Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Eating Healthy On the Cheap

Cheap, healthy food for the active person!
With both of us working closely with college athletes, who for the most part understand they have specialized nutritional needs compared to general population, they just struggle to satisfy those needs due to financial restrictions.  So how do we help them avoid a diet consisting of Raumen noodles, Mac n Cheese, Pizza and let’s face it, Beer?  When working with this demographic on trying to fuel them properly, it is important to focus on nutrient dense options that can be found at a reasonable price so they are getting a lot of nutritional bang for their lonely buck. With a little bit of planning ahead and some easy to make recipe options, this can be possible if the athletes are willing to put in the effort. 

The first step is to identify a list of foods that can be used for simple meal options and snacks that are easy to make, whether it is due to a lack of cooking skills or just limited cookware options (i.e. trying to make a meal with a hot plate and microwave in a dorm-room).  By no means does the list below consist of the perfect diet however it has a good variety of food options that will help to fulfill the energy requirements of most athletes, still taste good and more importantly won’t break the bank.  As a fail-safe recommendation I often suggest a multi-vitamin for college athletes as their diets typically fall short of essential vitamins & minerals and it’s a good idea to make sure they gets these micronutrients in some how.  This is just a general rule and not one that is mandatory for everyone.  So below we have included a quick grocery list for different food categories that can help identify cheaper food options that can be consumed as stand-alone snack options or quickly combined for meals.  At the bottom we also included some quick and easy meal templates for how to put together some of the food items listed below for meals. A lot of them can be tailored and adjust to your personal taste preferences.

Trail Mix (in bulk)

Potatoes / Sweet potatoes
Bread (100% Whole Wheat)
Granola (in bulk)
Milk (2% or whole)

Cheese (Add this to a lot of foods to increase calorie content)
Peanut Butter
Butter (Add this to a lot of foods to increase calorie content)
Oils (Olive & Coconut are best)
Milk (2% or whole)

See more below:

Proteins (Meat & Dairy)
Yogurt (Greek or whole fat)
Beans (Great option for high protein, high fiber food that is dirt cheap, especially dry beans)

Frozen Berries

*(Higher fat content (80/20) is okay here as it's cheaper, you get more fat & calories for a cheaper price which is perfect for shopping on a budget. In addition...fat is good for you!

Easy Recipes for College Athletes

o   Meat, Rice, Veggies of choice

o   Meat, beans, Veggies of choice  

o   Hamburger/Chicken, Tortillas, Cheese, Veggies of choice

o   Meat/Marinara Sauce + Noodles of choice + Vegetables of choice

o   Self-explanatory

o   Eggs and ANYHING you can think of + cheese

Vegetable Beef Stew
- Self-explanatory

Again, of course there are better food options and grocery lists out there just keep in mind this list of foods and recipes are tailored for the 20 yr old who is living on their own for the first time, doesn't know how to cook very well and has limited cooking supplies but also trains 2 hrs per day and may need to eat 4,000-6,000 calories per day!

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