Eating Better On A Budget In College

Eating out every night is something that most college students seem to prefer. It offers a nice break from the pressures from school, requires no work to get an amazing meal, and is a great social experience. However, it can be quite costly and over time it can really do damage to your credit cards. There are alternatives that will allow you to eat better while also saving some money. We understand how expensive higher education can be, your meals is somewhere you can save a little. Here are some ways to limit your expenses without starving yourself.

College Meal Plans

If you live in a dorm you this may be a requirement. If you are currently on a meal plan make sure that you get the absolute most out of it.There are usually some options on the type of plan to choose depending on how many meals you anticipate eating. Give this some thought. If you are not a breakfast eater or you only need two meals a day then don’t go for the largest option.

Don’t skip any meals if you can avoid it. If you are on a plan that gives you two meals a day you can also try and sneak some food out to snack on later. It is probably against the rules, but taking a plastic ziplock bag with you can be a doable option. Make sure to read the rules however as you don’t want to put your meal plan in any sort of jeopardy.

Learn How To Cook

This is the perfect opportunity to sharpen your cooking skills. We all have to start somewhere, and being out on our own for the first time is a terrific place to start. This is the time when most young adults learn to fend for themselves and go grocery shopping. Making homemade meals is almost always going to be less expensive than eating out, plus you get to choose the ingredients that you like.

If you do not live somewhere with a full kitchen then getting a toaster oven is a must. If you think these are just for toast then you are missing out on this small kitchen appliance. With a countertop oven you will be able to cook amazing meals for one or two people. Roasted chicken, barbecue ribs, casseroles, baked pasta, and of course the college staple of pizza. A review of the most current and best toaster oven ratings can help you find a model that fits your budget and your cooking needs and enable you to get the most for your money. They are a sound investment with a long list of advantages for students looking for an easy way to get home cooking.

If you have a stove top then it is time to also get some pots and pans. You can usually find these pretty cheap at Walmart. Now it is time to find your appreciation for pasta. This is one of the simplest meals to make. A jar of ready made pasta sauce and a box of pasta will probably set you back around $4 and you should be able to squeeze two or three meals out of this. You may think that you will get bored of this but there are plenty of different sauces and pasta recipes to choose from to keep things interesting for awhile. When I was in college we used to live on Ramen noodles, but that was until I discovered a pasta sauce that I truly loved. To this day this is one of my go to meals when I want something easy and cheap to make.

Finding recipes is also a lot easier these days as Youtube is full of guides that will teach you how to make some nutritious and cheap meals. Don’t overlook this as a resource. Find something you are interested in trying and make a shopping list from the ingredients. Do this for a few recipes so that you can get all of the items you will need from the store in one trip.

Drink Water And Snack More

In between meals there is nothing as healthy as drinking some water and snacking on non-junk food. This will not only give you energy but it will also fill you up and take the edge off of your hunger. Granola bars, salad, fruits and vegetables are your best options as far as nutrition, but they do sound a little boring. Avoid the temptation of salty and sugary foods.

Drinking water is just as important. Staying hydrated will not only help your mind stay focused but it is a great way to curb your appetite. There is almost nothing better for you than water and it should not be hard to find a water fountain on campus. Fill up some spare water bottles and take them back to the dorm. Easy and cheap alternative to soda and other sugary drinks.

Student Functions

Keep an eye out of the bulletin boards on campus. There are a number of student functions throughout the year that provide some sort of free meal. Always take advantage of a free dinner, barbecue or breakfast when you can.

Avoid Temptation

It is real easy to give in to the temptation of hopping into your favorite local grill and splurging on a meal that you do not have to make for yourself. Making a monthly budget and sticking to it is going to be its own reward. Putting in the extra effort to cook for yourself and get free meals when you can will pay off in the long run. Stick to your guns and remember that you can still eat well with some forward planning and a little extra effort. Just remember to eat healthy.

Our Health

Driving Around The Neighborhood Safely With Your Kids

Rear-facing convertible child seat

We all know how important it is to use a car seat for our kids when we drive anywhere. It is not only important for their safety, but it is also the law. Each of the 50 states has some sort of requirement for parents to use a child seat for their kids. When we first had our daughter we spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect car seat. What we thought was a smart choice turned out to be a waste of money for us.

We ended up with an infant seat because we thought it would be great to use with a stroller and end up being easier on our backs for at least a year. In reality we never used it how we thought we were going to and we wished that we had gotten a convertible child seat to start with. This is not to discourage parents from using an infant seat, but rather to point out the importance of knowing what you hope to get out of it before you buy one.

You will eventually end up having to switch from an infant seat to a convertible option eventually when they grow out of it. With a second child we decided to go with a convertible car seat from the start and for us it was a smart choice. Since we had some experience with our first kid, we kind of knew what to get and what features would serve our family well. Here is a little guide we stuck to to help us wade through all the options out there that let us get the best convertible car seat for both us and our children.

What We Looked For In A New Car Seat

This time around we made a plan. We sat down and made a list of the features that we not only wanted for the safety and protection of our children, but we wanted a seat that was easy for us as parents to use every day. We used the convertible car seat reviews on Momma Trauma Blog as a starting point and weeded through the best rated models before we settled on one that we loved. Here are just some of the aspects we were looking for in a new child seat.


This is something that is always on a parents mind. We needed something that we could afford and we did not want to go over the set amount. Knowing how much you want to spend before hand and sticking to it requires some discipline but it can be done. Everyone has a different amount that they will want to spend, but this is a crucial part of the process. Luckily, we had a bigger budget this time around and our second child wound up with a much better overall car seat, and so did we.


If you have two or more cars that you plan on using the seat in then getting something that is light enough to switch back and forth will save you a lot of back strain. Some seats are more ideal for use in just one vehicle due to their overall weight. We knew this going in so we paid attention to the different weights of the car seats that made our list. My wife is kind of small so this was something that I needed to keep in mind when choosing different options.

Materials and Fabric

This is another vital aspect to enjoying your car seat. The right materials can impact the comfort, durability, and maintenance of your convertible car seat. For this we recommend spending time to read through the various customer reviews to see how parents react. You want something that will breathe and not get your child to sweat while riding in it. You also want fabrics that are easy to clean because children are extremely messy creatures. And since your seat will hopefully be used for a number of years, you will want to get something that has a proven track record of holding up over time.


This is something strictly for parents. This is a crucial step in using a child safety seat every day. You have to make sure that it is properly installed as well as make sure that your child is correctly strapped in to the seat in order to avoid causing more harm. Getting a seat that is easy to install will save you a ton of headaches. Find a seat that has a clear owner’s manual or enough videos online that you are comfortable knowing what you are doing. This is something that will also show up in owner feedback, so pay close attention. You do not want to fight your child’s car seat every time you want to switch it to another vehicle. We learned this lesson the hard way so it was something we wanted to correct this time around.

Learn From Our Mistakes

We hope that some of what we learned from dealing with our first child can help you as you try and find the ideal safety seat for your child. We took a different approach this time around and it has really paid off for us. Not only does our second child really enjoy going for rides in her new convertible car seat, but we enjoy using it as well. Getting a seat that does exactly what you need will end up saving you a ton of frustration in the long run. Put in the time beforehand and you won’t regret it.

Our Health

The Basics Of Juicing For Beginners

basics of juicing

Around this time 3 years ago I decided that it was finally time to do something positive about my diet. I never cooked for myself, always ate out, and my health was paying the price. There was nothing drastically wrong with me, I just felt lethargic and out of energy by the end of the day. I knew that something had to change and so I made a New Year’s resolution to improve my lifestyle. I knew I needed to eat better, improve my nutrition, and even exercise a bit more.

This is when I first started doing some research on ways to improve my situation. I had a friend who had always tried to get me into juicing, but now I was actually open to the idea. I knew this was my opportunity so I went out and got me a shiny new juicer machine and never looked back. Within a month I had noticed a stark change into the way that I felt, especially at the beginning and end of my day. I had energy, I wasn’t as out of gas, and I was generally surprised with the results. I wasn’t overweight when I started, but I had even managed to drop a few pounds. Ever since then I have been a huge proponent of juicing fruits and vegetables and have tried to get others to make the change.

Juicing has plenty of benefits but it is not any better than eating whole foods. It is, however, more convenient and will take up less of your time. The amount of nutrients that your body will be getting from drinking a glass of freshly made juice will drastically improve the way that you feel. You should still eat your veggies and some fruit as the fiber they contain are beneficial to your digestive system. Think of juicing as a supplement rather than a complete replacement.

Where To Start?

If you are in the same situation I was once in and are looking for a means to elevate your daily habits to something a little more healthy then juicing may be the right answer. Below are some of the basics that we have put together in an effort to help get you started in the right direction.

Buying A New Juicer

You are going to need something to extract that wholesome juice from the pulp and this is where having a juicer comes into play. There are basically two different methods of juicing and types of juicers that most people use in their home. Many people agonize about whether to get a masticating or centrifugal juicing machine. Here is a quick break down on the differences between the two.


These types of juicers are extremely fast. Their speed does produce a lot more noise than a masticating juicer. They are great for hard foods like carrots, and they are less efficient with leafy foods like spinach. Centrifugal juicers are typically very simple to use and to clean. These types of machines are generally less expensive as well.


This method of juicing is going to be a little bit slower and requires a bit more patience. It will be a lot more quieter to operate which is one of the advantages of juicing this way. These types of machines are also great for leafy greens and get a lot more juice out of these types of foods. They are going to be a little more expensive as well.

Our Advice

There are trade-offs for both of these types of juicers. If you are unsure if juicing is something that you will make a daily routine and don’t want to spend a lot, we suggest you get a centrifugal juicer to start. You can get a decent model for between $100 and $150. Don’t go cheap as you will instantly regret it. Cheap juicers wobble, don’t provide adequate juice yield, and they are generally a waste of time and money. You can get both centrifugal and masticating juicer reviews on Veggie Files that cover all of the current top name brands.

If you find that you enjoy juicing regularly you can always upgrade later and give your current machine to a friend or family member and pay it forward. You can also sell your old juicer on Craigslist to help pay for your new one.

The Types Of Foods That You Juice

Now that you have a juicer it is time to start using it. The produce section of your local market may have been a section that you haven’t spent much time in the past, but now it is going to be somewhere to linger. Finding fruits and vegetables that will both benefit your health and taste good in the process is going to be a major part of your weekly routine. This also happens to be one of my favorite parts. It is almost a new past time. Finding recipes to try and getting the ingredients together gives me a sense of being more in control of my overall nutrition.

Green Juicing

leafy green vegetablesIf you want to maximize your nutrient intake then making green juice is the way to go. While masticating juicers are better at this centrifugal juicers are still capable of juicing leafy greens. You may have to rerun the pulp through the juicer again, but if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of money to spend then don’t let this stop you.

Food like kale and spinach provide an extremely concentrated dose of important vitamins and minerals that can have a substantial impact. The taste of straight up green juice can be kind of powerful so you should always look to mix them with other ingredients. Carrots, apples, berries, and lemon are some of the most popular fruits and veggies that people use to cover up the strong taste of green juice. They also add their own nutritional benefits that make them worth using.

If you find later on that you would like to juice more greens and juicing is something that you enjoy, then it may be time to replace your centrifugal juicer with a masticating model. These are going to be more efficient for you and less will go to waste. It will also help reducing oxidizing the juice and will let you store it for longer in your refrigerator.

One of the positive aspects of juicing is that there are plenty of recipes out there to keep it from getting boring. Experimenting is fun and it is a vital part of being up to keep up a routine. The less work it seems like the more likely you are to use your juicer every day so it is vital to keep mixing things up.

Is It Worth All The Effort?

If you ever looked at what is recommend that you eat every day to maintain a healthy diet you will realize just how much of your time is going to be spent eating. If you are not a big salad eater then this is all going to seem like a big chore. Juicing, on the other hand, will help you condense all of the fresh foods you should be eating daily down to just one glass. A few minutes juicing can save you hours later on. It might take work at first to develop a love for it as well as a routine that you can get into, but the positives will outweigh the negatives if you can stick with it. This is something that has the potential to improve the quality of your life as well as lengthen it. It is something that has changed my outlook and is definitely worth the effort.