Eating Healthy on a Budget: Tips for Student-Athletes

June 28, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

Most student-athletes have little free time and even less extra spending money. As a result, they end up compromising on their nutrition and giving in to highly processed convenience food and take-out. Although eating healthy on a budget may seem impossible, research has shown that eating better actually costs less. Because good nutrition is important to both sports and academic performance, it’s smart to follow guidelines for eating healthy on a budget.

Start Planning

An eating plan can help you stay on target through study, training and competition. Try focusing on a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods—e.g., lean meats, yogurt, fruit smoothies, poached eggs, bean salads—as opposed to deep-fried, over-processed snacks and foods that are high in sugar, fat and calories.

When making a shopping list for your plan, be aware of food that you still have in stock. Studies have estimated that the average person throws out almost $150 worth of meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products per year. Cutting back on food waste can save you money. But it's also important to stick to your shopping list. Shopping online can be a viable alternative if you tend to give in to temptation at the grocery store.

Buy in Bulk

Staples like oil, grain, cereal, bread and even meat are cheaper when bought in bulk. When stored appropriately (you can put breads and meats in the freezer), these items can last for quite a while. Team up with friends when buying fresh produce at wholesale markets or local grocers to take advantage of buying in bulk.

Along with shopping in bulk, attempt also to cook in bulk. Cooking extra quantities saves you time and money. When you're busy, leftovers can be quickly reheated for a quick lunch or dinner, avoiding unhealthy convenience food. Organize a food co-op among friends or teammates to participate in bulk cooking and food sharing. This not only saves you time and money but also ensures that a variety of food will be available during busy weeks.

Scour for Specials

Most supermarket chains publish weekly and daily specials. If you don’t get them mailed to you, subscribe online, which allows you to compare prices among supermarkets. If time permits, late-night shopping is another great way to save, because you can often take advantage of price reductions on perishable items like roasts, salads and breads. Just make sure you use them within twenty-four hours.

Go Generic

Substitute generic or house brands for premium brands. They generally cost far less but taste about the same. Look at the unit price of the item instead of the final price to compare across brands and package sizes. Also, try purchasing cheaper cuts of meat for use in soups, casseroles, salads and sandwiches.

Visit the Frozen Section

Whenever possible, buy fresh, in-season fruits and veggies from local grocers. They are often cheaper and higher quality than off-season produce. However, when fresh is not available, frozen veggies and fruit are viable alternatives, since they’re picked and packed at the peak of the season. A package of frozen veggies allows for a quick nutritional boost to your meal. Don't neglect canned tuna, chicken, beans and fruit (in natural juices) either. These are often relatively cheap and excellent for snacking and eating on the go.

Take Second Helpings

School dining halls can ease the food budget of student-athletes staying on campus. If you know you have extra requirements due to tougher training schedules, and if they fit within your energy budget, help yourself to seconds. Pack breakfast items for your lunch or a midday snack if permitted.

Eating healthy on a budget may seem like a challenge, but with adequate planning, healthy, tasty meals can be quick and affordable.

Julian Ong
- Julian Ong, APD, holds a master's degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Sydney. A member of the Dietetics Association of Australia and...
Julian Ong
- Julian Ong, APD, holds a master's degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Sydney. A member of the Dietetics Association of Australia and...
Must See
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,799,420
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,213,638

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 243,040
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,319
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,097
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,211
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,865
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,918
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,560

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

You diet hard all week, eating nothing but clean foods, train your butt off in the gym, and feel like you're making real progress. Then Saturday comes -...

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

YardBarker