Students can eat healthy on a budget

Logan Raschke, Staff Reporter

Eastern’s faculty and student community said budgeting is an important part of being a successful college student and it can be especially helpful for students who want to eat healthy food.

Beth Dunahee, an assistant director for new student and family programs who majored in accounting, said budgeting is an essential part of learning how to organize money.

“I think it’s very important to have money set aside for everything that needs to be accounted for, and to have some extra on the side,” she said.

Amber Svoboda, junior Spanish education major, said budgeting helps her organize her plans for each week.

“I don’t have a lot of money to spend initially,” she said. “You have to budget to figure out what you’ll do for the week.”

Gradually saving money each semester is another important part of being a college student, and it plays a pivotal role in budgeting, Dunahee said.

“(Students) are going to need (to save money for) the future,” she said. “Whether they’re paying now or with loans, reality hits after graduation and they have to figure out how to pay.”

Svoboda said she tries to save about 25 to 50 percent of each paycheck she earns.

Dunahee said she recommends all students begin budgeting their money as soon as they start college so they can do it more easily after they graduate.

“Students will need to (budget) at some point in school to get the basic foundation of budgeting,” she said.

For those who have never tried budgeting before, Dunahee said she believes taking it slow at first is the best way to ease into it.

“I would recommend starting small,” she said. “(Budget) day by day or week by week instead of planning for the whole month.”

Dunahee said eating healthy can be expensive and invasive to a college student’s budget, but it is not impossible with the help of good planning. 

She said purchasing vegetables and fruits in bulk and keeping an eye on the brand names students are buying can help cut costs.

“(Students) don’t always have to get name brand things,” she said. “You can still get generic brand food and it’ll still be healthy.”

According to Svoboda, unhealthy eating habits and college living are not closely associated for students living on campus at Eastern.

She said students living on campus who have meal passes have access to a number of healthy foods and salad bars at the dining halls.

Additionally, veering away from whole and organic fruits and vegetables can help reduce grocery bills for college students aiming to eat healthy, said Svoboda.

“(Students) can buy frozen veggies,” she said. “If you do a little research, (eating healthy) doesn’t always have to be expensive.”

In addition to purchasing off-brand fruits and vegetables, Svoboda said she buys her groceries monthly instead of weekly to help reduce costs and get her budget plan rolling.

“I don’t (shop for groceries) weekly because I typically spend more than I need to,” she said.

With the help of well-managed budgeting, Svoboda said she figures how much money should go into what supplies she needs every month, and she is comfortable with how much she spends.

Nutrition Promotion Coordinator Lindsey Eigsti said she is hosting a class for students who are interested in learning how to eat healthy on a college student’s budget on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in Klehm 2309.

“(The class) is free to EIU students and they get to make food based off of the themed recipes, then share it with everyone in attendance,” said Eigsti.

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].