I headed to Cal State Fullerton out of high school, baseball scholarship in hand. I found myself living in a dorm room as a young 18 year old with no clue how to be a man. Everything was new, and I was totally unaware how nutrition would impact me, either on the field or in terms of my health.
My tuition was paid for, but I still didn’t have much in the way of a bank account. When it came time to have a meal, I made friends with Del. Taco, that is. My go to meal was a Double Del Cheeseburger, those special wrinkly fries and a big ol’ coke with a lot of ice (I chewed the entire cupful). I quickly developed an affinity for beer, malt liquor in particular. I was good with Old English 800 or Mickey’s; they both did the trick.
While relatable, this lifestyle was not conducive to performance, whether academically or for an athlete trying to impress a coaching staff. By the end of the fall semester, I had blown my scholarship for a myriad of reasons. I ended up telling my folks that I was on my way back to Reseda.
I bought cheap beer and cheap food because I was uneducated and didn’t see any other option. This is what college kids do, right? Had I understood how these substances impacted my body, maybe I would have chosen to explore other options.
This is tricky because, generally speaking, locally sourced food is more expensive and organic food at the natural food stores will wipe you out. Fortunately, limited resources don’t mean you can’t have quality food with a little work. Remember, all you need to eat like a champion is water, protein, fruit and veggies. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re drinking your water. So let’s find the cheapest sources for the others.
- Milk- 49.6 grams per dollar
- Eggs- 48 grams per dollar
- Canned tuna- 36.1 grams per dollar
Pretty much any store nearby is going to have these few staples, whether a 7-11 or an on-campus store at your local college.
- Watermelon- 17 cents per cup
- Banana- 21 cents per cup
- Honeydew melon- 25 cents per cup
Even better, these fruits all have thick skin, so you have to worry less about buying them organically.
- Potatoes- 48 cents a pound
- Cauliflower- 55 cents a pound
- Cabbage- 62 cents a pound
If, for example, I was playing in the minor leagues, working on an exceptionally tight budget and had access to cooking gear and a freezer/fridge, I’d stock these foods and simply eat them in rotation. Scrambled eggs with the potatoes and veggies, side of fruit? Not bad. I would rotate these foods and eat in balance.
Unfortunately, we can’t all have access to cooking equipment, right? If you need options that can sit on shelves for longer periods of time, keep the tuna, the melon and the banana, and add foods like natural peanut butter, apples, citrus fruits and canned wild salmon. Your biggest challenge will be getting veggies, so grab things like purple cabbage and or spinach at a local grocery store and make it a part of your daily routine. This may be where you allocate the most funds, but it will be worth it.
Now, from a taste perspective, you may be lacking in variety. But, there’s the incentive you need to create a situation where you can spend a few bucks a week on spices (smile).
Let me know what your tricks are,