Snacks and Backpacks; Inexpensive, Healthy, Energy-Packed Foods for College Students

Typical college students are always on the run. With a day full of classes, papers, studying, and just general student life, you barely have time to eat a decent meal. And like most of us, after student loans and buying college supplies, you’re on a budget.

We’ve put together a list of foods that you can tote around with you all day that won’t spoil in your backpack and will give you energy to get through a day of college classes and still have motivation to do what you need to at the end of the day.  All this while increasing your energy levels, decreasing your spending, and maintaining your weight.

When grocery shopping, focus on buying foods that won’t spoil, and can be stored in your backpack all day or be heated up as necessary.  Here are a few examples:

  • Granola
  • Protein Bars
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Nuts
  • Tuna
  • Carrot sticks
  • Peanut butter
  • Cucumbers

Next we want to focus on foods that will give us energy but won’t make us crash.  When selecting these foods there are a few pointers to keep in mind. Always choose whole wheat and multi-grain over white flour products.  Complex carbohydrates will give you long lasting energy and keep you fuller throughout the day.  Simple carbohydrates sill give you quicker bursts of energy but will wear off more quickly. Foods with a lot of fiber will keep you full longer.

Backpack Foods

Some examples of complex carbohydrates to choose that can be kept in your backpack are:

  • A slice of whole wheat bread
  • Small granola bar
  • Small bag of granola or trail mix
  • Small bag of whole grain crackers such as Wheat Thins
  • Multi-grain chips
  • Fiber bars

Digestive Foods

Starting to fall asleep in class?  Need a little burst to keep you going but not fill you up?  Here are some easy-to-digest foods that will give you a little boost:

  • Small glass or carton of apple juice
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Small bag of grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Yogurt (if kept in small cooler)

Simple Snacks

Above are some foods that can help give you energy to get through the day. In addition to foods that give you energy, however, sometimes college students just have an urge to snack, but don’t want to break the bank or inflate their waistlines.  Here are some simple snack foods that provide the vitamins and minerals you need but have very few calories:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers (can be mixed with sliced tomato and light Italian dressing for a simple, filling salad)
  • Green and red peppers
  • Edamame
  • Chickpea salad
  • Snap peas
  • Vegetable juice
  • Celery with peanut butter

Protein Snacks

All these foods are great, simple snack foods that keep the calories down. One last tip for snacking in college life is to incorporate protein into your snacking.  Protein will help provide energy as well as the essential amino acids our bodies need to function properly.  Some examples of backpack protein snacks are:

  • Nuts (any kind of nut, just don’t have too many)
  • Protein bars (such as Balance or Detour bars)
  • Protein powder (just put the powder in a shaker and mix with water or milk when you get on campus)
  • Cans of tuna (make sure you have access to a can opener)
  • Peanut butter (can put on whole wheat bread or bring small cups)
  • Canned chicken
  • Lentil beans

The knowledge we put into our brains is an essential part of our college careers, but we must remember that the food we put into our bodies, even simple snacks, constitute an essential part of our overall health, both physical and mental. College can be tough enough—get the most out of your college experience by getting the proper nutrients and energy to make it through the school year!