BCP Nutrition Info

Healthy food is something we work hard to provide at the BCP and Resource Center. When you visit, our options are there to supplement a nutritious, balanced diet. We aim to provide food that fits into any specific diet, whether that is religious, medical, or chosen. 

If you are in need of allergen-free foods due to a medical condition (allergy, Celiacs, etc.), please email bearcatspantry@ucmail.uc.edu



  • 1/2 can of potatoes, sliced 
  • 1.5 tablespoons of diced tomatoes 
  • 1.5 tablespoons black beans  
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup of spinach (or about one handful) 
  • Shredded cheese to taste 
  • Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste 


  • Using olive oil, sauté bell pepper and potatoes in a large skillet on medium high heat 
  • In a separate skillet cook eggs in your preferred way 
  • Once potatoes and peppers are warm and have slightly softened (about 3-5 minutes) add black beans, tomatoes, and spinach the skillet. Sauté for another 2 minutes and then take off heat.  
  • Add the eggs and potato + vegetable mixture to a plate or bowl 
  • Top with shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste and mix it all together. Enjoy!  

Makes 1 serving. As always, feel free to customize this recipe in whatever way you like! You can choose your favorite seasonings and vegetables to make it your own. 


  • 2 pounds of ground beef 
  • 2/3 cup brown rice – leave uncooked if using minute rice, cook according to directions if using regular rice 
  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes  
  • 1 head of cabbage  
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  • Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet and drain 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste  
  • Grease large glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray 
  • Mix rice with ground beef (if using minute rice, leave uncooked) 
  • Layer cabbage at bottom of the baking dish 
  • Pour ground beef + rice mixture over cabbage  
  • Pour 2 cans of stewed tomatoes and 2 cans full of water over top 
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 1.5 hours  
  • Take it out of the oven and enjoy!  

Makes ~7 servings. 


  • 2 tsp vegetable oil 
  • 1 small onion (peeled and diced) 
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped) 
  • ½ chili (red or green) (peeled and diced) 
  • 1 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin 
  • 2 tbs fresh coriander/cilantro (or more to taste) 
  • 180 g canned salad potatoes – drained and rinsed (one small can) 
  • 250 ml coconut milk (1 cup) 


  • If using fresh potatoes – peel, cut into bite sized pieces and simmer in lightly salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and set to one side. If using canned potatoes ignore this step
  • Put the oil in a pan or skillet. Fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until translucent.   
  • Add the spices and the chopped coriander/cilantro stalks and leaves. Cook for a minute until fragrant, stirring all the time.  
  • Add the potatoes and fry for another minute, making sure they are well coated with the spices.  
  • Pour over the coconut milk and cook over a low heat for 5–10 minutes until thickened, stirring from time to time.  
  • The curry is ready when the sauce is thickened and golden yellow, and the potatoes are soft. 

Makes 2 servings. Recipe sourced from Helen Best- Shaw at https://fussfreeflavours.com/easy-potato-curry-aloo-curry/


  • 1 box of mac n cheese 
  • 1 can of chicken (5 oz)  
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli (frozen or fresh) 


  • Cook one box of mac n cheese according to package directions 
  • Steam one cup of broccoli  
  • Mix in the chicken and steamed broccoli  
  • Enjoy!  

Makes 2-3 servings depending on the box of mac n cheese. 


  • Chicken  
  • Whole wheat tortilla  
  • Brown Rice 
  • Corn 
  • Black beans  
  • Salsa  
  • Guacamole (optional) 
  • Chili powder 
  • Black pepper 
  • Garlic powder  


  • Cook chicken (or drain can) and season with chili powder, black pepper, and garlic powder to taste 
  • Assemble all ingredients in the proportions you prefer in your tortilla 
  • Wrap the ends of the tortilla into a burrito and enjoy!  

Makes 1 serving. 


  • Tortillas 
  • About 10 oz of chicken (one large can or 2 medium chicken breasts), diced or shredded 
  • Green bell pepper, sliced 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced 
  • Shredded cheese (4 cheese blend) 
  • Chili powder 
  • Paprika 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Black pepper 


  • Cook chicken (or drain can) and season in bowl with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste 
  • Sauté bell pepper and onion for ~5 minutes on medium heat (until beginning to soften). Remove from heat and place in bowl 
  • On medium heat butter skillet and add one tortilla 
  • Immediately top tortilla with chicken, peppers, onion, and cheese 
  • Lightly butter the top of another tortilla and place it over the mixture 
  • Flip once the tortilla has lightly browned (~2 minutes) 
  • Cook for another ~2 minutes (until lightly browned) and remove from heat 
  • Repeat process until ingredients are gone 
  • Serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or whatever you like. Enjoy!  

Makes ~4 servings. 


  • 1 whole wheat tortilla 
  • About 2.5 - 5.0 oz of chicken (about 1/2 to 1 small can of chicken or 1 small chicken breast), diced or shredded 
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced 
  • 1 handful of spinach 
  • Shredded cheese of choice  
  • Sauce à suggestions include ranch, salsa, barbeque, hot sauce, or hummus 


  • Cook chicken or drain can 
  • Place 1 whole wheat tortilla on a plate and microwave for about 10 seconds to warm it up 
  • Load up the tortilla with chicken, bell pepper slices, spinach, cheese, and a “sauce” of your choosing!  
  • Wrap edges of tortilla to contain food  
  • If you prefer you wraps warm, put it in the oven for about 5 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees F 
  • Enjoy! 
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up with different spices, seasonings, and sauces 

Makes 1 serving. 


  • 8 ounces of pasta (1/2 box) 
  • 1 can of chickpeas 
  • 1 bell pepper, diced 
  • 1.5 cups of spinach or kale  
  • 1.5 T olive oil 
  • Basil 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Olive Oil 
  • Parmesan Cheese  


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions 
  • Heat 1 T oil in a medium sized skillet and sauté chickpeas and bell pepper over medium heat for about 8 minutes  
  • Add spinach or kale at the end and sauté for one more minute, then remove from heat 
  • Drain pasta and add chickpeas, bell pepper, and spinach/kale  
  • Top with dried/fresh basil, salt, and pepper to taste 
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
  • Mix well and enjoy! 

Makes ~4 servings.  


  • 1 pound ground beef  
  • 1 can kidney beans  
  • 1 can pinto beans 
  • 1 can of tomato sauce 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes  
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped 


  • Cook ground beef and onion in a skillet until ground beef is no longer pink. Drain excess liquid. 
  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for an additional 45 minutes and then remove from heat 
  • Enjoy on its own or top with cheese, top with crackers, or enjoy with a side of bread or salad.  

Makes 6-8 servings. 


  • 1 cup Pancake Mix 
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (regular or cinnamon) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon  
  • 1 Apple, diced (optional) 
  • 1 tbsp Honey (optional) 


  • **Different pancake mixes have different instructions. Make sure to follow your instructions to get best results. Add about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of applesauce for every 1 cup of pancake mix. The applesauce adds liquid so you may need to decrease the amount of liquid you add to make sure the batter doesn’t get too runny. Below is what I did: 
  • Add 1 cup pancake mix to a bowl 
  • Add about 1/2 cup applesauce 
  • Add 1 tsp cinnamon (can add more to get a stronger flavor) 
  • Add 1/2 cup of water  
  • Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and cook the pancakes until golden-brown  
  • Top pancakes with whatever you like! I did diced apples, a drizzle of honey, and extra cinnamon 

Makes 2 servings. 


  • 1 can of corn 
  • 1 can of black beans 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning 


  • Drain and rinse black beans and put them in a medium bowl 
  • Drain corn and add to the bowl 
  • Drain the diced tomatoes and add to the bowl 
  • Top with cumin, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Can add more seasonings as desired. 
  • Mix it all together and enjoy with tortilla chips! 


  • Build your base. Start with 1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of milk (any kind), and 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt. Mix. 
  • Choose the add ins you want and mix them into your base until they are evenly distributed in the oats. 
  • Put a top on your container (mason jars work great!) and put it in your fridge. Let it sit overnight or for at least 4 hours.  
  • Once you are ready to eat the overnight oats add any additional toppings. Mix it all up and enjoy! 

Add in Suggestions:

Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, Nutella, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, strawberries, apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, peaches, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, vanilla, chia seeds, flax seed, coconut flakes 

Topping Suggestions:

Extra fruit, almonds, walnuts, granola 

**Add toppings right before consuming to add extra flavor and avoid them from getting soggy 

Example Combinations:

  • Strawberries + raspberries + Nutella  
  • Peanut Butter + banana + honey + cinnamon + chocolate chips + chia seeds 
  • Blueberries + raspberries + lemon juice + chia seeds + granola  
  • Almond butter + strawberries + banana + honey + almonds  
  • Apple chunks + peanut butter + cinnamon + honey + chocolate chips 


  • If using fresh potatoes wash and dice potatoes, drizzle in a small amount of oil, and roast in the oven on 375 degrees F until soft (~25 minutes). If using canned potatoes heat according to package directions. 
  • Cook/prepare your extra protein option. 
  • Select vegetables of your choosing and prepare them how you like. If you like your vegetables cooked, you can sauté them in the pan while you cook your eggs. Feel free to choose any of your favorite vegetables, the ones on this list are just suggestions. 
  • Cook eggs in your preferred way. 
  • Combine eggs, potatoes, vegetables, and extra protein in a bowl. Top with your favorite cheese.  
  • Pick your seasonings/extra flavors and sprinkle them on to taste. Again, choose any combination you like! One example could be salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. 
  • Mix it all together and enjoy! 

Choose your eggs:

  • Over Easy 
  • Over Medium 
  • Poached 
  • Scrambled 
  • Sunny Side Up 

Choose your extra protein:

  • Bacon 
  • Black Beans 
  • Chicken 
  • Chorizo 
  • Ham 
  • Sausage 
  • Tofu 
  • Turkey 

Choose your vegetables:

  • Avocado 
  • Bell Pepper 
  • Green Onion 
  • Jalapeño Peppers 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Spinach 
  • Tomato 
  • Yellow Onion 
  • Zucchini

 Choose your cheese:

  • Cheddar 
  • Feta 
  • Goat Cheese 
  • Monterrey Jack 
  • Mozzarella 
  • Parmesan 

Choose your extra flavors:

  • Basil 
  • Black Pepper 
  • Dill 
  • Garlic Powder 
  • Hot Sauce 
  • Italian Seasoning 
  • Salt 
  • Onion Powder 
  • Oregano 
  • Parsley 
  • Red Pepper Flakes 
  • Thyme  

Be Yourself!

If there’s something you like that isn’t on here, don’t hesitate to try it out! There are so many possible combinations.


  • Choose and prepare your carbohydrate base. 
  • Choose and prepare the protein option(s) of your choice.  
  • Choose and prepare your favorite vegetables. You can choose to cook them or leave them raw.  
  • Mix it all together. 
  • Top with your favorite sauce and any additional seasonings.  
  • Enjoy! 

Choose your base:

  • Brown Rice 
  • Potatoes 
  • Quinoa 
  • Sweet Potatoes 
  • White Rice 

Choose your protein:

  • Black Beans 
  • Chicken 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Ground Beef 
  • Salmon 
  • Shrimp 
  • Tempeh 
  • Tofu 

Choose your sauce:

  • Greek Yogurt + Lemon Juice 
  • Salad Dressings  
  • Salsa 
  • Soy Sauce  
  • Teriyaki Sauce  
  • Yum Yum Sauce 

Choose your vegetables:

  • Avocado 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels Sprouts 
  • Cabbage 
  • Carrots 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Corn 
  • Edamame  
  • Green Beans 
  • Kale 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Onions 
  • Peas 
  • Peppers 
  • Red Cabbage 
  • Spinach 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Zucchini 

Be Yourself! 

If there’s something you like that isn’t on here, don’t hesitate to try it out! There are so many possible combinations.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil 
  • 1 medium onion, sliced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1–2 tablespoons curry powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk 
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges, for garnish (optional) 
  • Naan bread and rice, to serve (optional) 


  • In a large, heavy bottomed pot or high-walled pan, heat the oil over medium-low. Add the sliced onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and deep golden, about 15 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water at a time if the onions get dry. 
  • Increase the heat to medium. Add the curry powder and cumin and stir until toasted, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and gently scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden or rubber spoon to release the any browned spices or onions stuck to the bottom. 
  • Pour in the coconut milk and add the chickpeas the pot. Stir and reduce to low heat. Let simmer until the sauce is thickened and the chickpeas are slightly softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as necessary. 
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges over basmati rice and/or with naan. 

Makes 6 servings. Recipe from Morgan at https://hostthetoast.com/easy-chickpea-curry/ 

Apple Pie Oatmeal:

Ingredients: Oats, applesauce, apple, walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar


  • Cook 1/2 cup oats to reach a thick texture 
  • Once the oats are cooked, mix in 1/4 cup apple sauce, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, and cinnamon to taste 
  • Chop up an apple in small pieces and add about 1/2 small apple  
  • Chop up walnuts into medium sized chunks and add about 2 tablespoons  
  • Mix it all up and enjoy!  

Sweet Pear Oatmeal:

Ingredients: Oats, pears, walnuts, cinnamon, honey or maple syrup 


  • Cook 1/2 cup oats to reach desired texture 
  • Cut about 1/4 cup pears into medium sized pieces and add to oatmeal 
  • Chop up walnuts into medium sized chunks and add about 2 tablespoons 
  • Top with cinnamon and honey/maple syrup to taste 
  • Mix it all up and enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal: 

Ingredients: Oats, banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, honey, chocolate chips


  • Cook 1/2 cup oats to reach desired texture (suggested runny because peanut butter will thicken it) 
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of peanut butter to cooked oats 
  • Mash 1/2 large banana and mix into oats  
  • Add cinnamon and honey to taste and mix 
  • Slice other 1/2 of banana and add to the oatmeal along with 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips 
  • Mix it all up and enjoy!  


  • 1 can of sliced potatoes (15 oz)  
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced 
  • 1 cup of celery (about 2 stalks), diced 
  • 1 cup of broccoli (about one small head of broccoli), chopped in small pieces  
  • 1/2 tablespoon dill 
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 


  • Cook potatoes according to package directions 
  • Hard boil 2 eggs (one method is to put eggs in water, bring water to a boil, allow them to boil for 12 minutes and then drain the water and rinse eggs with cool water). Peel and slice hard boiled eggs.  
  • Add all ingredients and seasonings into a large bowl and mix until all seasonings are evenly dispersed.  
  • Enjoy!  


  • 1.5 tablespoons of corn 
  • 1.5 tablespoons of black beans 
  • 2 tablespoons of diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice 
  • About 4 oz chicken (~one small chicken breast), diced or shredded 
  • Italian seasoning & cumin  
  • Yum yum sauce 


  • Cook rice according to package directions 
  • Cook chicken (or drain if canned) 
  • Put corn, black beans, tomatoes, and chicken (if not warm) into a bowl and microwave until warm 
  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl 
  • Add Italian seasoning and cumin to taste 
  • Make homemade yum yum sauce by using one tablespoon of mayo and mixing in paprika to taste. Add yum yum sauce & mix it all together. Enjoy!  

Makes 1 serving. 


  • 1 pound ground beef 
  • 1 can sloppy Joe sauce  
  • 1 package of hamburger buns (optional) 
  • 2 carrots, shredded (optional) 
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (optional) 
  • 1 small onion, diced (optional) 
  • Pickle chips (optional) 


  • Cook ground beef in a skillet. After cooking for 3-4 minutes add carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until hamburger is no longer pink. Drain.  
  • Add 1 can of sloppy joe sauce. 
  • Lightly toast a hamburger bun and then fill with sloppy joe. If you choose, top with pickle chips.  
  • Grab a napkin and enjoy!  


  • I box of spaghetti (16 oz) 
  • 1 pound of ground beef  
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (15 oz) 
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes (15 oz) 
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (15 oz) 
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic OR about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • Black pepper to taste 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon parsley (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon basil (optional) 
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (optional) 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (optional) 
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli (optional) 
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)  


  • Cook ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink. If including peppers and onions, cook those with it. Drain excess liquid. 
  • Mix in diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Stir until combined. Let simmer on low heat for an additional 15 minutes.  
  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions. 
  • Top spaghetti with meat sauce, and if you choose, steamed broccoli and cheese.  
  • Enjoy!  

Makes ~8 servings. 


  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped 
  • 1 inch ginger - finely chopped 
  • 1 - 3 green or red chilies of choice 
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder or chaat masala 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 x 326g tin sweetcorn 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander


  •  Melt the butter over medium high heat and then pour in the garlic, ginger and chopped chilies. 
  • Fry for about a minute until the garlic become soft. 
  • Add the curry powder or chaat masala along with the chili powder and fry for a further 30 seconds or so. 
  • Now add the sweet corn and stir it around in the butter mixture until it is heated through. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Serve garnished with the fresh coriander. 

Makes 2-4 servings. Recipe from Dan Toombs https://greatcurryrecipes.net/2016/11/29/spicy-indian-sweetcorn/ 


  • 8 oz pasta or egg noodle of your choosing (about 1/2 box) 
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (10.5 oz) 
  • 1 can of tuna (5 oz)  
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas  
  • About 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choosing – shredded cheddar is recommended


  • Cook and drain pasta according to directions on package 
  • Add cream of mushroom soup, tuna, and peas to the pasta and mix 
  • Put pasta mixture into a baking dish and top with a thin layer of shredded cheese  
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes (until warm) at 375 degrees F  
  • Take it out of the oven and enjoy! 

Makes 4 servings. 


  • 1 can of tuna (5 oz) 
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced 
  • 3 dill pickle spears OR 2 stalks of celery, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise  
  • Black pepper to taste  


  • Drain tuna and put in a medium sized bowl 
  • Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix!  
  • Can be enjoyed with crackers, on a piece of toast, or anyway you like! 

Makes 2-3 servings. 

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Make a plan for what meals and snacks you will have for the week. Try incorporating any foods you have at home into your meals. Write down all the ingredients you need for the meals. If you like to meal prep, choosing one or two staples for every meal could be helpful. For example, one night you could cook chicken and then have it ready to use throughout the week for different meals like grilled chicken, chicken fettuccini alfredo, chicken and rice stir fry, and chicken quesadillas! After writing down your ingredients list for meals write down the snacks and miscellaneous items you want to have for the week. Then, look around your house and cross anything off your list that you already have. What is left will become your shopping list. Take this with you to the store and try your best to stick to it.  You can even find free printable templates to follow if you need help organizing a list. 
  • Love Your Leftovers: If you get creative enough, you can always find a use for leftovers! If you make a meal and have extra, save it in a sealed container and enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack the next day. If it isn’t something you want again, ask your friends or coworkers. There is likely someone else that would love your leftovers! You can also use leftovers from one meal to create something new. For example, if you grill chicken one night you can use any leftovers you have to make chicken fajitas the next day. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! 
  • Use Your Freezer: If you are someone who struggles to finish their food before it goes bad, your freezer should be your best friend. When buying things like bread or meat that won’t be used within the next few days, putting it in the freezer will ensure it stays good until you are ready to eat it. Depending on what food, putting it in the freezer can increase shelf life anywhere from 1 month to 18 months. For more information go to https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts. You can also freeze leftover meals if you know you won’t be in the mood for it in the next couple of days. Some examples of meals that freeze well include chilis, soups, pancakes, cooked meat, pasta dishes, and desserts. When putting food in your freezer, make sure to store it properly to avoid freezer burn. Using specific freezer bags or containers is a good way to do this. Plus, freezing your food for smaller amounts of time and keeping your freezer door shut are extra ways to help avoid freezer burn. 
  • Stay Organized: Don’t let yourself lose food in your pantry or fridge. Check in with these spaces often and focus on keeping food that will go bad the quickest at the front. If you see the food more often it will be more likely to get used.  
  • Shop Smart: Try your best to stick to your list when in the store. Otherwise, you can get carried away and buy more than you are able to eat. Sometimes buying in bulk can seem appealing because it is cheaper. Don’t let yourself get carried away by the deals. If it is more than you can eat before it goes bad, it isn’t really a saving!  Only buy fresh produce that will get eaten within the next few days. If you want to buy more fruits/vegetables but fear they won’t get eaten quickly enough, buy some frozen or canned options to supplement your fresh produce. These will last much longer than fresh options and do not have to be eaten within the next couple of days. 

Understand Product Dating: 


In general, cooking at home is a much healthier option than eating at restaurants. Those who eat from restaurants are typically consuming food that is higher in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. People who eat from restaurants in high amounts are at increased risk for developing type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight gain. Also,  eating from restaurants can take a toll on your bank account. Cooking from home is a great way to eat healthier and save some money.  

Tips for Healthy Eating at Restaurants: 

  • Have your own sides- Sometimes we all find ourselves getting food from restaurants out of convenience. Whether you are short on time or busy traveling, you can make the meal healthier by having your own side. For example, if you are road tripping try packing a bag of carrots and some apples. Then when you stop to order food just order a sandwich (or whatever you like as your main entree) and skip the sides and drinks. Then if you are still hungry after the main course you can have your carrots or apples as a side. You can do this same thing when you are at home as well, only ordering a main dish and having your sides at home. 

  • Eat mindfully- The portion sizes at restaurants are often way larger than what one serving size is. Don’t be in a race to eat quickly. Allow yourself to eat slowly and pause every now and then to check in with yourself and see if you are still hungry or if you are just eating because there is food in front of you. Who knows, you may realize you fill up quicker than you think, and you’ll get to have some leftovers for later! 

  • Look for how things are prepared- Choose options that say “grilled,” “roasted,” or “baked” rather than “fried,” “breaded,” “crispy,” or “battered.” The terms “fried,” “breaded,” “crispy,” and “battered” often mean the food will have extra fat and calories. 

  • Enjoy yourself- Let yourself enjoy your meal! There is nothing wrong about the occasional meal from a restaurant, even if it is an “unhealthy” meal. Remember, everything in moderation. Try not to make meals from restaurants a consistent habit, but also let yourself enjoy the occasional meal out.


  • FREE 
  • Search “create Kroger plus account.” It will take less than 2 minutes!  
  • Being a Kroger plus member will help you save money at checkout, give you access to extra savings and coupons, and even help you save on gas through Kroger fuel points 


  • FREE 
  • Search “create Target circle account.” It is a super quick process to get signed up 
  • Being a Target Circle member will give you access to tons of extra deals and savings, give you 1% back on your purchases, and give you a birthday gift of 5% off your purchases.  


  • $5/month, you can get your first month free 
  • Search “create CVS rewards account” 
  • Having a CVS “CarePass” gives you access to 20% off CVS health brand products, free same-day prescription delivery, free shipping, and access to a 24/7 pharmacist helpline 


  • FREE 
  • Search “create Walgreens rewards account” 
  • Being a “myWalgreens” member gives you access to 1% Walgreens cashback storewide, 5% Walgreens cashback on the Walgreens brand products, and “only for you” exclusive deals 

*These are just some examples. It never hurts to look into the rewards programs of the stores you shop at most! *

  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry. This increases your chances of buying things you don’t really need and spending more money. 
  • Emphasize the perimeter of the store. The perimeter of the grocery store typically has your produce, meats, dairy, and fresh bakery items.  
  • Bring a list! This will help you stay organized as you shop. 
  • Bring your own bags. This can help prevent waste and make transporting your groceries a little bit easier. 
  • Avoid crowded days/times at the grocery store. Each grocery store is different, but a common crowded day is Sunday afternoons. If you can, avoid your store’s crowded time to have the most peaceful experience and have access to the best options.  
  • Don’t let a sale tag convince you to buy something you don’t need! Sales are great, but they can end up costing you a lot of money if you buy things just because they are on sale and not because you actually need them. 
  • Check for damage! Especially on fragile items such as produce and eggs it is worth your time to check them over for damage before purchasing. 
  • Do some mental math. As you put things in your cart, round the prices to the nearest dollar and keep a rough tally in your head of how much money everything is. This will help you avoid the checkout surprise.  

Start Small and Build From There  

  • Start by planning one meal a week, and slowly increase your planning until you have your 5 week days of meals planned out .Start by thinking of recipes with ingredients that you already have at home. If you have bell peppers that you don't know what to do with, try searching "recipes with bell peppers" and go from there 

Use Storage Containers 

  • Make sure you have plenty of storage containers. It is especially helpful if you get ones that can be used in the microwave or in the freezer. This way you can easily warm up your food or store it in the freezer for later 

Stay Organized 

  • Use lists or meal planning charts to organize your thoughts Think of each individual food you need for the week and write it down. Then go through your kitchen and cross off the things you already have. You can also keep a running list of things you need 

Use Your Freezer  

  • If you have extra time one day, don't be afraid to make extra and freeze for later. Doubling your recipe can be an easy way to make extra for later. Your future self will thank you! 

Stay Consistent 

  • Have a specific time/day that you plan to meal prep each week 

Main Tips:

  • Take note of the number of servings per container & the serving size 
  • Look for lower amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars 
  • Look for increased fiber and vitamins/minerals  
  • Take note of the protein content. A low or high protein content won’t make a food either “healthy” or “unhealthy,” but it is important to be aware of to make sure you are getting enough protein 
  • Look at calorie content. Remember., this is per serving. A low-calorie food isn’t. automatically “healthy” and a high calorie food isn’t automatically “unhealthy.” It is important to be aware of calories to make sure you are eating the proper amount in a day for your needs, no to determine whether or not a food is considered a “healthy” choice 
  • General Rule for Daily Value Percentages: Less than 5% = low, Over 20% = high 
  • Remember that everything on here is PER SERVING. When calculating how many calories, fat, protein, etc. you are getting from this food you need to multiply that by the number of servings you consume 

But don't forget...

  • Total fat is not as important to take note of as the saturated fat and trans-fat. If something is high in a total amount of fat, but low in both saturated and trans fats, that means it has a lot of unsaturated fat, which is good for you in moderate amounts. Saturated fat is important to limit in our diets because it is harmful to our health, especially when consumed in excess. High saturated fat intake increases LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and increases risk for heart disease. Trans fat is more harmful to our health than saturated fat because not only does it increase LDL cholesterol, but it lowers HDL cholesterol, our “good cholesterol.” When looking at food labels, we want low saturated fat and no trans-fat.  
  • We want to look for lower amounts of sodium in our foods because sodium is a nutrient that is generally over-consumed. High sodium intake increases blood pressure, which can lead to other complications such as heart attack and stroke. Sodium is found in high amounts in many of the foods emphasized in the United States, so it is important to be aware of in order to make sure we do not over-consume. However, sodium is a necessary part of our diets, so don’t try to avoid it completely!  
  • We want lower added sugars in our foods because added sugars are adding “empty calories” to the food. This means you are adding calories to the food without adding any nutrients. It is okay to consume foods with some added sugars, however it is important to be aware of because added sugars can make it easy to over-eat and consume more calories than you need in a day.  
  • When looking at a food label we want to see foods with higher fiber and vitamin/mineral contents. Fiber is important to keep our GI system running smoothly and prevent constipation. It can also help lower LDL cholesterol and improve satiety, which will help us feel full for longer and prevent over-eating. Lastly, fiber also helps slow carbohydrate absorption. This will help avoid the blood sugar spikes after eating and could help reduce risk for type II diabetes. We want foods with lots of vitamins and minerals because that means we are getting more nutrients from the calories we are consuming! This shows us there are less “empty calories” in the food.  
  • Use Store Loyalty Programs: Being a member of store loyalty programs can give you access to coupons, cash back, and extra savings. They are typically free and easy to sign up for! 
  • Shop Store BrandStore brand options are cheaper and generally just as good as the name brand! 
  • Buy in Season Produce: Shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season. These will be cheaper and often taste better. You can check USDA website for details on what is currently in season. 
  • Look for Coupons: Search for online coupons and deals before shopping. Use these with caution. Make sure not to get caught up in the deal and only buy things you actually need. 
  • Start Small: Only buy small amounts of fresh produce that will get eaten in the next few days.  Buy some frozen or canned foods to supplement the fresh food. 
  • Stick To Your List: Plan your meals/snacks for the week and write it on paper. Make a list and take it with you to the store. Try to buy only the things on your list. 
  • Look At Unit Pricing: The price label in the store will show the unit price, or the price/oz. This can help you find the cheapest options, which are generally the bulk options. Be careful not to buy in bulk unless it is something that will get eaten before it goes bad 
  • Avoid Pre-Made Meals: The pre--made meals, pre-cooked meats, and pre-cut vegetables are generally more expensive. Although they are convenient, it may not be worth the extra cost. 


  • Scrambled eggs à Crack the eggs into a microwave safe bowl and mix. Add any toppings or seasonings you like. Put the bowl in the microwave on high for ~30 seconds at a time. Every 30 seconds check on your eggs and stir them. Keep putting them in the microwave for ~30 seconds at a time until cooked to your preferred consistency.  
  • Bring stale bread back to life à Wrap the bread in a damp paper towel and place it in the microwave. Or you can place the bread in the microwave unwrapped, but next to a bowl of water. Heat the bread for ~10-15 seconds. Repeat if needed but keep an eye on it to avoid over cooking.  
  • Steam vegetables à The microwave is an easy way to cook up frozen vegetables or to steam raw vegetables. Just put the vegetables in a microwave safe bowl with some water (about half way to covering them). Then put the bowl in the microwave for one minute at a time until the vegetables are cooked to your preferred texture. Be careful, the bowl and water will be HOT, handle with care.  
  • Make a baked potato à Start by washing your potato well. Then grab a fork and stab your potato several times in different spots. This will allow the steam to escape while it cooks. Then place your potato on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 4 minutes. Then flip the potato to the other side and microwave for another 3-4 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on microwave, so you may need to add an additional couple of minutes to get the texture you like. Then simply cut your potato open and add whatever toppings you prefer.  
  • Mug cake à There are endless mug cake recipes online. Some of them are elaborate, and some of them require as few as 3 ingredients. Go find a flavor you like and have fun baking!  
  • Oatmeal à Microwaving your oats instead of using the stove top is a great way to save cooking and clean up time. Simply place your oats in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water (I use almond milk sometimes too!). Then start by microwaving for 1:45 on high heat. Be careful handling the bowl, it will be HOT. Stir your oats and put it in for more time if you have not reached desired texture. Then top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!  
  • Minute rice à minute rice is a great staple that can quickly be cooked in the microwave. This can be the base of a great meal and leave you with little clean up.  


  • Avoid cooking raw meats in the microwave, especially thick cuts. Microwaves can cook unevenly, leaving one half of your meat cooked and the other half raw. Meats like bacon are okay to cook in the microwave because it is so thin.  
  • Keep food covered à This can help with splattering as food cooks and avoid an annoying clean up  
  • Stir in betweenà if something is going in the microwave for a long time it can sometimes be helpful to pause halfway through and stir your food. This can help avoid you ending up with hot and cold spots. 
  • Avoid thick layers à when you can, avoid layers of food or thick items. If you can spread your food out on a plate/bowl it will cook more evenly and quickly than if it is all in a pile.


Try to choose snacks with more than one food group. For example, something with protein and carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, or carbohydrates and healthy fats.  Try to sneak fruits and vegetables into your snacks when you can and remember to mix up your snacks and try new foods and combinations!  Some examples are included below:

  • Naked juice + jerky 
  • Peanut butter crackers + milk 
  • Almonds + pretzels 
  • Popcorn + peanuts 
  • Mandarin oranges + granola bar 
  • Peach slices + mixed nuts  
  • Apple + Dip- Mix vanilla Greek yogurt with some peanut butter and chocolate chips. Slice your apple, dip it in the yogurt mixture, and enjoy!  
  • Apple Nachos à Slice your apple and spread it out on a plate. In a small bowl melt a tablespoon of peanut butter. Drizzle the peanut butter over your apples and top with a sprinkle of chocolate chips, cinnamon, and honey.  
  • Frozen chocolate banana- Melt chocolate in a bowl (avoid burning by melting in small increments and stirring in between). Slice your banana and stick popsicle sticks or tooth picks in the middle of each slice. Dip your banana slices in the chocolate until covered. You can sprinkle peanuts on top of the chocolate if you choose. Place bananas on a pan covered with wax paper and put in the freezer. Let freeze for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!  
  • Power Balls- Use oats as a base for a tasty treat. There are plenty of different combinations to explore but one recipe is to mix old fashioned oats, Nutella, chocolate chips, and chia seeds in a bowl. Once combined form the mixture into about 1 inch balls. Refrigerate and enjoy!  
  • Parfait- Mix vanilla Greek yogurt with your favorite berries and granola. If you are looking for something a little extra sweet you can mix in some peanut butter, chocolate chips, or honey as well. Enjoy!  
  • Frozen Yogurt Bites-  Cut your favorite berries into small chunks. Mix your berries in a bowl with your favorite yogurt. Place in lined cupcake tins and put in freezer until frozen through (will take a few hours). You can mix it up by changing the yogurt/fruit used, mixing in peanut butter, mixing in coconut, adding chocolate chips, adding chia seeds, or adding granola. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!  

Plant-based diets are diets that emphasize foods from plants and limit or exclude animal-based foods.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts/seeds are emphasized. 

Plant-based diets can provide many health benefits such as decreased risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type II diabetes. However, simply decreasing animal products does not make your eating pattern automatically “healthy.” In order to get the health benefits from a plant-based lifestyle it is important that you are emphasizing all the proper food groups and being aware of nutrients that you are more likely to be deficient in when not consuming animal products. 

Nutrients to be aware of:

  • Protein- Animal products are a great source of protein. Good examples of plant-based protein include legumes, lentils, quinoa, soy/soybeans, tofu, and tempeh.  
  • Iron- Meat is a great source of iron. When eating a plant-based diet it is important to make sure you are eating iron rich foods such as soybeans, lentils, spinach, tofu, or fortified cereals.  
  • Calcium- Dairy is a great source of calcium, so if you are limiting or abstaining from dairy it is important to emphasize high calcium foods such as broccoli, kale, and fortified cereals/non-dairy milks. 
  • Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal products. If you don’t consume meat but you consume other animal products, then options such as dairy and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12. Fortified cereals can also be a great source of vitamin B12. 
  • Use a reusable water bottle- Make a habit of carrying this with you so you can sip on water throughout the day
  • Add flavor- Try adding some fresh fruit or lemon/lime juice
  • Set phone reminders- Setting a reminder or two on your phone to tell you to drink water can go a long way
  • Eat foods with high water content- Fruits, vegetables, and smoothies are great ways to increase hydration without realizing it
  • Track your hydration- Tracking your water intake through an app on your phone can be a fun way to hold yourself accountable for your hydration
  • Drink water with your meals- Make sure to always have a glass of water with you as you eat. This is an easy way to guarantee you are drinking water at least 3 times a day. 
  • Mayo Clinic recommends for men to have a daily fluid intake of 15.5 cups (3.7 L) and for women to have 11.5 cups (2.7 L). Your need will increase your hydration if you live in a particularly warm area or if you exercise/sweat that day. 
  • Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that we do not use for energy because we are unable to digest it.  
  • Fiber moves through our GI tract as “roughage” and helps us feel full for longer, helps maintain a healthy GI tract, helps prevent constipation, and can even help regulate blood sugar levels. 
  • High fiber intakes are associated with a decreased risk for high blood pressure and a decreased risk for high cholesterol.  
  • Naturally high fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts/seeds 
  • It is recommended that adult men consume 38 grams of fiber/day and adult women consume 25 grams of fiber/day. 
  • When increasing fiber in your diet make sure to also increase your water intake. Fiber can absorb water and lead to constipation if you do not drink enough fluids.  
  • Sodium is an important electrolyte that is vital for our body to function properly.
  • Sodium plays an important role in the fluid balance in our bodies and even plays a role in processes like nerve transmission and impulse conduction.
  • As with everything, sodium needs to be consumed in moderation because excessively high amounts can be harmful to our health.
  • Consuming too much sodium can lead to increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
  • It is recommended to consume 1500 mg of sodium/day. Many Americans consume far more than this, exceeding 3000-4000 mg/day. 
  • Sodium is found in many foods, largely in processed foods. High sodium foods include processed meats (bacon, cold cuts, etc.), frozen dinners, canned foods/soups, salad dressings, processed cheeses, chips/crackers, pasta sauce, and more. Checking the nutrition label is a great way to see how much sodium is in your food. 
  • Ways to decrease sodium intake include emphasizing fresh foods, choosing the “low sodium” variations of foods, rinsing your canned foods in water to wash some of the sodium away, and checking food labels to be aware of your sodium consumption. 
  • Sneak vegetables into sauces- Vegetables can easily be added into pasta sauces or sloppy joe sauces, and you likely won’t even notice. Easy vegetables to sneak into these dishes include shredded carrots, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, and zucchini. 
  • Mix veggies into your eggs- Egg scrambles or omelets are great ways to include vegetables as a part of your main dish. Great vegetables to eat with eggs include potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and more. 
  • Add vegetables to your soups and chilis- Soups and chilis are a great way to increase your vegetables without you noticing. Feel free to get creative with any vegetables you may have laying around. 
  • Add fruit toppings- Fruit can be a great topping to lots of different meals and snacks. Examples include yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and French toast! 
  • Smoothies- Smoothies are a great way to get in both fruits and vegetables. Don’t be afraid to add a vegetable to your favorite smoothie flavor. For example, adding spinach to your smoothie won’t add any different flavor, it will simply turn it green J 
  • Try grilling- Grilling your vegetables is a great way to mix up flavor and texture. Examples of good vegetables to grill include corn on the cob, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, cabbage, squash, and many more!  
  • Mix them into your baked goods- There are a surprisingly large number of fruits and vegetables than can be mixed into your baked goods and actually make them taste better. Try making banana bread, zucchini bread, or apple/carrot muffins.