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Yes, You CAN Afford Healthy Food In College

“I want to eat better food, but I just can’t afford it dude.”

I hear this one a lot. A lot of students think they can’t eat healthy in college because it’s too expensive.

In a way, this could be true. When you look at a lot of paleo dieting guidelines, you read things like:

  • “Buy only grass-finished beef from a local supplier.”
  • “Only eat wild-caught fish. Farmed fish will melt your insides and you’ll never find true love.”
  • “All of your produce needs to be organic.”
  • “If you’re going to eat butter, it has to be grass-fed butter that you buy from an Amish farm in person.”
  • “Buy Bazooka-Proof coffee dude, it’s made in Chili and has 800% less toxins than Starbucks.”

If you’re dead set on following all of this advice, then heck yes it’s going to get expensive! Fresh-caught fish and grass-fed beef alone would obliterate anything you make working a part-time job in no time.

However, none of these things are absolutely necessary to be healthy. Can they be beneficial? Of course. There’s lots of science and Omega-3/Omega-6 charts and bloggers named Denise who can back a lot of it up. Still, you’re out to do good, not be perfect. Simply eating good food like chicken, lots of veggies, fruits, rice, and other things will get you 95% of the way there. You can worry about the other 5% when you’ve graduated and are making the big bucks 😉

Now, when you look at the cost of buying “normal” healthy food, the argument that students can’t afford to eat well doesn’t really hold water. Check it.

During this summer, I took the time to sit down and calculate the cost of all the components that go into my stir fry recipe. The grand total? About $3.50 a meal.

Want to learn how to make my awesome stir-fry? Here’s a guide:

Now, let’s compare that price to some other common things that college students typically consume:

  • Per-meal cost of a meal plan: $6.50 – $8.50 (depending on how big the meal plan is)
  • McDonald’s meal: ~$6
  • Jimmy John’s meal: ~$7
  • A night out at the bar: $10-$20
  • Mocha frap: $4 (this is a drink that costs more than a good meal… and you buy it every day, don’t you?)
  • Ramen: $0.10 – Ok, you got me on this one. But if you’re eating ramen for every meal, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about…

As you can see, making a healthy meal costs a lot less than some other common college meals. Plus – regardless of the cost – shouldn’t you be willing to spend what it takes to keep your body in shape? It’s the most precious physical possession you have!

Update: Jordan Syatt, a fellow blogger, college student, and powerlifter, sent me his free ebook on grocery shopping in college. I was so impressed by it that I had to mention it here. So if you’re looking for a good shopping guide, check it out!