The freshman 15 — a well-known title for the fresh students entering the world of late nights, tight budgets, a demanding social life and plenty of cheap, greasy food. If you are unfamiliar with the freshman 15, it refers to incoming college students who typically gain 15 pounds their first year due to bad eating habits. There seems to be a common assumption that as soon as you get into college, all commitment to eating healthy goes out the window and pizza becomes your one and only cuisine, but that’s not the case. It is possible to live off of a low budget and still maintain a healthy diet. So go ahead and throw out that $8 box of ramen noodles, because I have some insight for you.

Let’s face it, fatty foods can be mouthwatering and irresistible at times. Yes, turning into Homer Simpson after seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial is totally normal and, hey, sometimes a hangover doughnut is necessary. But I promise that as soon as you replace soda with seltzer water, Pringles for protein bars and Rice-A-Roni for plain brown rice, your taste pallet will change, and you’ll begin to desire healthier foods that’ll help you function well in college.

It is essential that if you are going to cook for yourself every day (the healthiest option), you will need a few powerful spices to make that chicken and brown rice not taste so bland. Salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon are an obvious must, but another few that will make things taste better are turmeric, thyme leaves, nutmeg, oregano, ginger and rosemary. Some other necessities are olive oil, vinegar and cooking oil.

Keep in mind when you’re not living at home and have a few roommates, there is limited space in the fridge for food. I would like to say keep Costco or Sam’s Club as your best friend, but sometimes, there just isn’t enough room for those two in your food friend group. Walmart on the other hand, consider as your numero uno, your ride or die, your partner in crime. On my bi-weekly hangouts with Walmart, I usually stock up on canned tuna fish, dijon mustard, chicken breasts, two cabbages, beans, avocados, tomatoes, eggs, shredded cheese, stinky cheese, fruits and veggies of your choice, whole wheat tortillas and low fat whole grain bread.

This list may seem bland, but the plethora of recipes out there that use these exact ingredients will blow your mind. Myfridgefood.com is a website I typically use to find yummy, healthy recipes. It allows you to plug in the ingredients you have in your kitchen, and it will generate hundreds of healthy options. Keep this shopping list posted on your fridge amongst the cheesy wedding announcements and weird family Christmas cards. I assure you instead of waking up one morning realizing you’ve fallen victim to the freshman 15 and that you have less money in your bank than you weigh, you’ll instead be proud of the healthy recipes you learned, and you’ll have a suprisingly heavier wallet. By next summer, in addition to beer pong bragging rights, you will also gain the title of self-proclaimed chef.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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