Seven Kitchen Staples for the Off-Campus Student
Living off-campus can be a great way to save money, stay focused on your studies, and maintain a little privacy. Depending on your living situation, however, eating well can be a challenge. A healthy diet is hard to maintain if you’re constantly on the go, too. Take-out is convenient, but it can be expensive—and if you don’t have a lot of time, cooking can turn into a chore.
Keeping your kitchen stocked with these seven quick and healthy foods can save you time, money, and a few pounds!
- Rice – it’s a staple food all over the world because it’s cheap, filling, and can be used in everything from breakfast to dinner. Steam brown rice to stretch veggies and proteins for a full meal, or slow cook it into a sweet rice pudding.
- Pasta – whether it’s mac and cheese or spaghetti, pasta is endlessly versatile. Gluten-free options like rice or spelt pasta cost a little more, but they’re still affordable. Invest in airtight containers for a long shelf life.
- Bananas – the snack that comes in its own container! Aside from being fabulously portable, bananas are rarely more than seventy-five cents a pound. High in fiber and protein, they’re perfect as quick, healthy fuel for any time of the day.
- Canned Salmon – if you’re not a vegetarian, canned salmon can be a cheap, low-fat way to get your protein. Use it in salads, with pasta or rice, or in salmon patties (for which my mom’s recipe is the best ever). Canned salmon still has bones and skin, which can be a great source of calcium…but if they make you squeamish, scrape them out with a fork.
- Tofu – whether you’re vegetarian or not, tofu can be an essential fridge item. Use silken tofu in breakfast smoothies (with a banana!), or crumble extra firm tofu into veggies for a quick stir fry. Pound for pound, tofu is higher in protein than ground beef—and cheaper, too!
- Spinach – it tastes much better than it did when you were a kid. Fresh, frozen or canned, it’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Sauté it and toss it with pasta, or mix with other veggies for a colorful salad.
- Bread – make sure you store your bread in a dark, dry place to get the most mileage out of your bread. Wheat or whole-grain breads are a little pricier than white, but if you want a healthier alternative to Wonder Bread, it’s worth the price.
Taking a little time to make a meal could save you money in the long run—and if you’re pressed for time, about half of these items are ready to eat. With just a few staples in your kitchen, you can maintain a healthy diet and still have yummy food every day. Feel free to combine items, or add a few staples of your own for variety. Bon appetit!