Eating well abroad

Despite a generous cost-of-living stipend in my student loan, I’m going to have to be smart and frugal about my food budget. I’m also going to try hard to eat fresh, healthy food, cut back on soda (which is more expensive there anyway, so I have a good incentive) and eat out rarely (although I may splurge on quiz-night chips).

Luckily Canterbury has a Sainsbury and a Tesco, and the university has an on-campus grocery store. My dorm also has a full kitchen. I find it easier to eat well when I’m on my own and not in a time rush.

So what am I planning to do?

The main things I cut out in Indianapolis, my first major foray into regularly and knowingly not eating crap, were red meat, soda and packaged sweets. I didn’t fudge on the soda until the Olympics started and I needed a caffeine fix one night on the Star’s sports desk. As a side note, I lost a ton of weight (which I promptly gained back as soon as I got back to Lawrence; thanks, Chick-Fil-A and Pizza Hut).

I know vegetarianism isn’t realistic for me, namely because I A) like meat and B) am fairly picky about vegetables. I prefer raw spinach and baby greens, loathe onions, am allergic to mushrooms in general and like my tomatoes sun-dried. Luckily spinach is one of the best things you can eat.

As far as meat and protein go, my Indianpolis diet consisted mainly of chicken, salmon, eggs, nuts and turkey. I love salmon, something my parents don’t care for. It’ll be nice to justify getting salmon steaks or smoked salmon just for myself.

The only fruits I’m not big on are citrus fruits and peaches, although I love their juices. Blueberries, raspberries, apples, strawberries, kiwis, pomegranates, mangoes, pears; they’re all good.

I’d love to make my own bread (I bought a loaf of whole-wheat bread at Kansas City’s City Market last week that was to die for), but that probably isn’t realistic. I’m going to try to stick to whole wheat or rye bread. Regarding dairy, I like milk and many varieties of cheese and yogurt, although I do worry about the fat and salt in some of it.

I enjoy brown rice, basmati rice and black beans. Our backyard herb garden has yielded amazing basil, rosemary, parsley and thyme; cilantro is the only herb we don’t grow that I wish we did (our sprouts got rained out, sadly). My experimentation with Greek and Indian food has exposed me to a variety of different grains, proteins and spices, like bulgur wheat, hummus, tumeric, saffron and basic curry powder. I look forward to trying almond butter and fruit on toast, cilantro and lemon rice with black beans and fish, homemade trail mix and oatmeal with fruit and honey.

For beverages, I’m going to try to stick to low-fat milk, water, 100% fruit juice and tea, although I know coffee will probably be a continued vice.

I also tend to believe that healthy food isn’t more expensive than unhealth food and that access, not price, is the problem. That’s why I’m glad I have access to a variety of different grocers at school.

Happy eating, everyone.


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