As a college student, you must learn to eat on a budget, but that does not restrict you only to ramen noodles and peanut butter from a jar. With planning, you can grocery-shop for nutritious and affordable food that will fuel your study sessions but not break the bank. A little cooking know-how will make you the culinary envy of your fellow students.
When making your grocery list, keep in mind what resources are available. If you have access to a refrigerator with a freezer, buy several bags of frozen vegetables; they are a fine alternative to fresh vegetables but are not as perishable. Microwave cooking can be an art, but you can cook potatoes, eggs, oatmeal and noodles in a microwave oven. With a toaster or toaster oven, you can crisp up homemade mini-pizzas made out of whole-wheat English muffins, jarred tomato sauce and low-fat cheese.
When shopping, stock up on the staples you will need for the week. Yogurt cups are convenient and portable and can provide 40 percent of your daily calcium needs. Buy different flavors to add variety to your menu. Also add Greek yogurt varieties, which have more protein than regular yogurt. A large loaf of bread can turn moldy before you finish it unless you refrigerate it -- and it may not fit in a small dorm refrigerator. Buy oatmeal instead, which is shelf-stable and easy to cook in a microwave oven.
If your only cooking tool is a microwave oven, you can still eat well with a little bit of planning. Buy foods that lend themselves to microwave cooking. You can wash and poke holes in a baking potato and microwave until soft. Microwave frozen broccoli and top your potato with broccoli, deli chicken breast and salsa for a healthy entree. Prepare a hot breakfast by scrambling and microwaving two eggs. Roll them in a flour tortilla with shredded cheddar and a handful of spinach leaves.
Ramen noodles are synonymous with college cooking. You can easily improve the nutritional profile of instant ramen. Throw away all or most of the seasoning packet and cook the noodles with a handful of frozen mixed vegetables. Add a can of salad shrimp to make a low-cal, vegetable shrimp soup, or substitute precooked, frozen sliced chicken breast for the shrimp. Remember to read the labels for frozen and canned proteins and choose the brand with the lowest amounts of sodium and additives.