After a long day on campus, the last thing a student wants to do is come home and slave away in the kitchen. Students often resort to unhealthy food choices such as expensive takeout meals or the standard two-minute noodles. Both these options deprive them of the nutrition required for proper academic performance and the energy to make the most of a university day.

 

Studies by the Society of Neuroscience show that foods such as burgers, pastries and chips decrease the ability to learn effectively. This is because the high levels of saturated fats in these foods drastically decrease the ability to concentrate and increase fatigue. Alternatively, unprocessed foods with lower levels of glucose, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, are better options that can provide students with more energy and help them focus for longer.

 

Nutrition experts at Davidson College suggest that a diet that includes carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats is extremely important for student vitality. The brain’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates, which foods like brown rice, fruits and vegetables provide. The brain uses the glucose present in carbohydrates to stay active and power its memory and thinking functions. Fulfilling the suggested carbohydrate intake in the form of fruits also provides additional liquid and vitamins necessary for a healthy body and mind. Moreover, proteins are essential for growth and development and also fuel the body so that it can function efficiently.

 

Shopping for one person is often an expensive and stressful task, leaving students drained and feeling like victims of daylight robbery. Buying in bulk at places such as Makro is always cheaper, and splitting the cost with a friend saves students a few pennies. Additionally, shops such as Checkers, Woolworths and Pick ’n Pay have specials for customers who swipe their discount cards with each purchase. Another money- saving tactic is the creation of weekly meal plans and a grocery list before heading out to the shops. This allows you to identify of what is needed and makes for a quicker and more intentional shopping experience.

 

Alongside meal plans and grocery lists, meal prepping, which entails making and storing food until needed, is a great way to save time as a student but also cut down on food wastage. Hectic college weekdays become slightly less busy when you use your weekends to make batches of food, prepare the main part of the desired meal, or even just chop the vegetables. Cooking apps such as Yummly are helpful in deciding on what to cook. The app allows you to list the ingredients you have at hand and generates recipes based on these ingredients. If you need meal inspiration, follow food bloggers or just keep an eye out for this segment for some tasty (but cheap) recipe suggestions.

 

Dish of the Week: Shipwreck Pasta

This week we prepare shipwreck pasta. This quick, budget- friendly meal can easily be tailored to your liking and is an excellent meal prep option, with most of the ingredients probably already in your cupboards.

 

Ingredients

  • Ground beef (Tofu is a great vegetarian alternative.)
  • Macaroni and cheese mix: usually less than R20 at shops and can be used in many dishes!
  • Tomatoes: for a lovely freshness and acidity
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, curry powder, etc.
  • Macaroni/whatever type of pasta you have lying around.
  • Milk
  • Cheese: preferably cheddar to create a creamy texture
  • Optional: extra veggies such as onions, carrots, corn, or spinach for some extra nutrition and flavour

Recipe

  1. Heat your skillet over a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil.
  2. Add the beef or tofu and let that sizzle, while stirring occasionally, until a brown colour is reached. This should take about five to seven minutes.
  3. Toss in the pasta along with the packet of macaroni and cheese mix and give it a good stir.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, your preferred veggies, the milk and the seasoning. Allow the veggies to soften slightly.
  5. Bring the dish to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Keep it covered until the pasta is cooked, or for 12 minutes.
  6. Melt a generous amount of cheddar cheese into the mix, and you are done!

 

Tip: For some extra decadence, add some cheese on top and throw it in the oven to create a nice golden top. Serving this alongside a fresh salad is best.

 

Nutritious meals do not have to break the bank or take you hours to prepare, and by putting some thought into what you eat, you can ensure you have the energy to be the best version of your student self.

Naudette Mukoni
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