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Eating cheap, healthy meals in college is a challenge, but not impossible thanks to nutrition course

Eating healthy on a budget is hard for anyone — especially college students. In NUTR 299, Clinical Assistant Professor Jenny Jackson helps Oregon State students learn the art of meal planning and preparation.

“A key focus of the course is applying principles of food and nutrition to promote healthy lifestyles,” Jenny says. “A properly fueled brain is ready to learn and can more readily handle the stress of college.”

NUTR 229 Healthy Meals: Plan. Cook. Eat. Is designed for students from any major who are interested in learning more about food and nutrition and how to plan, cook and eat healthful meals.

Student cooks in a red apron

In-class activities primarily involve cooking, eating and group discussions. During the weeks class isn’t in session,  students complete activities such as creating personal meal plans, taking a grocery store tour and reflecting on learning experiences.  

Jenny Randall, a pre-dietetics student, took the course last year and loved it so much that she is now an undergraduate learning assistant.

Two students cooking

“I wanted to become a learning assistant for NUTR 299 because, first off, the class is a lot of fun and I’m not sure there are many other classes for any major that allow you the opportunity to cook and eat,” she says. “I love interacting with my fellow peers on this level, and the class is small enough to really get to know the students on an individual basis.”

The Undergraduate Learning Assistant (LA) Program provides an experiential learning opportunity for juniors and seniors in the nutrition and dietetics program.

“The learning assistants meet with me on a weekly basis to plan and prepare for the NUTR 299 learning activities,” Jenny says. “During class, they help facilitate class activities and engage with students via the Canvas discussion board.

Jenny says she enjoys learning from students as they share candidly about their strengths and challenges related to healthful eating. “I also enjoy listening to students get excited about meal planning and watching them eat and enjoy the recipes they prepare during class.”

Benefits of NUTR 299  
Group of nutrition students smiling at the camera

Past students share how the class helps their daily life 

“My favorite part of this class was getting to try all the different foods we all made. I also really loved being able to cook, because I don’t have much of an opportunity to do it in the dorms.”

“My favorite part of NUTR 299 was definitely the in-class cooking. I enjoyed being able to get hands-on experience cooking nutritious and healthy meals and feel like I can apply skills that I learned in the kitchen to healthy meal planning at home.”

“I appreciated that we took the time to get to know our favorite grocery store better. Knowing where everything is and having a list of ingredients to buy is helpful and I will continue to use it. I also want to start meal planning next year when I am no longer living in the dorms and have more access to cooking my own food regularly.”

“A new habit I’ve developed is thoroughly planning out my meals before grocery shopping. I never used to do this but I find that it saves me a lot of time and money!”

Learn how to plan, cook and eat healthy meals 

NUTR 299 Healthy Meals: Plan. Cook. Eat. is currently offered winter and spring terms and meets every other week for two hours. Students from any major are welcome.  

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