The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Skinny wallet? How to eat well on a budget

Students could have been served a heaping amount of knowledge about how to make affordable, healthy eating choices Feb.28. But no one showed up.

The Student Academic Success Center, in collaboration with the department of Recreational Sports, sponsored an informational workshop titled “Eating on a Budget” at  the Patriots’ Casa.

The session is the third of nine in the G.R.O.W.L series. Each one, staying true to their name, is meant to help students in gaining resources and opportunities while learning.

Still, the event went on for student media in attendance.

“We want to provide our students real life tools to be successful beyond the classroom,” Eric Rodriguez, academic success coach said.

For most people, sticking to a budget is as easy as sticking to that New Year’s resolution to cut back on the dollar menu.

The Eating on a Budget workshop aimed to provide students with some insight on how to make healthier choices without overspending. This included advice on meal prep, grocery shopping, sleeping habits, and exercise.

Arturo Olague, director of recreational sports, began the session by stating the three most important components to healthy living; exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition.

Leah Holmstorm, student and rec center assistant at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, getting tips on how to eat healty on a budget. Photo by Stephanie Sotelo

Students were provided with a 12-page booklet that included sample meals with a breakdown of cost and nutrition, as well as helpful tips and links.

“What we want to try and do is provide examples like today’s meal, and ones in this booklet, that will last you a good portion of the month,” Olague said.

For most college students, a six-piece nugget and small fries for $2 through the drive-thru is more feasible than that organic chicken and veggies that takes an hour to bake.

Olague recognized that for most college students maintaining a balanced diet came down to time and money.

He hoped to dispel the idea that eating healthy meant eating only organic or gluten-free.  

He encouraged students to be honest with themselves about where they can improve in their diet, figure out what they like, and do the research on what is going to work for their body and lifestyle.

He explained that by giving themselves options; students can measure calories, maximize their groceries, and keep track of the overall cost much easier.

Still, the investment doesn’t stop there.

Along with a balanced diet comes exercise and getting enough sleep. Olague advised students to ease themselves into daily exercise in order to burn excess energy that would otherwise turn into fat, as well as allowing their bodies time to fully rest and re-energize for the next day.

With their minds full of new tips and information, Olague wasn’t going to let the students leave with empty stomachs.

As the discussion concluded, he moved to the front of the classroom where water boiled in a pot atop an electronic hot plate.

He removed half the Ramen noodles from it’s packaging and eased them into the water, steam clouding the air in front of him.

Turning his attention to the grilled chicken, he placed a handful of slices on a plate, tiny frozen crumbs escaping onto the tabletop as he prepped the pieces for the microwave.

In a matter of minutes, the air warmed with the smell of steamed noodles and seasoned chicken.

Topped with a drizzle of soy sauce for taste, Olague served the students a light but tasty example of how to put their new knowledge to good use.

Leah Holmstrom, a student assistant from Recreational Sports, was present to assist Olague in preparing and serving the sample meal, as well as offer her peers support in learning more about how to make healthier choices.

“Students can also check out the Rec Sports Facebook page. We try and regularly share healthy recipe ideas and videos,” Holmstrom said.  

There are still four workshops to be held as part of the G.R.O.W.L series. All will be held in the Patriots’ Casa, room 103.

The sessions will explore various topics, such as stress management, that students may find helpful as we reach the halfway point in the semester.

Fliers with specific dates and topics will be posted on all digital and paper bulletin boards around campus.

For more details, feel free to reach out to the Student Academic Success Center located on the 3rd floor in the Senator Frank L. Madla Building. For more healthy recipe ideas, visit Rec Sports facebook page at here.

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