Finals are approaching, which means long hours in the library and little time for anything else. Often when you’re busy studying, one of the first things to go is your eating habits. Stress eating and quick bites to eat in between hours of work replace wholesome meals. Today I want to share some tips for how to eat healthy during finals without breaking the bank.
1. Stock up!
You know you’re not going to have time to shop during finals. Be realistic with yourself and stock up on snacks and meal supplies beforehand. That way you’re more likely to head to the pantry, not the convenience store, when you’re feeling hungry.
I’m personally a huge fan of stocking up on healthier frozen meals like Lean Cuisines. I know they’re high in sodium and not perfect, but they’re cheaper than eating out and give you some semblance of a well-rounded meal. But if you are buying frozen meals…
2. Pair frozen with fresh.
As I mentioned, frozen meals aren’t exactly the best. Often the vegetables have lost a lot of their pizzazz and nutrients, and sometimes there aren’t any veggies to begin with. But if this is your option of choice, you can definitely make them a wholesome meal. When I buy frozen meals, I pair them with something fresh, like some grape tomatoes and low-cal ranch dressing, or blueberries and yogurt.
Pairing frozen meals with fresh sides like fruit, veggies, or yogurt will enrich a frozen meal and leave you more full and satisfied. If you’re cooking…
3. Chop once, use twice.
If you do find some pockets of spare time to cook, use it effectively. Try to plan for recipes that will use similar ingredients, and prep those ingredients ahead of time. If you’re making two recipes that both call for chopped onion, chop the whole onion at once and put what you don’t use the first time aside for later. You’ll save time and you’ll be more likely to cook later if you’re already halfway prepped.
4. Cook once, eat twice.
This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s a lifesaver. Cooking a portion that can be eaten for more than one meal is one of the keys to avoiding the impulse to binge on junk or go out. Stick to things like pasta that can be easily reheated and still taste good the next day.
5. Shop for healthy snacks.
I know I can be an emotional eater. Sometimes I’m compelled to snack when I’m stressed, and this is only exacerbated by finals time. Knowing this about myself, I stock up on healthy snacks that I won’t feel too guilty if I stress-eat. I allow myself to get a bar of good dark chocolate, and that’s it. Otherwise I only buy healthy. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it! If you’re like me, or just know you like to graze, pick up some low-calorie snacks you won’t feel guilty about.
Some of my favorite low-cal snacks include:
- Reduced fat Wheat Thins with peanut butter/hummus/Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter
- Kashi granola bars (a little high in sugar, be warned)
- Anything Skinny Cow (I like the Dreamy Clusters)
- Veggies with low-cal ranch dressing
6. Prepare to splurge.
All of the above tips sound pretty good, but, you think, what if I get sick of healthy? What if I just want something I shouldn’t have?
Prepare for that too. In addition to your healthy snacks from above, pick up a few special snacks to satisfy your cravings.
Instead of going out for Starbucks (which I’m known to do much too often), I have recently started buying Starbucks’ Iced Coffee at the grocery store. A pack of four is like $6 or so, which is way cheaper apiece than going to Starbucks. The packaged Frappucinos are also a good deal, although those are obviously a little worse for you.
I also pre-mix the batter for Chocolate Covered Katie’s One-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug. This is AMAZING. If you haven’t tried it, go out and buy the ingredients right this minute. It is so good for you and tastes like something you’d get for 1,000 calories at a restaurant. And it’s vegan!
I like to mix the dry ingredients and put the mixture in a plastic baggie, so that when I’m craving dessert, I can quickly add the dry stuff and throw it in the microwave.
If you anticipate your cravings and prepare for them, you’ll save money and save the time you’d spend retrieving your chocolate/cookies/cake/whatever makes you happy.
How do you eat healthy when time is short? Have you tried Chocolate Covered Katie’s chocolate cake? (I need someone to fangirl over it with.)
Have a fabulous Monday!