10 Healthy Snacks Even College Kids Can Afford
It’s hard to think about your health when you’re running from classes to jobs to tutoring sessions to the library, and trying to find time for your social life. Here are 10 great healthy snacks that are fast and easy, and will keep you from paying $2.50 for a bagel and cream cheese, or grabbing a bag of chips at the snack shop on campus.
1. Carrots: Probably the best cheap and easy snack on the planet. Carrots and baby carrots are unbelievably nutritious. Baby carrots are a little more convenient, and are only about $1.99 for a 16 oz bag, but you can get a bag of regular carrots for as low as 77 cents a pound. A handful of about 10 baby carrots is a great little snack between classes, and comes with just 35 calories. With that you get about 8 grams of natural carbohydrates, as well as protein, fiber, and calcium, plus a nice big dose of potassium.
2. Apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? There’s definitely some truth to this old adage. The natural acids found in apples are known to battle colds and other illnesses, which is why apple cider vinegar is such a cure-all! Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples tend to be the cheapest varieties, but you can also get crisp Fiji and Gala apples for a little over $1 per pound.
3. Bananas: At 80 cents a pound or even 19 cents each (Trader Joe’s) bananas are one of the best healthy bargains for your buck. They’re chock full of vitamins and nutrients such as potassium and fiber, and at 100 calories for a medium banana, it’s a great snack to hold you over during a lecture or study session. It’s also one of the most portable fruits, complete with its own container!
4. Oranges: Vitamin C, anyone? They may be high in sugar, at 12 grams, but they’re stocked with potassium, calcium, healthy carbohydrates, and vitamins! You can get a bag of medium naval oranges for the same price as a bag of Doritos, and the oranges are sure to last a lot longer.
5. Peanuts: The cheapest variety of nuts, the peanut is actually a legume (think beans), and provides a lot of protein. High in good fats, peanuts are a great snack that will keep you full longer than empty calories found in most junk food. Get a bag of peanuts at the bulk section of your grocery store for around $3, and split them up into 2-ounce portions, for about 300 nutritious calories.
6. Pumpkin Seeds: Often sold in their shell-free version as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are a great way to get protein, potassium, and calcium. You can grab a seasoning-free bag of either pumpkin seeds or pepitas at just about any convenient store for around $2.
7. Cheddar Cheese: Looking for an easy snack to fill you up on your way to class? Buy a huge block of sharp cheddar, and then cut a chunk off to munch on. A 1-oz serving is about 110 calories, and provides 7 grams of protein, as well as calcium and potassium. Sharp cheddar is very popular these days, so you can get a great price at your grocery store, and even eat it with your apple for a nutrient-dense snack.
8. String Cheese: One of the best snacks of all. Normally when we want a snack, our bodies crave sugar or fat, and we might mentally crave sugar or salt. Luckily, string cheese is a combination of sugar, fat, and sodium, but without all the calories and trans fats of tortilla or potato chips. One stick is about 80 calories, and provides 200 mg of calcium and 8 grams of protein! Grab a pack of about 8 string cheeses for under $2, or get a giant pack of 32 for around $6. It’s a fast, healthy, and easy snack that lasts for months.
9. Hummus: Looking for a way to add some pizzazz to those carrots? Dip them in protein-dense hummus for a complete snack. The combination of protein and carbohydrates is sure to energize you for your study sessions. You can grab a generic brand of hummus for under $4, or if you have a kitchen and a blender, make your own for less than $2.
10. Peanut Butter: Skip the sugar-laden peanut butters and pick up a jar of Natural, Sugar-Free, or Unsalted peanut butter and keep it on hand. One of the smartest financial pantry items, peanut butter provides 4 grams of protein and under 100 calories for a 1-tablespoon serving. At around $3 for a jar, it’s a delicious bargain. You can spread this healthy snack on pretzels, celery sticks, apple slices, bananas, and even whole-wheat toast for an easy midday snack, or just eat it straight from the jar!