The end of the year doesn’t just mean your classes are ending, it means the end of your meal plan too. Many of us get caught realizing this too little too late. If you are in need to stretch your meal plan to keep you fueled up during final time, check out these tips:
One option is to simply add more to your meal plan. This is most likely the most expensive but most convenient route.
Does your school let you take a meal to go? This could be used to your advantage. Fill up that to go box with the two P’s, produce and protein. Most dishes can be stretched easily. Going to the grocery store or local farmer’s market for lettuce to stretch out cafeteria dishes by making them salads. Some cafeterias I have eaten at have a Taqueria or Mexican section. Filling up a to go box with shredded chicken and salsa can be stretched by making a Mexican salad in your dorm. Other dishes can be stretched out with rice or pasta. Make it healthy and look for multigrain, which sometimes only costs a few cents extra. To go boxes also leave you with more than one meal, even by an athlete’s standards. This way, using one block or meal can end up providing you with a couple meals.
Pick your meals wisely. If you have a big breakfast, could you make it to dinner with only a few snacks? Breakfast is the cheapest meal to eat in your room as you can get cereal, a large tub of yogurt, box of farina, carton of eggs (if you have stove access) or a large tin of oatmeal each of which are not costly and will last. If you factor out that you can have one meal in the cafeteria a day, make it lunch. This way you will be most full in the middle of the day, good for your budget and good for you digestion. You will need some dinner meals though. Some cheap but healthy dinner items to stock up on are rice, beans, soup, frozen veggies, and frozen dinners. A word on frozen dinners: be sure to check the Nutrition Facts to see how much food you are getting for the price. I have found that Healthy Choice meals give you more food for the same price and quality as Lean Cuisine.
If most of your meal plan is consumed by coffee (and/or tea), price out how much you can save by buying instant coffee or tea packets in bulk. I know what you’re thinking, instant coffee is nothing to your Starbucks Frappuccino. Some instant cappuccino mixes are surprisingly satisfying. General Foods International’s 100-Calorie Packs of French Vanilla Cappuccino Mix is a personal favorite and cheaper than my usual Starbucks order.
Although I am not advising anyone to go on a liquid diet, staying hydrated can keep you feeling full longer. Make sure to drink water or herbal tea throughout the day. This is especially important as there is a lot of salt in Ramen, a classic college staple food.
Just think that in a few weeks, you will be home eating as you’re used to.