The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Nutrition in college

The personal dilemmas I’ve had with food in college

I am currently in my third year of college and this school year is my first year living off campus. During my first two years of college, I did not see nutrition being any kind of issue because a meal plan was required if you lived on campus. However, since I’ve been living off campus for almost a year now, I am now facing different struggles revolving around what I eat. 

There are a variety of foods you can choose from at the dining hall like sandwiches, home-cooked style food, vegetarian/vegan options, a salad bar, etc. Since the Dining Hall provides so many options, it was easy to be able to balance my meal and the obvious, not having to plan what I am going to eat or meal prep. 

Now that  I don’t live on campus, I don’t have access to the Dining Hall anymore. I decided against buying the meal plan because the commuter meal plans for Tarleton State University are only Dining Dollars, meaning I would have money loaded on my student ID for the different restaurants around campus, but I wouldn’t have access to the Dining Hall . I did not see the point in paying for the on-campus restaurants since I would still need to purchase groceries. 

The biggest struggle I am having so far is learning how to plan and balance meals. I would have never imagined that this would be  a problem since you learn all throughout grade school what balanced meals are. 

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I don’t have access to the same ingredients I did back home so planning my meals becomes more limited based on my budget. If I were to pick whatever meal without taking into account what I already have, I would be spending way too much on groceries for the week. 

Another issue that I think is increasingly relevant is the cost of groceries. In 2023, Melanie Hanson, a research analyst, educator, and senior editor for the Education Data Initiative, did a report on the average cost of food per month for a college student. She determined that a college student spends about $250 on groceries a month. It was also determined that college students spend approximately $410 a month eating out. 

Obviously, the money someone spends on eating out can be reduced, but that may cause an increase in the amount of groceries. Not to mention the fact that  healthier alternative food items like bread, organic snacks, almond butter, plant based milks, fruits, and vegetables significantly increase the cost of groceries. 

Lastly, finding the time to cook is another issue I have been struggling with. Like most college students, I am busy most days with either school, studying, or the extracurriculars that I am involved with. By the time I get home, I don’t have the energy or want to cook so it’s easier to grab something on the way home. 

Not having the convenience of being able to walk somewhere and get food that is readily available can be a struggle for those who have never lived by themselves before. I am still learning what my perfect balance is as well as what meals I am able to cook in an efficient amount of time that are healthy and cost effective.  

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Madison Thornton
Madison Thornton, Staff Writer

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