line the walls of the average grocery store. Because of this, when beginning a shopping trip with a budget in mind, it is smart to walk the perimeter of the store first to fill up the cart with all of the necessities, leaving little space for junk foods and filler foods.

Many foods’ sole purpose is to provide filler until the main course is served. Eliminating a product like potato chips and substituting them with a healthier alternative such as fruit or yogurt is not only a positive contribution to a healthy body, but also eliminates the greasy feeling that usually follows the completion of a bag.

When buying fruit such as apples, oranges or grapefruit, try to buy by the bag rather than by the piece. It will satisfy the stomach during those between-meal cravings for a lot less money. Also, try to purchase organically grown produce, if possible, because it contains fewer residues of toxic crop pesticides than conventionally grown goods, according to a study published in the New York Times in 2002.

A popular fruit to buy for those on a budget are bananas. Not only are they inexpensive and filling, but they also help to cure many ailments and boost the immune system – an important benefit for college students who may get less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Better health and more money are good news to anyone. Although it may seem daunting at first to actually plan shopping trips rather than chuck appealing items into the cart, most things that come with rewarding results require a little effort to achieve.

Pizza Quesadilla

Ingredients:1 (8-inch) regular or whole-wheat tortilla2 teaspoons tomato paste1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese1 plum tomato, slicedPinch dried oregano (optional)

Directions:Place large pan or griddle over medium heat. When it’s hot, spread tomato paste on one side of tortilla in a thin, even layer. Place tortilla dry side down in pan. Cover evenly with cheese, then place tomato slices on half of tortilla.

Sprinkle on oregano. Cook for three minutes, then fold cheese-only half over the other half and remove to plate. Press down to seal. Slice if desired and wrap in aluminum foil.

1 serving