How to Eat Healthy on the Cheap as a Nursing Student

Your years spent in nursing school can be very exciting: You will make new friends as well as prepare for a career that will bring you and others joy. Yet, the busy schedule of studying and clinical practice can put a high demand on your energy levels that must be met by eating the right foods. Your awareness of how to eat healthy can be heightened by keeping in mind the principle of having plant-based food (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) comprise a major part of your diet. Also, you should include smaller amounts of protein from a number of diverse sources while generally avoiding sweets. Here are some healthy meal ideas that are also relatively inexpensive.

Breakfast

You can begin your day right with an unbeatably healthful breakfast of old-fashioned oats. This "stick to your ribs" food is a quality source of fiber, protein and minerals that costs as low as 13 cents per serving. Try throwing in some dried fruit or nuts for added flavor!

An alternative is to chop up fresh fruit and add it to plain yogurt, thus making it into a parfait or a smoothie. You can cut costs by choosing fruit that is in season. Avoid flavored yogurt, as it is generally higher in sugar. The nutrients in the fruit together with the probiotics in the yogurt can provide a healthy and delicious start to your morning.

Power Salads

Few meals are as fundamental to a healthy diet as a large salad chock full of fresh, raw vegetables. The wide variety of nutrients can provide your body with the fuel it needs for the full agenda of a nursing student. You can include spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados and dark leafy greens in your bowl, or make these meals more substantial by mixing in shredded carrots, sliced zucchini or broccoli florets. For extra protein, add shredded cheese, garbanzo beans or turkey strips. However, you should avoid prepackaged vegetable combinations, as they are more expensive and tend to expire rapidly.

Bean Dishes

Although beans are deceptively inexpensive, they're also a surprisingly good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals. Make a big batch of vegetarian chili, lentil stew or bean soup; once cooked, you can divide it into packs to freeze for later. You could also make a bean and tuna salad and eat it in whole grain pita bread.

Substitutions

Substituting healthful for less wholesome ingredients can improve your diet without necessarily costing more. You should make any form of fast food an occasional treat rather than an everyday indulgence. Even if you order salads, you can cut costs by eating at home. Moreover, instead of using white rice and white flour products like pasta, use brown rice and whole grain pastas. Ground turkey can be substituted for ground beef in any recipe. Rather than eating desserts composed of cookies, cake or ice cream, opt for fresh fruit.

Eating nutrition-dense foods as you go through nursing school will boost your physical and mental stamina, helping you approach your studies with more enthusiasm. Knowing how to eat healthy can also involve eating economically, if you are mindful. Following the above guidelines can equip your body with the essentials it needs for health without sacrificing wealth.

Photo Source: Flickr

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Tags: associate degree in nursing, LPN, nursing, Registered Nursing, Vocational & Practical Nursing

Mary West

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