The Daily Illini

Make an on-the-go food journal

By Molly Zupan, Special Sections Editor

Over the past two years as a college student, I have consumed a disgusting amount of junk food. This year, I have decided to make a change.

McDonalds, chocolate-covered pretzels and noodles were the bulk of my diet during freshman and sophomore years, but I think I’ve finally found a way to actually eat like I care about my health and my wallet.

I’ve decided to start this change because I’ve realized a busy schedule is no excuse for a poor diet or a neglected body and because my metabolism is no longer as high as it was in high school.

I started by searching for simple and healthy recipes on the internet. In an hour, I had compiled a heaping handful of new recipes to try that looked appetizing and easy to prepare.

Then, I bought a pocket-sized notebook and began crafting my own portable food journal and recipe book.

Putting this little book together has expanded my knowledge of healthy foods and efficient shopping, and it has made me more conscience of what I’m putting in my body.

If you have thought about running to a fast food restaurant instead of cooking in the past couple days, this is probably something you should consider doing too.

The first page of my food journal has a list of snacks I should eat in between classes and meals and if I’m hungry before I head to bed. Some of those snacks are apples, almonds, peaches, carrots, frozen pineapple, trail mix and veggie chips.

These snacks are affordable and rich in nutrients and fiber. And if you haven’t tried frozen pineapple, please do; it might change your life.

On the next page, I have a list of foods to have in my fridge and cabinets 24/7: pretzels, frozen fruit, soup, granola bars, turkey, peanut butter, sweet potatoes, spinach, quinoa and pasta are some of those foods.

I’m a busy bee, so these items are essential for my schedule and taste. If I have these foods in my apartment, I can easily make a quick meal or pack healthy snacks to throw in my book bag for later.

The next couple pages have a few of my mom’s best recipes. She can whip up a killer tortellini, chicken noodle soup and pasta salad. Soups, pasta and chili are great to make in big batches to eat for a few days, or even to share with roommates.

The rest of my food journal consists of meals I found online. Most of them include vegetables, chicken and grains, because I love them, and so I can use similar ingredients for various recipes.

On each page, I wrote the name of the recipe, along with the specific ingredients and the website I found it on. From there, all you need to do is bring the journal along when grocery shopping to refer to the contents of the recipe.

I love this method because it makes shopping an easier, quicker process. Instead of wandering around the store trying to plan meals in my head, I can just look at my journal.

When you’re ready to eat, collect the ingredients and refer to the website for step-by-step instructions. It’s that easy.

If you want to go a step further toward management and mindfulness, save some space in your journal to keep track of your daily diet. If you’re concerned about your diet or weight, this may help your state of mind, overall wellness or physical fitness.

I think my version of an on-the-go food journal is a great method for students who are looking to save time and money and learn how to manage a healthier, consistent diet.

Channel your inner chef and make your own food journal to help you find the satisfaction of cooking your own meals and controlling what you consume.

Molly is a junior in FAA.

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