College Athletes’ Guide to Nutrition on a Budget


For athletes in college on a budget while away from home for the first time this fall, consuming healthy foods and drinks can be difficult. This article provides tips for outfitting dorm rooms with inexpensive, nutritious, and sustainable items to support well-being, study, sports, and physical performance.

These foods and drinks are quick, easy to prepare ahead of time, and make great portable snacks between classes and workouts. But, while you pack your bags for college, be sure to bring these as well:

  • Can opener
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Blender
  • A cooking pot (if a stove is available)
  • Sieve (for example, for draining water from pasta, fish, beans or canned fruit in water).

Also important: dorms may or may not have refrigerators or freezers. Otherwise, purchasing a small inexpensive refrigerator with freezer is convenient and essential for storing perishable foods and extending the shelf life of the various foods listed below. And if there is a small kitchen and a stove in the dormitory, it is another advantage to make healthy drinks with long lasting expiration dates like green or black tea and instant coffee, or to make convenient hard-boiled eggs. and inexpensive, or cook frozen vegetables, potatoes, yams, dry pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, or farina (all of which appear in this article).

Purchase guidelines

Ideally, there is a food market nearby or on campus, instead of having dinner regularly in the campus cafeteria or at potentially more expensive local restaurants and not always offering desirable healthy menus. Instead, shopping at a grocery store gives athletes more control over purchasing the healthiest, most affordable foods and drinks. However, beware of the buyer:

  • Always check the expiration date of food / drink! Canned, packaged and frozen products generally have long-term best before dates (several months to a year from the date of purchase) compared to fresh fruits and vegetables, for example, which can perish in one or two. weeks.
  • Check the ingredients on the labels – generally, the fewer ingredients, the more natural the product without processed additives.

Unless you have food allergies, buy the following nutrient-dense foods and drinks:

High protein foods / drinks

  • Canned fish (eg tuna, salmon). Buy tuna or salmon packed in water rather than oil and drain the water and salt. Add heart-healthy olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and spices for flavor. Canned fish contains muscle building protein for muscle growth and recovery after workouts, games, and weight room practices, as well as omega-3 fatty oils that boost the immune system.
  • Canned beans. Like fish, beans are a good source of protein. Rich in dietary fiber, beans are also beneficial for heart health. Like canned fish, rinse the beans and drain the added water and salt.
  • Powdered milk. Milk in cartons or bottles may spoil after a while and become sour. An alternative is long-lasting powdered milk – add cold water, stir and voila – either a refreshing glass of milk, pour it over cereal or toss with frozen fruit for a delicious smoothie. Powdered milk contains all the vitamins, minerals and bodybuilding proteins of bottled milk.
  • Ricotta cheese. Check the containers of ricotta cheese and see that this cheese is another good alternative to regular milk since the expiration date is stated for two to three months from the date of purchase. Ricotta cheese on frozen berries makes a delicious and nutritious dessert or snack. Buy a large container, refrigerate and take a few spoonfuls a day for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • String cheese. A wonderful portable snack that is rich in calcium, like ricotta cheese, is also good for building bones and muscles. Place a few in sandwich bags in the fridge and take them with you on your way to the gym or class.
  • Yogurt. This food, which strengthens the immune system and builds muscles, has an expiration date of a few weeks from the date of purchase. Greek yogurt generally has a higher protein content.
  • Nuts and seeds. Packed with essential fats and certain proteins, nuts and seeds are also heart-healthy and high in fiber. Store in a cool place to avoid rancidity. Accompanied by dried fruits (e.g. raisins, prunes), nuts and seeds make a great energizing snack before or after training or for protein / carbohydrate recovery: place nuts, seeds and dried fruits in sandwich bags for a quick bite to eat, for example.
  • Hard boiled eggs. Refrigerated eggs have a long expiration date marked on the carton (usually more than a month from the date of purchase). They are inexpensive and sold in cartons of 6, 12, 18 or even 24. Place a dozen eggs in a saucepan filled with water, boil, cool, refrigerate and consume one or two a day for one. another practical muscle building. to take away, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Carbohydrate energizing foods

  • Dried fruit. Raisins, prunes, and dried apricots, for example, last a few months in the refrigerator and are great portable, convenient energy-boosting snacks rich in vitamins and minerals, paired with cheese, nuts or seeds, or topped with cereal. whole grain.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh fruits, but can be stored in the freezer for a few months. Open a bag of frozen berries, for example, and take out a few, thaw them in the fridge overnight and have them for breakfast or place them in the blender for a smoothie. The same goes for frozen vegetables – thaw part of the bag and have it for lunch or dinner.
  • Canned fruits (eg, peaches, pineapples). Store them in the cupboard for a year or more from the date of purchase, and buy canned fruit in their own juice – unprocessed with syrup or added sugar.
  • Wholemeal bread and cereals. Freeze a loaf of whole grain bread, thaw a few slices every few days, and make a sandwich or toast. Whole grain cereals like oatmeal and flour will keep for several months in a cool, dark place (cupboard). Mix powdered milk and water, boil and combine with oatmeal or flour for breakfast or as a bedtime snack.
  • Quinoa. This high protein and fiber grain is an underrated and rare food (compared to oatmeal or more popular flour) with a long shelf life. Boil and have as a cereal or side dish for dinner, for example.
  • Brown rice. Higher in fiber than white rice, boil a cup of brown rice for a hearty side dish or add beans and peas for a great protein / carb meal.
  • Pasta. Dry pasta will keep for up to a year in the cupboard. Buy whole grain or whole wheat pasta for more variety and better nutrition.
  • Canned tomato sauce. Heat and serve over pasta.
  • Potatoes and yams. Store them in a cool, dark place, and these nutrient-dense staples should last up to two weeks.

Healthy drinks

  • The water. Whether bottled or straight from the tap, water is the number one drink for athletes and non-athletes for maintaining hydration, cooking or making other healthy beverages such as black or green tea or coffee. instantaneous. Store bottled water packs in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  • Black and green tea and instant coffee. Canned black and green tea bags and instant coffee containers last for several months in a cabinet. Each contains natural, heart-healthy anti-inflammatory antioxidants to help reduce muscle and joint pain and inflammation caused by intense workouts and sports.

Beneficial condiments

  • Mustard. Refrigerate and top with hard-boiled eggs or make a dressing with lemon juice and olive oil for salads or vegetables.
  • Lemons and limes. Usually refrigerate well for up to two weeks, cut them up and squeeze them in water or tea for added flavor, or make a dressing with olive oil as mentioned earlier for salads or on top of canned fish.
  • Olive oil. This heart-healthy bottled oil lasts a month or more in a cool, dark place and is useful for baking or on salads and vegetables.
  • Bottled herbs and spices. Store bottled herbs rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like parsley, basil, oregano, garlic and onion powder, powdered ginger, and spices like cinnamon, black pepper, and flakes of crushed red chili peppers in a dark cool cabinet for food seasoning.
  • Salt. For several months, use sparingly and season lightly on foods for added flavor. Salt is also useful for medicinal purposes. An ancient remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with salt mixed with lukewarm water several times a day and relieve annoying dry coughs.
  • The vinegar. Store red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for several months in the cabinet and use in salads or baking.

Follow these food and drink suggestions and two additional wellness guidelines: Regularly aim for 8-10 hours of to sleep and systematically exercise to promote mental and physical academic and athletic performance during your college years.

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