The holidays are just around the corner, and you know what that means — ‘tis the season of INCREDIBLE food. We’re talking sweet treats, savory sensations, and an abundance of snacks. Sign us up!
Of course…there is another side to the holiday season. The relentless exam schedule, the abundance of end-of-year deadlines, and the rush to get everything in order to wrap up fall semester. Sometimes, even the fun things, like parties and family gatherings, can really fill up the calendar and eat into your free time.
With all the hustle and bustle of the season (not to mention the general reality of college life), it’s easy to fall out of your self-care routine and neglect your nutritional needs. We’re sharing our best tips for healthy eating throughout the holidays without compromising on budget or convenience — and we’re definitely not advising you to scrimp on the seasonal goodies either.
Make a plan.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent too much money on takeout because you had no idea what to eat for dinner. We’ve been there, too. It happens all the time: you forget or don’t have time to make a meal plan, you get hungry, you realize there’s nothing to eat at home, so you make a split-second decision to order food for the convenience.
The best way to avoid this kind of scenario is to plan ahead. Taking ten or twenty minutes at the start of your week to plan out your meals can save you time and money by making sure you’re never caught off guard by the “what do I have to eat” panic. It can take some time to adapt to planning your meals, but once you get into the habit, you’ll find that it simplifies your eating schedule and allows you to focus your energy and mental capacity on other priorities.
To kick off your meal planning, pick a day of the week that works well for you to sit down and schedule out your meals. Next, find a spot to keep your meal plan; this could be a planner, a dedicated whiteboard in your room, or a list on your phone. Write down what you’d like to eat that week, focusing on the meals that give you the most difficulty (maybe you like to eat the same breakfast every day but need to put more thought into what you’ll eat for dinners).
If your meal plan involves cooking at home, make sure to list out the ingredients you’ll need alongside your meals. Pro tip: meal planning day is also a great day to get your grocery shopping done! Dedicating a bit of time on one day can help make sure you’re set up for the rest of the week.
Do it in bulk.
Would you rather spend half an hour every night cooking dinner or one hour preparing dinner for the entire week? Cooking food in bulk can save you a lot of time. If you’re cooking a recipe, try doubling it to make the most of your efforts.
Another way to batch cook is picking an ingredient and making enough to last you through the week. This could be oatmeal, pasta, rice, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Then throughout the week, feel free to spice it up with a variety of produce, proteins, and sauces to add variety to your meals.
Utilize your tools.
As a college student, you don’t always have access to the most well-stocked kitchen. There are plenty of ways to get creative with the tools that you do have to create delicious and fulfilling meals.
Who needs a stove when you’ve got a microwave? Melt, boil, steam, cook, bake — the microwave is the OG multitasker in the kitchen. From muffins to stuffed potatoes, there’s an endless variety of meals you can cook right in your dorm. Here are some recipes to spark your creativity.
Your fridge can do more than store leftovers — although we’ll admit that’s a pretty important function. You can make a quick and tasty meal without using any heat. Check out these no-cook meals, ranging from sandwiches and wraps to salads and parfaits.
The unsung hero of the college kitchen. A well-stocked pantry will allow you to whip up a satisfying meal on a moment’s notice (not to mention the snacking potential). Here is a list of pantry essentials to get you started.
Add. Don’t take away.
Food is a celebration — especially during the holidays! Enjoy all of the seasonal treats while you can, but make sure that your plate is filled with a range of foods that will leave you feeling nourished. Ask yourself, what can I add to my plate to create a balanced meal?
If you’re running on Christmas cookies, try pairing them with yogurt to up the satiety factor (that oh-so-satisfying feeling after a good meal). Love a classic packet of ramen? Add an egg and some vegetables into the bowl to round out your meal. You’ll feel your best when your meals include foods from across the food pyramid.
Find support with Candid.
We’re always here to help. Joining Candid Circles can help you zone in on your wellness goals, including healthy eating. We hope these tips will help you skate through the holiday season, enjoying all the good food along the way!
Written by Abby Parr
Content Specialist, The Digital Ring