7 easy, affordable nutrition hacks

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to a thriving college experience. The food you eat can affect your mood, energy levels, alertness, sleep and many other important body functions.

If you know you want to eat healthier without breaking the bank, start small by making one or two simple changes to your nutrition habits.

Need ideas on where to start? Try these suggestions from Ralph Ovonlen, the University Health Center registered dietitian:

  1. Have healthy snacks on hand in your dorm for days you can’t make it to the dining centers. Things like sweet potatoes or frozen veggies that you can microwave, peanut butter and whole wheat bread, fresh fruit, etc., are good to have nearby as a snack or a full meal.
  2. Eat a side salad with your lunch and dinner. If you have a dining plan, swing by the salad station and fill up a small plate with lettuce or spinach and other healthy veggies. If you do not have a dining plan, buy a bag of lettuce or multicolor salad mix and start incorporating it into your nutrition routine. It’s a quick, easy way to ensure you’re eating veggies every day.  
  3. Go in on a Sam’s Club or Costco membership with other students. Wholesale grocery stores offer healthy foods like produce and meat in bulk. If you split the membership with a friend or two, it is more cost efficient. You could consider sharing the bulk foods you buy to save even more money. 
  4. Pick one meal to prepare in advance for the week ahead. Choose either breakfast, lunch or dinner and select a recipe that you can cook over the weekend and reheat throughout the week. It will help you reach your nutrition goals, save on cooking time so that you can enjoy other activities and potentially save money if you typically go out to eat for that meal during the week.
  5. Buy a microwavable steamer. This is essential if you want to cook veggies or fish in your dorm room. Steamers typically cost anywhere from $10 to $20, depending on the size and type. You can purchase them in most home supply stores or online, like this one on Amazon.
  6. Invest in a sturdy, high-quality, reusable water bottle. Not only will it help you meet your water intake goals, but it can also save you money if you replace pop, juice or coffee with water. Some water bottles, like this one, have markings on the side to help you track the amount of water your drink and remind you to drink throughout the day.
  7. If you struggle with food insecurities, consider using the Husker Pantry. This on-campus resource is located on the first floor of the University Health Center, room 123, and provides a one-stop location to assist with food, hygiene items and school supplies.

For more tips and tricks like this, schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with the University Health Center registered dietitian. Your first nutrition counseling visit is no cost if you pay student fees. Call 402.472.5000 to schedule.