I’m not a foodie, nor a diet/healthy eating blogger, but as frugality blogger and busy student, I still have to eat. I wish I had more time to think about food, but the busier I get, the less I am able to fuss over it: buying it, preparing it, lugging it around to eat when famished.
If you’re like me, when times get busy it’s nearly impossible to get to the store regularly to buy fresh fruits and veggies that will bruise and ruin in your bag all day, much less eat them before they go bad in the veggie drawer of the fridge.
When you’re busy (and especially, stressed) it’s the most important time to load up on healthy foods that will give you energy and boost your immunity.
Here are my tips and tricks to eat healthy when you’re busy and broke:
Your Healthy Eating (long shelf life) Stock Pile:
Nut mixes. I know it’s tempting to get trail mix with M&Ms, but avoid any mixes with high sugar or salt content. Save the “indulgent” mixes for dessert or a high powered occasional snack. My favorite mix is the raw nut mix from Trader Joes….I was worried I wouldn’t like raw, but I actually prefer the flavor!
Dried fruit is always an option. If you’re too busy and are sick of nectarines making a mess in your work bag, go for dried fruit. Branch out beyond apricots and banana chips to explore dehydrated persimmons, white peaches and add dehydrated strawberries to your morning cereal.
Oatmeal. Long shelf life, good flavors and easy to eat on the go. Throw a packet in your bag and just add hot water or milk in a coffee cup at work and you’re set. Extra Frugal Tip: Buy the plain oats in bulk, and premeasure single servings into ziploc bags or tuppers. Add your own dried fruits, brown sugar or cinnamon so all you have to do is add water and it’s already measured!
Canned tuna. Albacore is good for you. I will sometimes just crack open a can to top on my salad or eat on its own just for simple protein. Don’t feel obligated to make an elaborate tuna salad sandwich…just open the can, drain the water and go for it.
Frozen veggies and chicken. One of my best quick-recipes is soup. Keep broth mix on hand, throw it in a pot with frozen veggies, chicken and rice or noodles, let it simmer while you study and in a few hours, you have an easy one-pot meal.
Tofu. Tofu has a long shelf life and is great in stir frys. It’s low in fat, high in protein and can absorb flavor when marinated. If you’re planning a busy week (or month!) ahead. Get tofu, frozen stir fry veggies and some teriyaki sauce that will stay good for weeks if you’re too busy to cook it.
Dried grains and beans. Simmer grains and beans in a broth while you study or do laundry to make hearty stews, soups and casseroles. They have a looonnnggg shelf life and really fill you up!
…Supplement any of these with fresh fruits and veggies when you can, but when you can’t get to the store or worry you won’t consume the fresh stuff in time, this is a great option!
Other tricks I’ve picked up:
A crock pot is your friend. You can get them cheap at the thrift store and throw in some veggies, broth and chicken to have a tasty stew when you get home with little or no fuss.
Brew your own tea and mix your own lemonade. If you find you spend a lot of beverages, brew your drinks in bulk. I put some water in my coffee maker and brew green tea that way. I then add some sugar in a large pitcher and chill the tea in the fridge. Crystal light is also cheap and easy to make!
Investing in tuppers based on sizes you typically buy single serving snacks of. Apple sauce, pudding and yogurt doesn’t have to be purchased in single servings. Buy a large jar and bring a small tupper of it in your lunch (much, much cheaper!)
Buy in bulk & Compare. NuttyGuys.com has a great selection and offers fair prices. I’ve also had luck at Trader Joe’s if you have one in your area. Know that many chain supermarkets usually charge more for these types of items so shop around!
Feel free to read part two of How To Eat Healthy For Cheap.