Campus / Health

Experts say eating healthy at home doesn’t have to be expensive

Terra Harter

(Buffalo, N.Y.) – Many college students often complain they don’t have the time or money to prepare healthy home-cooked meals on a regular basis.

Homework, studying for exams and an outside job can leave many students with little time to cook at home.

Additionally, campuses are often full of fast-food options and discounts on candy and snacks, which may be convenient but can ultimately lead to unhealthy habits and the dreaded “freshman 15.”

Millennials spend about 44 percent of their food dollars, or $2,921 annually, on take out, according to a Food Institute analysis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 food expenditure data.

However, chef Don Schmitter, a lecturer in the Hospitality and Tourism Department at SUNY Buffalo State, said cooking at home doesn’t have to be expensive.

Schmitter, who teaches culinary courses, said he finds many of his students are afraid to cook for themselves, at least initially.

“To eat well, you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” he said. “There is a lot of fresh produce if you get it in-season, and so forth, that you can use to cook at home and not have to buy fast food in order to be cheap.

“A lot of good things can be inexpensive.”

Recent Buffalo State graduate Lazarus Lynch was able to use his passion for cooking to launch a successful career at the Food Network.

Lynch, who has been described as an expert on “millennial cooking,” said he often travels to schools to talk to students about eating healthy on a budget.

“Recycle things that are in your fridge that you may not be using,” said Lynch.

“If you buy a whole roasted chicken, you can make like four dishes out of that. The other thing I would say is to buy ingredients that would last.”

He also recommends using canned or frozen foods, especially vegetables, which can often be found on sale.

“Buy the big bags and you can always use those frozen vegetables. They’re equally as delicious and nutritious as raw vegetables.”

Social media may also play a role in affecting eating habits, according to Schmitter.

“The advent of being able to get things out there instantly when you prepare an item or you go out to eat and see a great dish. I think that has really made an impact, because then others see that and they’re like ‘Oh, hey I wanna do that,’” he said.

Thus, our experts say to remember preparing food at home can be more cost efficient and fun than buying that slice of pizza in the student union.


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