Eating healthy on a college campus can be a bit of a chore, especially when you’ve got fast food places every few feet, and the college meal plan doesn’t exactly offer the healthiest options. Snacks are normally limited to whatever you can get out of the vending machines, so chips and candy bars are a staple. If you want to eat a little healthier, here are some healthy snacks that you can prep easily to take with you to class, the dorm room, or wherever you need to go — even if you don’t have a kitchen to cook in.
Most fresh fruit needs to be refrigerated, but you do have some options if you don’t want to haul around a portable cooler or lunchbox to your classes.
- Apples are awesome sources of fiber and can be stored in a bag or backpack without refrigeration. Other tree fruits — pears, peaches, nectarines, etc — can also work, though you might need to be a bit more careful with someone of these. They’re soft enough that they might squish in your bag if they end up under a textbook.
- Bananas — A potassium powerhouse, these little self-wrapped fruits are perfect if you need a quick pick me up during the day.
- Citrus Fruits — Oranges, Tangelos and Mandarins are great little snacks, as long as you have somewhere to dispose of the peel when you’re done.
This might seem messy, but apple sauce packets designed for small children can be a great way to carry a healthy snack with you without the need for a spoon. If you’re handy though, you can turn the foil lid of a regular applesauce cup into a spoon with a few twists! As an added bonus, many of these packets contain other fruits and some even contain vegetables.
Green Bean Chips
These sound a little odd but hear us out — dried green beans have the consistency of potato chips while giving you all the nutritional benefits of regular green beans. You can buy them pre-packaged (check your local farmers market if you don’t see them at the grocery store) or you can make them yourself, just by drying them for a few hours in a cool oven.
These might require some refrigeration, but you won’t need anything more than a cutting board and a good knife to prepare them. Some good vegetable options might include:
- Carrots — alone or with hummus or dip, these snacks keep for quite a while in your bag, making them ideal for between class snacks.
- Celery — while it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, it’s super tasty when paired with peanut butter or other nut butters.
- Sugar Snap Peas — a tasty treat with a hint of sweetness, these can be eaten raw and whole or dried into chips.
Any fresh vegetable you can chop up and stick in a container can potentially be a good snack. Some of the softer vegetables, like tomatoes or cucumbers, should be stored with a cold pack though to keep them fresh.
Most nuts, like almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, are packed full of good protein and fiber to keep you going throughout the day. They also don’t need any refrigeration, so you can stash them in your bag and forget about them until you need them. If you get bored of one type, it’s easy to mix them up. They’re also a great addition to any trail mix.
Just be careful to enjoy them in moderation. While nuts are good for you, they can also be high in calories.
If crunching on nuts in a quiet lecture hall doesn’t appeal to you, try switching to nut butters instead. They have all the nutritional benefits of the nuts themselves, come in a variety of types, and can be spread on just about anything. Make a nut butter and jelly sandwich, eat celery with nut butter, or spread it on crackers — the sky is the limit. Stick to natural or organic nut butters though — these usually don’t have any additives, which makes for a healthier snack.
Don’t start loading up the butter. Without all the extra toppings, popcorn can be one the healthiest snacks in your arsenal. Invest in a cheap air popper — they’re about $20 at Wal-Mart and take up very little counter space — and pop your own. It’s okay to add a little bit of butter, but you don’t want to make it equal the stuff you can get at the movie theater.
These aren’t always the healthiest option, depending on the brand you choose, but they can do in a pinch and many are flavored with chocolate or other sweet options, making it easier to pick up a protein bar instead of a chocolate candy bar. Look for brands that are low in processed sugars and made with all natural ingredients.
This savory spread is made from chickpeas, which are high in protein, and can be paired with just about anything. Dip carrots or pretzels in it, spread it on crackers, or use it as a replacement for mayo on your turkey sandwich. Hummus can be high in salt, depending on the flavors that are added to it, so enjoy it in moderation. It does also need to be refrigerated, so stash your hummus in with your fresh vegetables or other cold snacks.
Snacking on campus doesn’t need to be entirely unhealthy, even if you do enjoy your chips and candy bars. Supplement your snack regimen with a few of these healthy alternatives to help you lower your sugar intake and keep you energized so you can get to all those early morning classes!