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Healthy eating options during school?


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Hi. I know this may be a silly question but what do you current students eat while in school? I currently live by myself and my place has no stove. Our PA building is off campus and has no cafeteria, and there is no point in dorming or investing in a meal plan either, so people usually bring food from home or buy food. I've been eating out for lunch and dinner for the last semester and am still doing it this semester, it's getting really costly and unhealthy. So I am just wondering if anyone has any advice. Thank you

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I was in a similar situation when I was in PA school.  I mostly stuck with chik-fil-a for lunch and ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with a fruit cup instead of fries.  Also working out a few times a week helped balance things out.  It takes some willpower to order the healthy thing on the menu though.

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Do you have a refrigerator and/or freezer?

 

Get a crock pot.  There are a ton of easy crock pot recipes out there.  Pick some that sound good to you.  Take a couple minutes in the morning on a weekend to throw some stuff in, turn it on and let it cook.  You can divide it into smaller portions to take for lunch/dinner and either freeze or refrigerate for later.  That way you have food for up to a week at a time (depending on what you cook and how you cook it).

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Do you have a refrigerator and/or freezer?

 

Get a crock pot.  There are a ton of easy crock pot recipes out there.  Pick some that sound good to you.  Take a couple minutes in the morning on a weekend to throw some stuff in, turn it on and let it cook.  You can divide it into smaller portions to take for lunch/dinner and either freeze or refrigerate for later.  That way you have food for up to a week at a time (depending on what you cook and how you cook it).

 

Solid advice. I throw some meat, potatoes and seasoning in and BAM I'm good to go for the new few days. If you need some ideas, just google "cheap crockpot meals". There's a ton on the web. My first semester I ate out wayyy too much but I've since toned that down with the crockpot. Also, you can't go wrong with PBJs. I probaly do a PBJ with some fruit and yogurt as least a couple of times a week. For breakfast, its usually a protein bar and my coffee. I have a keurig that really comes in handy for as well. At this point in my didactic year, I just see food as sustinace to get me through the day.

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Agree with the crock pot, esp if you can get one with a timer. Other good tips, a rice cooker/food steamer with a time delay like this: Aroma Rice Cooker and a 3 in 1 breakfast unit for coffee, baking and griddle . I hyperlinked both of those, but really you can set the crockpot and the rice cooker/steamer delayed time to be ready when you get home up to 15 hours later. And you can prep everything for breakfast the night before and have hot oatmeal and coffee ready before you are even out of the shower. It's not only cost effective but huge time savers!

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+1 to the crock-pot suggestions.  Also (assuming you have a refrigerator/freezer):

  • Make a week's worth of salad at once.  Spinach (if not torn/cut) and romaine lettuce seem to last the longest.  Carrots, red onions, and bell peppers keep well; cucumbers don't.  Using a mandolin slicer makes dicing extremely fast.
  • Get a George Foreman type grill.  They're cheap, easy to use and clean.
  • No-bake granola balls.  They're good mashed up with yogurt.  http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2013/08/no-bake-healthy-granola-bites.html
  • Sliced vegetables and hummus (more filling than traditional dip).

You may have to invest in an insulated lunch box and cold pack; it's not the worst thing in the world. 

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Costco has frozen grilled chicken strips that are pretty good. I used to throw them in a tupperware with salad and they would be thawed out for lunch.

 

With the supplies people mentioned above you should be able to do anything except bake something. If you get an induction cooktop, make sure you get the right kind of pans to go with it!

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Ad nauseum, but the Crockpot holds the power of the universe. Although I haven't officially started PA school yet, I've been working a busy 24-hour shift schedule and going to class, and I've managed to maintain something very close to paleo in my diet with the help of my beloved Crockpot. 

 

I also do a lot of veggie cook ups, where I steam or bake vegetables in large quantities and then keep them in the fridge for the week. That way, a simple salad or vegetable toss is never far away, and it helps take away that "I'm too tired to cook" excuse that I've used many, many times before. Well Fed: Paleo for People Who Like To Eat (found on Amazon), although paleo (and that might not be your style), has some great ideas on how to mix up the same base foods (simple grilled chicken, other meat, steamed vegetables) into something she calls "hot plates" with a variety of spices that really set them apart from each other. 

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Breakfasts

1. greek yogurt with fruit and high-fiber cereal mixed in

2. microwaved eggs (crack into bowl and microwave, either scrambled or not) with anything you want to add in like veggies or cheese. Can also make toast and turn the egg into a breakfast sandwich

3. protein shakes with fruits/spinach/kale and a liquid and protein powder made in a blender

 

Lunch

giant salad (like an entire head of romaine or bag of spinach) with whatever toppings. nuts, cheese, chopped up lunch meat, beans, lentils, sprouts

 

get creative with different varieties of cheese such as goat, brie, gouda, blue, cheddar and fruits/dried fruits/avocado on top

 

+/- things like the precooked bags of chicken strips from stores 

 

broccoli with cheese in the microwave. almost any veggie is good nuked and spiced like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots…these are also all good with dinner

 

Dinner

cheeses, crackers, meats to make a charcuterie plate

 

sandwiches/wrap sandwiches, carrots and dip, more eggs/protein shakes for dinner

 

nacho dinners by putting chips, cheese, salsa, veggies in the microwave

 

low-sodium canned soups…make 'em healthier/more filling by adding beans/lentils and cheese/lunchmeats/veggies

 

Snacks

nuts, cliff bars, fruits, ice cream if you have a freezer

 

…I have been eating basically the above plus meals out with friends ever since graduating college. It's too much hassle to cook for one, especially with the time constraints of PA school. Hope it gives you some ideas!

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I am 'just' a pre-nursing student right now with the goal of becoming a possible PA, but our basic nutrition textbook even recommends pb&j! The peanut butter gets constipating, though, for some of us.  I also buy the prepackaged lettuce or greens and have that .  

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I live in a similar situation and am able to stay on a pretty healthy diet using the aforementioned tools (crockpot, microwave, and plug-in stovetop burner). The plug-in stovetop burner I have is very slow, but I cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil and it works fine.

 

Also don't forget about nuts. Some are very cheap for the number of calories you get. Combine some peanuts with fruit and you have a healthy, no-prep meal with a good macronutrient balance.

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I cook enough for the whole week and pack everything up.

Usually I make a hearty soup or oatmeal with fruit/flaxseed for breakfast.

A rice or pasta dish for lunch.

Pineapple for snacking. Only $3 for a big fruit.

Sometimes-okay...often RAMEN for dinner!

 

My classmates, all athletic and pretty, eat salads, fruits and a small bit of protein. They also snack on a bunch of veggies with hummus.  

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I had a full kitchen during PA school and had no time to cook. So despite my full kitchen, I stuck with:

1. microwave

2. foreman grill

3. Crockpot (hallelujah whoever invented these)

4. electric kettle (you might prefer a coffee pot, I do tea)

 

 

To keep it healthy, I'd choose one day a week and cook a bunch. (if you're sick of hte same old things you could ask a classmate to borrow their kitchen), and put it into tupperware so it was ready to go. I'm lazy when I'm super busy, so if it was all ready to go I'd stick to my healthy options rather than running for fast food :) 

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Just take the time to make healthy meals and exercise.  You can't, nor should you, work non-stop during PA school.  Let cooking and working out be some of your moments of calm and sanity.  Has worked for me throughout my didactic year.

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One thing is for certain, skip the empty and liquid calories. Cokes may give you an energy boost, but you are better off with real calories from a piece of fruit, a sandwich and some coffee or tea. The half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours. Napping will improve studying more than caffeine.  I know it seems easier to just keep studying and drink the coffee, but there are data that suggest you’ll do better if you take a nap. Good nutrition is key to wellness and stress management is key. 6COhCDL.jpg

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