When you think about it, College is probably the busiest time of life. You’re locked into your schedule of classes, you’re making time to work, but you also need to take advantage of that fleeting, short-lived youth.
So, cooking is a luxury lots of college students just don’t have. Eating out every meal isn’t sustainable, so most college students get very familiar with their cheap snack food. Luckily, cheap and healthy college snacks aren’t too hard to find.
If you do a teeny bit of planning, you’ll have more than enough healthy college snacks to get through any course, without resorting to instant ramen. Here are 10 cheap and healthy college snacks to consider.
Let’s start with a classic. Nuts are great college snacks. They don’t need to be kept cold or hot, you can buy as few or as many as you want, and they’re pretty healthy.
One thing to watch for is nut’s fat content. Fats in nuts are generally good ones, so aren’t really bad for you. But fat has more calories per gram than carbs or protein, so a small handful of nuts can have a deceptively high number of calories.
Yes, that means you can loads of energy from a small snack, but it also makes nuts easy to over-eat. Some nuts can also be quite expensive (I’m looking at you, Macadamias!).
If you buy cheaper nuts, like peanuts or mixed nuts, and don’t eat too many, you should be okay.
2. Peanut Butter and vegetables
While we’re talking about nuts, let’s mention peanut butter. Peanut tastes great and can be a great snack for the busy college student.
One of the best ways to eat peanut butter on the go is to cut up some vegetables and get dipping! Carrots and celery are two classic partners for nut butters, but fruits, like sliced apples and pears, are great too.
One caveat: most peanut butter has lots of sugar and salt in it. It’s delicious, but not great if you’re on a health kick. Grab a jar with 100% peanuts and you’ll be in the clear. Just like nuts though, peanut butter is very moreish, so be careful not to overeat.
Imagine if there was a tasty, nutritious food that just…grew on trees? Imagine if it came with a hardy skin to keep it clean? That be great for a healthy college snack.
You may have picked up my sarcasm…fruit is a seriously under-rated snack for students. An apple, orange, banana, or pear is basically nature’s snickers bar, and less likely to cause diabetes.
Admittedly, fruit still has a fair amount of sugar, so don’t go overboard (seems to be a trend here…). The sugar is naturally occurring, and fruit is full of fibre, so it’s still a much better option than snacking on rubbish between your classes.
4. Hummus and…well, anything
Hummus is to food what black is to fashion – it goes with anything. Seriously, try dipping something bizarre into hummus. You’ll be glad you did!
Hummus is just chick peas and oil, so is pretty healthy. It does need to be a good oil though, think olive rather than sunflower. To be sure of the oil used, you can easily make hummus at home, or in your dorm room. Just blend a drained can of chick peas, and add oil to get the right consistency.
You can use hummus as a substitute for a peanut butter dip. Anything you can dip in one will taste great with the other. That’s great for a variation on PB, or for those with peanut allergies.
Protip: Just for fun, mix some peanut butter with hummus. Thank me later.
The is the last dip on this list, but it’s a darn good one! Avocado is full of healthy fats, so home-made guacamole is a great healthy college snack. Store bought guac tends to have a lot of sugar, so you’re better to make it at home.
Just smash an avo, throw in some herbs and chilli, and whack it in a tub. Then, slice some veggies and get dipping. Anything that works in hummus will work here too, but we’re particularly partial to red pepper, it’s got a super satisfying crunch.
To increase the nutritional power of guacamole (and make it go further if avocado is expensive) throw in some chopped onions, tomato, or corn. If you’re feeling fancy, anchovies, capers, cooked bacon, and most cheese (especially feta) make guacamole taste even better.
6. Tinned seafood
Most seafood is a good source of healthy fats, even if it comes from a tin. If you’re hitting the campus gym, then tinned seafood is a perfect healthy college snack – it’s high in protein, so you’ll get ripped super quick.
Tuna, anchovies, oysters, sardines, and mackerel are all available in tins, and make for quick, cheap, and easy snacks for students.
Beware – not everyone loves the smell of fish. We recommend eating this tasty morsel outside, away from crowds, and not right before a hot date.
This one requires a little planning, but pack yourself a sandwich each day and you’ll have enough fuel to stay awake in even the dullest lecture.
To make sandwiches a truly healthy college snack, stay away from PB&J. Think salad sandwich instead.
Combine cold meat or rotisserie chicken with something green and a little mayo and you’ve got a winner. Adding Franks isn’t essential, but it is recommended.
8. Granola bars
There aren’t many packaged snacks on this list, because most aren’t that healthy. Granola bars aren’t an exception to this rule, as most are full of sugar.
But if you can find a good, low sugar granola bar, you’ll have a great heathy snack for college on your hands. Granola is full of fibre and complex carbohydrates, so it gives you energy over time and helps you feel full.
Strawberries and blueberries are great to snack on around campus. Berries taste great and can be tucked into a backpack easily.
While they taste sweet, most berries have very little sugar, so are very healthy. That’s good if you’re trying to keep your sugar intake down or trying to eat less carbs.
Now to chips, our only other packaged college snack. Unfortunately, most chips are pretty unhealthy. But they’re super tasty and comes in convenient packages, so they make perfect snacks for students.
Luckily, there are some healthy chips. Kale chips, bare veggie chips, and black bean chips are all good options over the old-school salted potato chips.
You can also make your own chips. Just thinly slice some potatoes, carrots, apples, or beets, and throw them in the oven until they’re nice a crispy.
Bonus Healthy College Snack #1: Eggs!
Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats. They keep you going without having to rely on carbs and sugar, and they’re cheap. The downside is they’re not easy to transport.
You can fix that by hard boiling your eggs. Whether you peel the shell off or not, hard boiled eggs are easy to pop in a sandwich bag or lunchbox and keep in a backpack.
If hard boiled eggs aren’t your style, boil them for just 5 minutes then dunk them in ice water to keep them at a medium-soft boil. You can also marinate then for a few hours to give them a different flavour. For example, a mix of soy sauce and vinegar will make a Japanese Tasty Egg.
Bonus Healthy College Snack #2: Milk
You might be thinking that milk isn’t food – but you would be wrong! Well, at least 12% wrong.
Milk is 12% food solids, mostly in lactose (a sugar) and a little fat. For comparison, lettuce and tomatoes only have around 6% food solids. So technically, milk has twice as much food as tomatoes.
As a quick, cheap, and pretty healthy college snack, milk is a surprisingly good option! As long as you’re not lactose intolerant that is!
Can students find healthy college snacks?
There are definitely healthy college snacks out there. Some you can eat right after you buy it from the grocery store, while some need a little prep at home, or in your dorm room.
The tricky part is to plan ahead and make it really easy for you to keep eating healthy. Cut up your veggies a few days ahead, and make sure you’re stocked up on supplies. That way you’ll always have great, healthy, and cheap snacks for all your college adventures.