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Eating Well Under Budget and Time Constraints

By: Caitlin McFarland
Wellness and Student Life Webinar Coordinator

Beginning in medical school, physicians and future physicians live under significant time constraints. Each year into medical training comes with its own transitions and challenges that inevitably shake up personal habits. Prior to medical school, I had a pretty regular routine of preparing healthy meals, baking granola, and bicycling across the countryside of Vermont. When medical school started however, I found myself dislodged from my kitchen and spending innumerable hours in the library. The temptation to look to fast food and vending machines in lieu of making meals is real. Below are some suggestions for busy students who are interested in eating whole and healthy foods while studying hard.
  • Invest in a Crockpot - A decent one will cost you $50-100 and will save you innumerable hours in saved time. Learn some basic recipes that appeal to you: bean soups, chili (vegetarian and beef based), and meats all cook well and without your attention in one of these.
  • Consider buying in bulk - Nuts, dried fruit, hummus, and veggies are all cheaper when bought in larger packages. Some of my health conscious classmates go halves on large bags of vegetables to eat produce without it going bad in the fridge.
  • Look for Community Shared Agriculture programs in your community - CSAs are programs run by farms that deliver preselected boxes of their produce to you on a daily or weekly basis. Making salads and roasting the delivered vegetables are fast ways to work vegetables into your diet and you avoid a grocery trip.
  • Keep meal basics in the fridge and make use of your freezer - Cooked brown rice will last 2-3 days in the fridge for example, so cooking some Sunday night to have on hand for a few days is an easy fix. Large batches of soup made on the weekend can last weeks in separate ziplock containers in the freezer.
  • Try a Snack Box - There are a number of companies that deliver healthy snacks to your doorstep on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis. The price range varies, but this is a convenient way to try fun snack foods. Examples:,,, and

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