Some students think that being healthy is impossible on a college budget. Wrong. We’re here to tell you where to get your hungry hands on the finest fruits, vegetables, and meat without deep-sixing your debit card. With a little thrift, you can have a balanced diet on the cheap. Get all your nutrients now and kill them with alcohol later.
Flax Seed Tempeh
at Whole Foods and Earth Fare ($3)
Forget tofu. Tempeh is where it’s at. Providing almost 50 percent of your recommended fiber intake to keep your system moving, tempeh is a great meat substitute that is also packed with protein. Plus, if you buy the kind with milled flax seeds, it supplies your body with tons of Omega-3 fatty acids that contribute enormously to heart health, tissue growth, and overall well-being. Make sure you marinate it for a few minutes in soy or teriyaki sauce before putting it on the frying pan, or it won’t taste like much. (We like to use Soy Vay Island Soyaki.) Half a pack is enough to fill you up for one meal.
Portobello Mushroom Cap
Portobello Mushrooms may cost around $3 a pound, but they’re lightweight. Tear off the stem before going to check out (no one likes to eat that chewy stuff anyway), and it will cost even less. The cap can take the place of meat for a great mushroom sandwich. You can try the same technique with broccoli and have someone in the store cut off most of the stalk before you buy it.
Half Sandwich and Salad
at Five Loaves Café
This is one of the best lunch deals in town at $7.50. You can get great gourmet sandwiches on homemade, toasted multigrain bread and salads loaded with veggies and fat- or oil-free dressings. With inventive specials every day, Five Loaves has an amazing variety of soups (gotta be careful what’s in them, some are loaded with cream), salads, and sandwiches made with quality ingredients.
All Natural Chicken Breast
at Earth Fare
You have to be careful eating any type of animal product these days. It doesn’t have to be organic, but making sure that the meat you eat is antibiotic- and hormone-free is a wise move. Buying prepackaged chicken can get expensive, but if you buy Earth Fare’s brand of chicken breast ($5.50 per pound), you can get a single slab of all-natural local chicken for a little over two bucks. It’s often on sale, too.
Produce at the Farmer’s Market
We cannot stress to you enough how wonderful it is to go to a school where you can find local produce every Saturday morning sold for such cheap prices. Blueberries, peppers, sweet corn, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, you name it. Not only do you save tons of money (each vegetable ends up costing about a dollar a piece), shopping at the farmer’s market also helps support local farmers. The produce is great, if not better than what you’d find at grocery stores, and requires fewer chemicals because they don’t have to ship it far. Plus, it’s pretty damn fun waking up after a long Friday night to endless samples and a banjo band.
The Vegetable Bin
If you sleep through the Farmer’s Market, the Vegetable Bin right next to the Harris Teeter on East Bay is a great place to find local produce at similar prices. The place may look like a defunct hardware store, but during the summer months, when fruits and vegetables are at their peak, the Vegetable Bin is filled with awesome goodies and a country vibe.
Free Range Eggs at Whole Foods
Buy the free-range eggs. Just do it. When you look at the cost per egg, it doesn’t end up being that much money. Try cooking omelettes as a way to hold together all your veggies or make a hole-in-one for a late night snack. Go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods and get their brand.
Cascade Fresh Yogurt
Nutritionists love to prescribe people yogurt. And because it’s one of the best natural sources of probiotics (the friendly intestinal flora that fight off bad bacteria from years of junk food binges), even the lactose intolerant can enjoy it. We like the Cascade Fresh brand ($.89 each). It’s the only yogurt with eight different types of probiotics, and it isn’t loaded with all the corn syrup crap that the big brands stuff in their cups. Cascade Fresh is sweetened with natural fruit juices only.
You don’t have to use expensive oil to sauté food. Use vegetable broth instead; it’s healthy and cheaper. Add one tablespoon of broth to a frying pan over medium heat. Once it begins to sizzle, add some diced onion (which releases its own natural oil), and stir. Then put in whatever you want. The stuff won’t stick.
The Muthaship at the Daily Dose ($11)
This monstrous wrap may cost you more than a 10 spot, but it is easily big enough to split with another person or last you for two meals. Loaded with 11 different hearty vegetarian ingredients like rice, beans, avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, and salsa, it’s the biggest, most delicious burrito-inspired wrap we’ve ever eaten.