Freshman Fifteen, Crock Pots, and Budgets. OH, MY!

There’s nothing like the feeling of fall…

The leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of smoke from a distant chimney, the over aggressive need to put pumpkin in everything, and finally the reality that a new college semester is under way and you have already gained five pounds.

When it comes to nutrition and fitness, the main factor in weight gain is an unhealthy diet. In college it’s a struggle every day to even feed yourself, let alone eat properly. I myself gained nearly twenty pounds my first year away at college, and then struggled for four months to shed off the massive amounts of cafeteria poutine and chicken fingers.

Many students are sent away without any basic knowledge on how to cook proper meals for themselves. With that though it’s not even solely just what they eat, in turn also how and when they eat it too. It’s hard to catch a snack in between classes, and when you get home all you want to do is sit down and do nothing. Then there’s money. Groceries are expensive, and the unhealthier stuff is what goes on sale more often and is much easier to store.

Believe me, I though all of this stuff last year too, until I got up and made a plan for myself in the little free time I had. The last thing I wanted was my freshman fifteen to turn into a second year fifteen, and it had also occurred to me I also have less money this semester, because I was saddled with the never ending joy that is student debt. I discovered that with a petite amount of planning I could still eat healthy and save money at the same time.

My list includes a little research, but in the long run it has made my life a lot easier when it comes to buying groceries and eating cheap healthy meals.

  1. Research Farmers Markets in Your Area:

They offer fresh produce with minimal overhead cost, and also is nice having some comfort in knowing where your produce comes from.

Farmers Markets also offer you a fun and rewarding experience.
2. Figure Out What Produce is In Season:

Produce is grown in a specific time period here in Canada, and when it is in that season produce becomes cheaper because there are less import costs. There are even websites about seasonal Canadian foods to help you figure out what to buy when, and even simple info graphics that offer information.

Pumpkins are easily the most iconic seasonal fruit.
3. Canned Vegetables:

Almost any vegetable you can buy fresh, you can also buy in a can. They are healthy, long lasting, and easy to cook with.

Canned foods work amazingly in home made stews and soup.
4. Flyers Are Your New Best Friend:

If you look closely in flyers it’s not only the processes foods that can go on sale, but also meats and produce too. Flyers are a great way to keep track of what specials when. There are even websites that compile multiple flyers in one easy to find place.

Most places like Walmart and No Frills even price match flyers from their competitors.
5. Stock Up:

I can’t stress this one enough. Stock up on goods when they are on sale. Specifically meat, because it can always be frozen.

You can divide meat into smaller portions and label the date that you portioned the items on Ziploc bags.
6. Plan Your Meals, and Only Buy What You Need:

Plan your meals for the week, and figure out what ingredients you need. That way you don’t over spend on perishable foods that you may not even use.

meal-planner-550x424
There are a wide variety of templates you can save from Google.
7. Use Pinterest or Google to Find Recipes:

The internet is a wonderful place, you can find recipes for almost anything, and the best part is that a lot of them are easy or can be modified to your needs. One of my favourite websites to use is allrecipes.com.

pinterest-slow-cooker-crock-pot-recipes
You can look up almost any food you fancy on Pinterest for how-to’s and recipes.
8. Get a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker:

Definitely one of the most useful small appliances to have in your college cooking arsenal. You can put countless combinations of food in this bad boy, and come back to an amazing smelling, tasting, and super easy dinner after class.

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I affectionately named my little red Crock Pot Claude

After I was able to apply this list to my living situation now, I have continued forward in my goals for losing weight. It has also assisted me in keeping to and following a budget that I set for myself.

Saving money as a college student is hard, and eating healthy on a budget is even harder. So make a plan for yourself, because after college your nutrition habits are one thing that will stay with you, and would you really want your freshman fifteen to follow you around even after college?

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