Health on a college budget

Published 4:28 pm Saturday, August 4, 2012

Now that it is August, the big search for college dorm room supplies is in full swing.

One thing that doesn’t have to leave the wallet empty is healthier food options. Eating better will leave you feeling better — not fatigued and unable to concentrate.

 In your dorm room

Your dorm room might have a microwave, mini-fridge and hot plate. Use them to make easy breakfasts and grab-and-go snacks that can help you save cash. Here are some quick and easy ideas:

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•Think ABCs: Apples, bananas and citrus are often the most inexpensive fruits at the store — and apples and citrus tend to last longer than other types of fruit.  Bananas can be frozen, then whirled in a blender for a quick and easy smoothie.

•Quick-cooking oats make a great breakfast in the microwave:  Just top with vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit and some granola — or try Unfrosted Mini Wheats dipped into low-fat yogurt.

•Look for lower-sodium soups to warm in the microwave. Anything less than 500 mg can be a healthier choice when combined with whole grain crackers (Triscuit-style), a fruit cup and a piece of string cheese.

•Looking for quick sources of protein? Try nuts, string cheese, tuna in a pouch, peanut butter and beans in a can.

Use the beans to make a quick and easy quesadilla in the microwave with whole grain tortillas, cheese, salsa and drained black beans. Mix up your own snack mix including mini crackers, raisins, almonds or peanuts and chocolate bits for an energizing snack.

•If you find yourself throwing away fresh milk that is past its “use by” date, buy nonfat dry milk instead. It costs less and lasts longer — or buy small containers of perishable foods like milk and yogurt.

 In your apartment kitchen

If you know where to shop and what foods to buy, you can save a lot of money by cooking in your apartment.

Here are some tips to get you started:

•If you’re lucky enough to go to college close to a Hy-Vee store, check our ads and coupons to save money.

If you are not near a Hy-Vee, then discount supermarkets are an option — or again check sales and coupons.

•Bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store every time you shop. Many stores offer discounts to customers who provide their own bags.

•To manage your time wisely, set aside 10 minutes a week to write a shopping list.

Having a list with you at the market will also help you avoid impulse purchases.

Summer Garden Pita

Serves 4

*Prep time: 15 minutes

 All you need

•4 whole wheat pita pocket halves

•1⁄2 cup original hummus, divided

•1 Bartlett pear, thinly sliced and divided

•2 cups Hy-Vee spring lettuce mix, divided

•1⁄3 cucumber, sliced and divided

 All you do

1. Lay out pita pockets on a work surface and carefully open each one. Spread the inside of each half evenly with hummus.

2. Gently stuff pockets with pears, spring mix and cucumbers.

Nutrition facts per serving: 170 calories, 3g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 26g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 6g sugar, 6g protein.

Daily Values: 30% vitamin A, 8% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 10% iron.