The schedule has been set, the books purchased and the roommate vetted. While incoming college freshmen have proven themselves ready to tackle a full classload, the question of what foods make it on their plates to fuel themselves might require a bit more studying. Armed with a meal card, tiny dorm room refrigerator and microwave, it may seem like in-room dining is unnecessary and undesirable. But the life of a college freshman is anything but predictable, so preparing for unexpected culinary cravings beyond dining hall hours can help save students unwanted headaches or inches to their waistlines. Whole Foods Market food editor, Molly Siegler and Registered Dietitian Kathy Downie share their tips for fresh freshman eats:
● Stock up on veggies that will last a while in the fridge that don't require much prep. Baby carrots, English cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and snap peas all offer a satisfying crunch and fresh flavor, says Siegler.
● Pick up your favorite dressing or dip to make veggies even more appealing.
● Apples are sweet, crunchy and can easily get tossed in a backpack for on-the-go snacking.
● Shredded cheese and yogurt are always winners on their own or mixed with other foods students have on-hand.
● Make the freezer your friend. Edamame is great, as is frozen mango. It’s basically like a little ice pop chunk when you need a sweet treat instead of a candy bar, says Siegler.
● Speaking of frozen treats, frozen grapes also satisfy a sweet tooth without resorting to the frozen yogurt machine in the dining hall.
● Keep a freezer pack cold so to-go snacks can maintain their appeal after a few hours in a cramped backpack.
No Stove? No Problem
Make Brachos! Put a little bit of water in a bowl, throw in a few pieces of raw broccoli, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds with another bowl on top to steam. Then throw on some shredded cheese and pickled jalapenos and stick it in again to melt for 15-20 seconds.
Whole Foods Market now also offers a new take on ramen starring udon noodles. Simply open, warm in the microwave, and enjoy!
No time for dining hall breakfast? Keep instant oatmeal on-hand along with apples or bananas and nuts for a well-rounded, filling start to the day.
Healthy tips to snack smart
Those late night pizza deliveries can add up in more ways than one. Downie suggests asking yourself if you're ordering that pizza because you skipped dinner and need some fuel in the tank, or are you just eating to stay awake?
If you have the munchies during after-hours study time, she proposes snacking on a piece of fruit, rice cakes (you can find brown rice ones that are whole grain) or bagged popcorn as healthier alternatives than a pizza.
Try to stay on a schedule and only eat when you're really hungry. Try eating dinner with friends where you can enjoy the food, the conversation and have a break from the day.
Drinks to stay hydrated and awake
While avoiding late night cram sessions is best if possible, sometimes they can’t be averted. Downie recommends instead of reaching for copious amounts of caffeine, try Whole Foods Market sparkling waters, which have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, caffeine or calories added -- but the bubbles will keep students invigorated.
Another fun option is infused water (if you have a bigger fridge to make a batch), or learn to enjoy a hot cup of decaf coffee or tea. The steaming hot drink should be enough to keep you awake to get work done — no caffeine needed. And then get some quality sleep!
Have a college student in your life? A Whole Foods Market gift card can help them keep responsible snack choices within reach.