It’s not easy to notice the proliferation of “health food mania” as it descends on the earth with an alarming rate. We humans are bombarded with enviable diet trends, food fads, instagramable vegan bowls, and the outlandish break-your-bank superfood cafes overtaking every major city. The worst part about it is that the health obsession is a costly one. Organic foods are 47% more expensive than their regular counterparts. Fresh vegetables are 10% more expensive and at a higher risk of spoilage or waste, then frozen or canned versions. A healthy diet can cost on average $1.50 or more a day, which for one person can be up to $600 or more a year, and that is only if you happen to be exceptional at budgeting.
Not only is a regular healthy diet costly, but it also requires a lot of plans and time — time that typically your average college student simply does not have. So the fall back? Mountains of pizza and 99 cent ramen packets become a way of life that seems inescapable.
But where there’s a will, there’s possibly a healthier way?
These expensive health trends can be detrimental for those that don’t know how to start their personal health journey. Eating healthy should be accessible to everyone, and these fads are only an expensive distraction to the simple changes anyone can make. So, for the sake of the masses of vegetable-neglecting college kids overdosing on sodium, I set out in search of an easy meal plan for those on-the-go individuals, that doesn’t max out your credit card. As a foodie myself, I have been experimenting with a multitude of “diets” for over 3 years. I have always been fascinated with cooking, food trends, overall health, and eliminating waste. Trying everything from veganism to the Whole30, I have developed and designed weekly meal plans that follow probably any diet you can think of. With this knowledge and a helpful hero complex, I have created a 5-day (tested and approved) meal plan that is guaranteed to leave you full and healthy for under $10 a day.
Mountains of pizza and 99 cent ramen packets become a way of life that seems inescapable
The 5-day meal plan consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and daily snacks. The diet contains all the main food groups (everything in moderation), but can be easily altered to accommodate any dietary restrictions (i.e. sub Gluten free bread for regular bread, sub water for whole milk, sub almond butter for peanut butter, ect.). All of the groceries have been purchased from Trader Joes because it is affordable and convenient. Prices are based off exactly the items purchased (generic brands/not organic) and any alterations will result in possible price differences.
Breakfast and lunch are mostly the same every day, although slight alterations can be made to make things interesting. Dinner rotates between different vegetables and lean proteins. In addition, I have provided simple Caloric and Protein content for each meal.
The total cost for the groceries came to $54.90. After subtracting any extra food Items that could be carried over into another week without perishing, the total came to $45.53. This kept my daily cost of groceries under my $10 goal, resulting in a whopping $9.11 food cost per day.
Regardless, even with this well structured meal plan, maintaining a healthy diet will never be easy. But I promise you that practice really does make perfect, if you overlook the terrible cliche.
Some other helpful tips in changing your eating habits for the better:
Eat your greens, try to cram at least one fresh vegetable into every main meal, lunch and dinner especially. The biggest problem with our unhealthy ways of eating is our aversion to leafy greens.
Stay away from CRAP. Stop eating fast food, quit binging on potato chips and chugging cola, and let go of your addiction to chocolate cake. The less you eat of refined sugary foods, the less dependency your body will have to them.
Plan some meals. Even if you can’t meal plan your entire week, try prepping your weekly lunch or dinner. It will actually save you more time, help you cut down on waste, and provide you with piece of mind knowing that you have easy access to a nice healthy meal at least once a day.
Try an App. you no longer need to flip through a massive cook book, or browse for hours on google for the best recipes. Download one of the thousand recipe apps and have quick and easy access to fast recipes and save them for later! (My fav app: Tasty)
|Breakfast||Oatmeal (Make w/ milk or water) and Peanut Butter, & 2 Eggs||Oatmeal w/ Peanut Butter, & 2 Eggs||Oatmeal w/ Peanut Butter, & 2 Eggs||Oatmeal w/ Peanut Butter, & 2 Eggs||Oatmeal w/ Peanut Butter, & 2 Eggs||656 cal, 29g protein|
|Lunch||Deli Turkey, Tomato, Romaine, Cheese, ½ Avocado, Whole Wheat Sandwich||Deli Turkey, Tomato, Romaine, Cheese, ½ Avocado, Whole Wheat Sandwich||Deli Turkey, Tomato, Romaine, Cheese, ½ Avocado, Whole Wheat Sandwich||Deli Turkey, Tomato, Romaine, Cheese, ½ Avocado, Whole Wheat Sandwich||Deli Turkey, Tomato, Romaine, Cheese, ½ Avocado, Whole Wheat Sandwich||426 cal, 24-25g protein
|Dinner||Chicken Breast w/ Broccoli||Salmon Burger w/ Broccoli||Chicken Breast w/ Sweet Potato & Black Beans||Salmon Burger w/ Sweet Potato||Chicken Breast w/ Sweet Potato, & Black Beans||300 to 600 cal, 30-60g protein|
|Snacks||apple, cashews||banana, cashews||apple, cashews||banana, cashews||apple, cashews||257 cal, 5g protein|