Advice on cheap, healthy eats

By Carmina Tiscareño 

New Media/Fashion Editor


College can be hectic for a student balancing coursework, a personal life and a job. Eating healthy is often set aside because it is out of a student’s budget, but walletfriendly recipes and affordable grocery stores exist.

Kathryn Martinez, Brookhaven College nutrition professor, said most students find it difficult to eat healthy because they do not plan ahead. Martinez said the combined time students spend on getting fast food is the same amount of time it takes to cook several meals for the rest of the week.

Students who regularly skip meals have trouble focusing in school, Martinez said. This happens because students have no fuel for their brains. Students may read a paragraph over and over or it may sound like their professor is mumbling through the lecture, when in reality, it is caused by the student’s brain.

“Students don’t think rationally when they are hungry,” Martinez said. “That’s one of the reasons why students don’t pick healthy snacks, such as carrots, and instead go for potato chips or burgers.” Martinez said students can pick one day of the week to make their meals. She said eating healthy is all about learning to balance foods while maintaining a nutrient-rich diet.

Students get a mixed perception that eating healthy is expensive, but she said foods like rice and beans do not cost much. She recommends students on a budget buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and take advantage of coupons.

Brookhaven nurse Mildred Kelley said budget-friendly grocery stores include Aldi, Sprouts and the 99 Cents Only Store. Kelley said students have to do a bit of shopping around for lower prices at grocery stores. She said she bought a gallon of milk, a big bag of pita chips and a big avocado for $3 on her first trip to at the 99 Cents Only Store.

“Students have to stay away from all the processed and packaged foods,” she said. She doesn’t recommend those foods for everyday consumption because they are not the healthiest options. Most processed foods have a lot of sodium, Kelley said. Frozen meats and dinners are some foods she said students should avoid.

Quick breakfast options include a banana with a bowl of oatmeal or cereal. She said: “[This breakfast] is fast, it’s healthy, if you pick the right cereal of course, and then you’re good to go.” She said students should look for cereals with less than 12 grams of sugar per serving. Homemade smoothies are also a good breakfast option.

For lunch, some options include a sandwich or foods that will not spoil inside a backpack. According to, 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter has 8 grams of protein.

For dinner, she said students can include spinach in their meals. Kelley said tuna, which is a great source of protein, or even salmon in a can, can be mixed with noodles. “Lentils, beans and peas are also good for you,” she said. Some snacks Kelley recommended include granola or nuts, such as almonds.

She said apples are easy snacks students can carry and eat between classes. Red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers with hummus is another snack option Kelley recommended. “Slice them up into a Ziploc bag and get a small container of hummus,” she said.

These snacks can help students stay full, keep their metabolism going and level out their blood sugar. “If you’re going to eat a candy bar or granola bar that has more sugar in it, then you’re going to get one of those sugar rushes where it peaks up your sugar and then it drops,” Kelley said. “Then you’re sagging and dragging, and you’re lethargic. That happens with higher sugar snacks.”

She said eating healthy has to be an individual’s priority, and it is never too late to start. She said eating healthy should be a lifelong behavior that students stick to.

Students can visit the American Heart Association’s website, heart. org, for healthy recipe ideas.