There’s a lot to look forward to when heading off to college: the newfound sense of independence that comes with no longer living with your family; the ability to pursue the things you truly are interested in and not just being forced to take math classes because your high school told you to; the chance to explore new places, go on new adventures and try new things; and the opportunity to meet tons of people and make friends that you’ll cherish forever. But with freedom comes responsibility.
Luckily, there’s a way to enjoy quality homestyle meals while you’re in college. Here are a few things I learned my first year of college, so you don’t have to learn the hard way. Keep reading for my four tips on how to eat well, save money, live in a small space and have a good time in the process.
Tip #1: Eating well is easier than you think
Putting good food into your body in college is easier than you might anticipate. With the organic industry growing at such a quick pace, there are tons of options out there for college students to choose from, Amy’s Kitchen being one of them. Finding Amy’s meals my first year of college was a godsend for me. Amy’s was perfect for stocking up my dorm room mini fridge (Macaroni & Cheese was, and still is, my weakness). And it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure — Amy’s cooks delicious, meatless meals made with quality organic ingredients, so I know I’m putting good food into my body (and doing my best to avoid the notorious freshman 15). Amy’s also has options for all types of diets, including vegan, gluten free, dairy free, tree nut free and reduced sodium.
Supporting local farmers’ markets and buying seasonal produce is also a great way to continue to eat well while you’re in college; and oftentimes, it’s less expensive than buying produce at a grocery store. You can make a fun routine out of visiting farmers’ markets. Where I attend college, our local farmers’ market takes place every Saturday morning, and it was one of mine and my friends’ favorite weekend activities during our freshman year of college. We loved buying fresh, organic ingredients from the market and cooking up a meal all together in the communal dorm kitchen with the things we bought. Start with Amy’s Cheese Pizza from a nearby grocery store (click here to find which stores near your college carry Amy’s products). Pick up some fresh greens (I like organic arugula or spinach) and lemons at your local farmer’s market. Cook the pizza according to the directions on the box. Then, wash and place the greens on top of the cooked pizza and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over it. You’re guaranteed to make some friends with that yummy (and simple!) recipe.
Tip #2: Organic ingredients don’t have to empty your wallet
You’ll learn very quickly that money can get tight during your freshman year of college. It’s always tempting to settle for fast food or take out rather than preparing a meal for yourself. Try your best not to give in to the temptation since those eating out trips will quickly add up, trust me. When you find yourself getting sick of your university’s dining hall food, treat yourself to something that reminds you of a tasty homestyle meal but doesn’t break the bank: Amy’s meals are both inexpensive and made with love. Some of my favorites are Amy’s Pad Thai, Broccoli & Cheddar Bake Bowl and Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup. You can pick up some Amy’s on your next grocery store run, and you can even get some to share for your next study session with your friends. Making friends is easy when you bring Amy’s along to share. All you need is a microwave and you’ve got yourself that homemade taste on a college student budget.
Tip #3: No kitchen, no problem
During my first year in college I had to share a mini fridge with two roommates. It was difficult (to say the least) but doable. It’s important to buy only what you need and make sure what you’re buying won’t take up too much space. Luckily, Amy’s products can be easily stacked and stored away. I recommend stashing lots of Amy’s Burritos and Wraps in your freezer (see all your options here) since they don’t take up much room and are great for eating on-the-go between classes. If you’re looking for inspiration on recipes you can make in your dorm room, check out these Microwave Nachos with Amy’s Chili and Salsa and this Microwave Brownie in a Mug topped with Amy’s Candy crumbles—both recipes are made in the microwave with six ingredients or less.
Tip #4: Find your college family
One of the best parts about going off to college is the people you meet and the friends you make along the way. Some of my best friends today were fellow students I met during my first year of college. Finding a college family with similar interests — like eating well, getting outside in nature and, of course, saving money — was one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects of my freshman year. Like Amy’s, where love, care and kindness are at the heart of everything they do, I highly suggest creating your own community while you’re in college. Get involved in clubs, participate in student government, write for the student newspaper, take part in intramural sports teams, do community service or join a sorority or fraternity.