Whether you’re headed back to campus yourself or packing foods for little ones, being back in a school environment can sometimes be challenging for a healthy eater. Despite the fact that interest in healthy foods is growing by the minute, not all school campuses are up to par with the more specific dietary guidelines you may follow (or have your children follow). For the raw vegan or the gluten-free eater, for example, campuses often have a few salad options, perhaps some carrot sticks (hold the ranch), or maybe a hummus something or other. So, healthy green monsters, here are a few tips to keep it healthy on campus:

  • It may go without saying here, but pack a whole lot of snacks. For a raw vegan, this means some pre-washed fruits and vegetables and some raw vegan bars. Buy in bulk (with both your bars and your produce) and try your best to prepare some options for the week ahead whenever you can, so you don’t run low on time and opt for the likely-less-healthy campus stuff. On another note: pack your snacks with diversity (my blend is one piece of fruit, one serving of vegetables, one snack bar, and a nut blend (like almonds and cashews) to fuel a long campus day.  Also – pack more than you think you’ll need! Better to have leftovers than to be stuck searching for vending machine options.
  • If you want more substantial meal ideas (beyond a bunch of snacks), consider this time-saving option: when you make dinner every night, make enough for an extra person. BEFORE serving dinner (this is important – don’t designate the extra food as a “leftover” because then you run the risk of eating it then!), put the one serving into a large mason jar. Mason jars are perfect for on the go because their height allows for easy in-car (on the way) or on-campus eating. Just heat and then grab a fork, and you can easily stick the mason jar in your drink compartment to grab in between or just take to school with you.
  • In consideration of the last tip: never underestimate the pre-made mason jar salad. Add in a mason jar (in this order): dressing, veggies, greens. Shake when you’re ready to eat – the dressing will blend (and, since it was on the bottom, should not have pre-soaked your salad). Voila!
  • If you haven’t already, it may be time to invest in a dehydrator. You can get a whole batch of snack-friendly dried fruits and vegetables ready for yourself (or the kids). You’ll get all the crunch you may crave in high times of stress (read: exam time) and none of the icky stuff. You’ll need to make the initial investment in the dehydrator –b but, trust me – it’s much cheaper than vending machine pretzels in the long run.
  • If you’re an adult, Kombucha is your friend. Many health food stores now offer this on tap. Fuel those caffeine-worthy moments with body-friendly Kombucha instead of loads of stale campus coffee.
  • If at all possible, keep some of your food gear on campus. Many college campuses rent lockers where you can keep a stash of reusable cups, napkins, and silverware, so you don’t spend valuable eating time searching for goods around school.
  • If you are ever stuck without options on campus, go with those salads (leave the dressing behind and ask for olive oil instead) and vegetable plates. Keep away from the vending machine at all costs, though!

Image Source: Universidad de Navarra/Flickr