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back to school: college girl's grocery guide

The one of the biggest dilemmas I face at school{besides studying + avoiding Netflix..} is choosing what to eat. Yes, the dining hall food is convenient as ever and yes, the on-site Chilis is right next to my class, but where is the nutrition!? I find myself slowly falling back into old habits when I chow down on food that was fast, cheap, and instantly satisfying.

Today's post is not only going to help shape up my college diet but help YOU figure out how to save $$ and eat BETTER THAN EVER! I have some tricks and tips to share about grocery shopping. I am going to share my personal eating habits {some embarrassing, some normal!} in order to give you some perspective on how I truly eat and how I can not resist some Talenti ice cream from time to time. *Please not I am not a nutritionist by any means! These tips are what work for my diet and lifestyle. I did consult with my college dietitian to create healthy food ideas for my diet, and these options are just the few out of the plethora of variations that you may come up with for your own life.

Here are some of my favorite breakfast, lunch, & dinner options!

breakfast options


OATMEAL // one of the CHEAPEST items you should always have in your cabinet is a container of oats! They are huge and cost less than $3.00. I love Quaker oats and I buy either the rolled oats or quick cooking oats. They make great breakfasts! Top your oatmeal with seasonally fruit-- blueberries, strawberries, bananas, & peaches. I love to add some Agave nectar {$3.99} to sweeten it up! I also use oats to bake and cook other foods with. I make 3 ingredient cookies with oats, smashed bananas, and chocolate chips!

FRUIT BOWL // add some of your fave fruits into a bowl in the morning for a quick bite. To save time, I usually buy FROZEN fruits because they don't go bad as fast as refrigerated fruits can. I will keep frozen strawberries, mixed berries, raspberries, I can also use them in smoothies, on top of oatmeal, in acai bowls, and even in my cereal!

ACAI BOWL // packed with serious antioxidants and great flavors, acai bowls are all the rage right now! I follow at least 2-3 Instagram accounts that share photos of these healthy bowls on a daily basis. You can purchase packets of this super-fruit online or I have found some in my local Publix. Simply combine one packet, a banana, blueberries {and whatever fruits you like really!} and 1/4 cup of juice or almond milk and a few cubes of ice and bam! you have yourself a healthy meal. You can also buy acai powder {$25 or $3.28 per oz} which is a great substitute!

KASHI CEREAL // I have been a cereal lover since elementary school, and it is a constant go-to of mine for the morning. I pour myself some Kashi Crunch! {$3.19} with almond milk and I am set. Sometime cereals can be on SALE for 2 for $5.00, which is an amazing deal! And if you find yourself eating cereal a lot I would consider going to Sam's Club or Costco and buying in bulk to save more money!

GREEK YOGURT // yogurt is a great probiotic that can help with digestion and your immune system! Look for deals like 20 for $10 which makes them a steal. I love brands like Chobani and Greek 100. Yogurt can also be a great snack and treat! They have all types of flavors now--coffee, strawberry/chocolate, key lime, & cheesecake!

OJ //
TEA //

lunch options


SANDWICH // a lunch classic! I usually buy mesquite or bbq flavored turkey breast in the deli section of my grocery store in bulk {about 1 lb for the week!} and that runs me $5-6.  I use the meat {I like Hormel Natural Choice because it has NO ADDED STUFF! like preservatives, nitrates, and artificial colors} 3-4 times a week for lunch, and instead of buying Subway sandwiches for $5-6 EACH, I use that money to eat three times as many sandwiches! A few of my favorite sandwich combos:

1) Turkey, Pesto, Provolone Cheese
2) Turkey, Provolone Cheese
3) Chicken, Pita Bread, Asiago Cheese
4) Peanut Butter, Jelly, Whole Grain Bread
5) Chicken, Mozzarella, Tomato

GRILLED CHICKEN // I eat a ton of protein in my diet. I eat chicken on a daily basis, and my lovely roommate taught me an easy way to cook some chicken for myself. I buy some chicken thighs at the grocery store for usually under $8 and cook it off on Sunday nights for the rest of the week! That way I have my meat prepared and I just need to pack some side dishes with it each day. I cook my chicken with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and sometimes a good lemon + salt mix!

CHIPS // because I eat 5-6 small meals during the day, I love snacks. Snacking is something I am constantly finding myself doing, so I make sure I pick the healthiest options! I like to get somewhat of a serving of veggies and go for veggie chips! I also love sweet potato chips,

CARROTS // bringing a small bag of carrots is a simply way to get some extra vitamins! These crunchy carrots make me think I am eating chips...and they are CHEAP! Most stores sell them for under $2 for a large bag!

CASHEWS // nuts are loaded with Vitamin E which is great for your skin and overall health! My bestie bought an entire container at Sam's for $15 and that lasted her an entire semester! Cashews are normally $5 for a small tin, so that investment really paid off.

DARK CHOCOLATE // after a meal, I like to treat myself to some dark chocolate! In moderation, this chocolate is actually good for you, too. I love the Ghirardeli Intense Dark Flavor

APPLES & PEANUT BUTTER // I eat so much peanut butter it's insane! I love to eat at my desk and dip sliced apples into peanut butter as a snack. I choose Gala apples in a bag {$4} and natural peanut butter {$3}.

dinner options


WHOLE GRAIN PASTA // I am Italian, therefore I love pastas, gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli, and baked ziti. I have decided to try to be healthier with the pastas I buy, and I found a great whole grain one {the Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti is only $1.34!}! Pastas are amazing because you can cook a whole pot at once and save the LEFTOVERS! I will then use those as lunch the next day.

TACOS // these are super easy to make and also combine the right amounts of flavor,crunch, and protein. I will eat pork, chicken, or steak tacos from time to time.

GREEN VEGGIES // I used to hate broccoli. Hate it. But now, it is my favorite vegetable! I challenge you to try a new green veggie in your life. I cook this vegetable all the time. My secret is to buy frozen veggies that you can microwave! It cuts down on cost and time.

SWEET POTATO FRIES // I also love sweet potatoes. They are fantastic sources of Vitamin C and A. I coat the chunks of potato with olive oil and salt and put them in the over for 30 minutes. Add in some cinnamon and you have a crunchy, flavorful and healthy snack! This frozen bag of sweet potatoes is also a nice option.

SALAD // I am slowly adjusting to the salad lifestyle. My personal favorite is from a restaurant on the beach. It has berries, figs, arugula, feta cheese, and a berry dressing! Fruit + nuts + leafy greens = a delicious dinner option.

CHICKEN SAUSAGE // or more specifically, chicken apple sausage! These are so easy to cook--just saute them in a skillet for a few minutes until they are brown. I eat them alone paired with a green veggie! I love the Target Brand Simply Balanced All Natural Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage.

The Ultimate Affordable by Amanda Grocery List
grocery list

This is a breakdown of my grocery list, too! Feel free to PIN it on Pinterest so you can use it the next time you are shopping for food! Let me know in the comments what food YOU love to eat! 
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