Eastern Michigan student creates healthy, cost effective menus

by Emily Vontom, Published June 19, 2012

College students are known for eating Ramen noodles, pizza and other junk food that their small budgets can handle, which can create a problem for not only their health, but their wallets as well.

Eastern Michigan University senior and dietetics major Callie Gavorek has come up with a solution: weekly meal plans that allow students to eat healthy food on a college student's budget.

"There is a common misconception in our society that it is impossible to eat well on a tight budget," says Gavorek. "Students can learn from my project that it is possible to eat healthy on a tight budget."

Gavorek's project started as a class assignment in Professor Anahita Mistry's principles of human nutrition (DTC 202) class. Students create a dietary plan for a week based on the average $5 daily allowance the Michigan food assistance program offers. Her project quickly evolved into something bigger.

"I expanded on the project by incorporating organic foods into the dietary plans and creating dietary plans that better fit the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) dietary reference intakes (DRI)," Gavorek says. "The project was made for the general public, but can easily be used by college students."

Gavorek, who is a vegan and follows a strict budget herself, used her own experiences shopping for healthy food to help her complete her research.

"As a college student on a tight budget, I have to be creative with grocery shopping in order to maintain a healthy diet," she says. "I looked over receipts and used my experience with grocery shopping to create the basis of the dietary plans."

An example of one day's diet would consist of a strawberry banana oatmeal smoothie for breakfast, a tuna fish sandwich for lunch and grilled salmon with spinach, tomato, olives and a tortilla for dinner for a total of $5. This total includes all spices, other ingredients, beverages and snacks throughout the day as well.

Gavorek presented her research at Eastern Michigan's 2012 Undergraduate Symposium where the exceptional academic work of undergraduate students was celebrated. Gavorek was able to share her research with other students, faculty, staff and the public.

"While I taught people about eating healthy on a budget, many of the people that I met taught me a lot about nutrition and eating on a budget," says Gavorek. "It was a very educational and valuable networking experience."

Emily Vontom

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