There comes a time when we have to let our baby birdies “fly the coop.” For many of us, this transition happens right around now with the start of a new school year as big kids are off to post secondary education.

One of the biggest challenges kids face when off to school is how to feed themselves. Manoeuvring grocery shopping, staying on budget and avoiding the “Freshman 15” are on the top of the list. 

My kids aren’t quite ready to leave the nest yet, so I polled some friends who have entered this stage of life. Based on our conversations, here is what we want you to know:

  • Find out which stores are either in walking distance or are on the bus route.
  • Many grocery stores offer student discount days and even free transportation to and from campus.
  • Discuss the value of menu planning & shopping sale items.
  • Find out what appliances are available or allowed in the living space? Having a clear picture of what they are working with will allow for maximum creativity and resourcefulness. Many residences offer a communal kitchen space that provides space in a fridge, a stove/oven, a microwave, etc.
  • Don’t have a kitchen? Make friends with someone who does. Offer to cook them a meal in exchange for using their kitchen.
  • Regardless of kitchen space, pack some glass dishes with snap lids for easy food storage. A few key pieces of cutlery and perhaps a favourite mug as well to make them feel more at home.
  • If you purchased a menu plan, find out exactly what is included and how to stretch your options as much as possible. (i.e. if you have a certain dollar amount, don’t waste your money on foods you can easily have in your room. This will of course depend on what is available where they are living. For example, don’t waste your budget on expensive tea or coffee if you can make it in your room.)

Being Creative in Your Space:

Whether there is a full out kitchen, or you feel like you are doing some form of glamping, There are plenty of creative ways to eat real foods when away from home.

"Freshman 15"No kitchen, no problem:

  • trail mix
  • bagged popcorn
  • pretzels
  • apples, bananas, oranges, pears

If you have a kettle, you can make:

  • tea, coffee, hot chocolate
  • oatmeal
  • soup

If you have a fridge, you can have:

  • yogurt, cheese
  • milk
  • fruit & veggies
  • hummus

If you have a toaster oven, you can make:

  • whole grain toast
  • frozen homemade waffles & pancakes
  • reheat leftovers

If you have a personal blender, you can make:

  • smoothies
  • guacamole
  • hummus

High Value Foods:

These foods are generally gentle on the budget while at the same time providing good nutrient value.

  • natural nut butters – almond, peanut
  • raw nuts & seeds
  • lentils, black beans, chickpeas
  • whole grain pasta & sauce
  • quinoa

Avoid the “Freshman 15”

  • minimize late night snacking & if you do, make it good quality choices
  • eat regularly – aim for 3 main meals & no skipping breakfast
  • get outside – with a sometimes hectic class schedule & homework, we can forget to take advantage of the beautiful sprawling campuses; getting outside is not only good for physical exercise, it is also good for nourishing our brains and giving us some space to breathe

Wishing you well as you begin a new adventure!

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