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The Best Diet for College Students: Advice and Sample Menus

Updated on May 26, 2014
Yale Undergraduate Dining Hall
Yale Undergraduate Dining Hall | Source

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As a college student, do you have a balanced diet?

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College life is busy and also full of food options. Whether you want to prevent the freshman 15 or ensure you don't lose too much weight on your hectic schedule, you need a steady nutritional intake.

This hub will give you advice and sample menus for the best diet for college students. This plan is also easy and requires very little measuring of foods. These college meal plans are all between 1500 and 1800 calories a day.

If you will be doing or already engage in daily athletic practice for a team, these meal plans will not suit you. Your caloric needs will be higher. Many colleges provide athletic dining halls and a school dietician can counsel you on your specific nutritional needs.

There are two sample menus for dining hall students and two menus for commuter students. You can switch out any complex carb for another, any vegetable for another, etc. You only have to consider that your choice has a similar level of fat content.

Common college dining hall foods
Common college dining hall foods | Source

Notes On Dining Hall Eating

  • Most dining halls across the country have standard size plates and bowls that equate with proper suggested serving sizes, so you do not have to worry about having too much as long as you don't go back for seconds.
  • The only measurement you need to think about is dinner. Fill 1/4 of your plate with protein (like chicken or kidney beans), 1/4 with complex carbs (like potatoes or pasta), and 1/2 with vegetables (like salad or cooked carrots and green beans). The fruit you eat for dessert should fit into a cereal or soup bowl.

The best diet for college students includes foods like breakfast cereal.
The best diet for college students includes foods like breakfast cereal. | Source

Dining Hall Menu 2

This is another menu of dining hall options. It is a good idea to purchase a box of sandwich bags so you may take your snack along with you from the dining hall without creating a mess.


  • Bowl of corn flakes
  • Banana
  • Milk


  • Scrambled egg and cheese on a bagel (prepared in dining hall and thrown into bag to eat between meals)


  • Pasta with plain tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
  • Grilled chicken breast or serving of meatballs
  • Green salad with tomatoes with one small ladelfull of dressing
  • Fruit from salad bar

Dining Hall Menu 1

Since most students eat at dining halls twice a day rather than three times, we break this menu up into two meals with a snack grabbed to eat between meals.


  • Two pieces French toast w/syrup
  • Orange
  • Milk
  • V-8


  • Peanut butter and jelly on a bagel (prepared in dining hall and thrown into bag to eat between meals)


  • Roast chicken, beef, or pork (about 4 oz.)
  • Baked potato with a dab of sour cream
  • Green salad topped with one small ladelfull of dressing and small ladel of shredded cheese
  • Fruit from salad bar (often melons and cantaloupe are available)

The best diet for college students can include on-the-go sandwiches.
The best diet for college students can include on-the-go sandwiches. | Source

Notes on Eating as a Commuter Student

  • If you attend a community college or simply are not interested in dining hall food, this section will help ensure that you get your food requirements met in an easy-to-follow menu plan.
  • These menus feature options that are mostly quick to prepare. To make things easy for yourself, try cooking up a batch of hardboiled eggs, chicken breasts, and baked potatoes at one time. You can eat from the stash over three days, and freeze and reheat the food for when you want to prepare your meal conveniently and quickly.

Commuter Menu 2


  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Cup of milk


  • Subway 6-inch vegetable sub with cheese and mustard added
  • Orange


  • 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti with plain tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
  • Small chicken breast
  • Vegetable salad with two tablespoons of ranch dressing
  • Apple or banana

Commuter Menu 1


  • Toasted bagel with thin coating of butter
  • Milk
  • Orange


  • Can of drained water-packed tuna mixed with heaping teaspoon of mayo on wheat bread
  • Fruit yogurt (6-oz. container)
  • Celery sticks


  • Vegetable salad topped with two chopped hardboiled eggs and two tablespoons of Italian dressing.
  • Baked potato topped with two slices of American cheese, melted
  • Banana


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