There's never enough time in the day, is there? Especially when you're a busy college student trying to juggle classes, homework, and social life. On top of that, you have to find time to eat!
That's why we've put together this list of easy lunches and snacks you can take on the go. So whether you're running from class to class or stuck in a library studying for finals, you'll always have something delicious (and nutritious) to snack on. Enjoy!
1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
This sandwich is classy for a reason. It's filling, easy to make, and you can customize it with different types of bread and nut butter. Plus, it will bring you back to your childhood.
But since college is all about trying new things, don't be afraid to experiment with your PB&J. Add sliced bananas or chocolate chips to the mix, or switch out the jelly for Nutella. There are endless possibilities.
Bonus tip: Wheat bread is more filling than white bread, so it's a better option if you're looking for something to hold you over until dinner.
2. Hummus and Veggies
Hummus is a great source of protein and fiber, both of which will help you stay full until your next meal. Plus, it's a delicious dip for just about anything.
Freshly cut veggies such as carrots, celery, and cucumbers are all great options to dip in hummus. And if you're feeling extra hungry, add some whole grain crackers or pretzels to the mix.
3. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
This meal is perfect if you want something sweet but not too heavy. Start with a layer of yogurt, then add some fresh fruit and granola on top.
For the fruit, berries are always a good option because they're low in sugar. But feel free to use whatever is in season or looks good at the store.
Bonus tip: Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, so it will help you stay full longer.
4. Turkey Wrap
This wrap is similar to a PB&J but with a few twists. First, swap out the peanut butter for hummus or avocado. Then, add some shredded cheese, lettuce, and tomato. And finally, roll it all up in a whole wheat tortilla.
If you're not a fan of turkey, you can use chicken or any other type of deli meat. Just watch your portion size, as meat can be high in calories and fat.
Salads are perhaps the easiest and most versatile meal on this list. You can put anything you want in them, making them a great way to use up any leftover veggies or protein you have in your fridge.
Not sure what to put in your salad? Start with a base of greens, then add some chopped veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and protein. And don't forget the dressing. A simple vinaigrette made with olive oil and vinegar is always a good option.
Bonus tip: Kale and other dark, leafy greens are more nutrient-dense than iceberg lettuce, so try to use them as the base of your salad.
Like wraps, sandwiches are easy to make and can be customized to your liking. Start with two slices of bread, then add your favorite condiments, meats, cheeses, and veggies.
Some college students' favorite combinations include ham and cheese, tuna, bacon, meatball, pulled pork, Reuben, and french dip. But again, feel free to get creative with your ingredients.
Bonus tip: If you're trying to save money, make your sandwich at home and bring it with you to campus. That way, you won't have to spend money on expensive deli meat or bread.
Grains like oatmeal are packed with fiber and nutrients, making them a great choice for a quick and healthy snack. Cook up a batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and portion it into individual containers. Then, when you're feeling snacky, just grab a container and go.
You can add whatever toppings you like to your oatmeal, but some favorites are fresh fruit, chopped nuts, or a dollop of peanut butter. Syrups and honey are also good options if you want something sweet.
8. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are light and airy snacks that are perfect for when you're on the go. They come in various flavors, so you can always find one that fits your mood.
Topping ideas for rice cakes include peanut butter, Nutella, cheese, yogurt, and fruit. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try making a savory rice cake with avocado, egg, and sriracha.
9. Protein Bars
Protein bars are another great option for on-the-go snacking. They come in various flavors and can be easily thrown into a bag or purse. Just read the nutrition label before you buy, as some bars can be high in sugar and calories.
Don't like the taste of protein bars? Plenty of healthy snacks come in bar form, like granola bars, Larabars, and Kind bars.
10. Bagel with Cream Cheese
Bagels are a great on-the-go snack because they're easy to eat and filling. To make them more nutritious, top them with some protein-rich cream cheese.
For the best bagel experience, store them in a baggie with a moist paper towel. Avoid toasting them ahead of time, as this will make them tougher to eat on the go. You can also freeze them for up to two months. Just cut them in half before you do for easier thawing and snacking.
11. Mason Jar Salad
Mason jar salads are a great way to pack a nutritious lunch that you can eat on the go. Simply layer your favorite salad ingredients in a jar, starting with the dressing at the bottom.
Use sturdy ingredients like hard-boiled eggs, diced chicken, or roasted vegetables for the tastiest results. They will help prevent your salad from getting soggy. And if you're using greens, pack them tightly so they don't wilt.
12. Vegetable Wrap
Wraps are another easy snack that you can make ahead of time. Fill a whole wheat tortilla with your favorite veggies, then add a protein like chicken, tofu, or beans. You can also add some condiments for extra flavor.
If you're short on time, you can buy pre-made veggie wraps at the grocery store. Just make sure to look for ones that are low in sugar and calories.
13. Hard-boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein. They're readily available and easy to eat on the go. You can also add them to other snacks, like wraps or salads.
To make hard-boiled eggs, place them in a pot of boiling water and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once they're cooled, peel off the shell and enjoy.
14. Yogurt and Granola
Yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium, and granola provides whole grains and fiber. Top yogurt with granola and fruit for a balanced breakfast or snack.
But if you're buying yogurt at the store, check the nutrition label. Some yogurts can be high in sugar, so it's best to choose one low in sugar and calories. They can also be high in fat, so opt for non-fat or low-fat yogurts when possible.
15. Trail Mix
Famous for the right reasons, trail mix is an excellent snack because it contains various nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and fiber. It will help keep you full between meals, and it's easy to make your mix with your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate chips.
To make your own, mix together 1/2 cup nuts or seeds of your choice, 1/4 cup dried fruit, and 1 tbsp chocolate chips. You can add a pinch of salt if you like, but it's unnecessary. This mix will store in a resealable bag or container for up to 2 weeks.
16. Fresh Fruits
You can't go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they're low in calories and easy to eat on the go.
If you're looking for a quick snack, grab a piece of fruit like an apple, orange, or banana. Or, pack some carrot sticks or celery for a crunchy snack that you can eat without utensils.
17. Almond and Apples
This is a great snack for when you're on the go and need something to tide you over until your next meal. Almonds are packed with healthy fats and protein, while apples are a good source of fiber.
To make this snack, chop an apple into small pieces and mix it with 1/4 cup of almonds. You can also add a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor. This mix will store in a resealable bag or container for up to 2 weeks.
18. Green Juice
Green juice is a great way to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. It's also low in calories and easy to drink on the go. You only need a blender and some fresh produce to make your own green juice.
To make, blend together 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cucumber, 1 apple, 1/2 lime, and 1 cup water. You can also add a piece of ginger if you like. Drink this juice immediately or store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
19. Chicken Wrap
There are hundreds of ways to make a chicken wrap, but college students' favorite is probably the buffalo chicken wrap. It is easy to make and can be tailored to your liking. Just take a wrap, and fill it with shredded chicken, diced celery, crumbled blue cheese, and your favorite hot sauce.
20. Taco Salad in a Jar
Because this meal doesn't require cooking, it is perfect for the college student on the go. All you need is a mason jar, some chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, black beans, shredded cheese, and your favorite salad dressing. Simply layer the ingredients in the jar in the order listed, and you're good to go.
You can also add shredded chicken breast or ground beef to this dish to make it a little heartier. If you're short on time, you can even buy pre-made salad kits at the grocery store.
21. Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce
This is a healthier alternative to regular spaghetti and can be just as filling. Spaghetti squash is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C, while tomato sauce is a good source of lycopene, a phytonutrient that has been linked to several health benefits.
To make this dish, cook the spaghetti squash according to the instructions. Once it's cooked, top it with your favorite tomato sauce and enjoy.
Try making your own sushi if you're in the mood for something a little fancier. It's actually not as hard as it looks, and you can customize it to your liking. All you need is a sheet of nori seaweed, sushi rice, and your favorite fillings.
Common sushi fillings include fish, vegetables, crab sticks, and eggs. To make sushi, place the fillings of your choice on a sheet of nori, and roll it up into a log shape. Cut the log into small pieces and enjoy.
How to Eat Healthy in College Without Going Broke
Eating healthy in college doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, with a little planning and creativity, you can eat healthy on a budget.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Plan your meals in advance. It will help you save money by avoiding last-minute purchases and restaurants.
- Cook in bulk. When you have the time, cook large meals that can be frozen and reheated later.
- Shop the sales. Keep an eye out for deals on healthy food items, and stock up when you can.
- Get creative with leftovers. Use them to create new and exciting dishes. Don't let them go to waste.
- Choose simple recipes. Complex ones with lots of ingredients can be expensive and time-consuming. Choose simple recipes that use inexpensive ingredients.
- Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are often unhealthy and expensive. Stick to fresh, whole foods whenever possible.
- Grow your own food. If you have the space, consider growing your own fruits and vegetables. It's a great way to save money and eat healthily.
- Buy in season. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually cheaper and tastier than out-of-season options.
- Eat at home. Eating out can be expensive and unhealthy. Make a point to eat most of your meals at home.
- Make healthy snacks. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This way, you'll be less likely to indulge in unhealthy junk food when you're feeling hungry.
Eating healthy in college doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. By following these tips, you can make healthy eating a part of your college lifestyle.