Healthy Meal Prep and Snack Ideas on a College Budget

by Mehan Gibboney

As a soon-to-be college student, you might have a lot of questions surrounding academics, living on campus and what the meal and food options are on, or around campus. Consider this a peek into the college dining lifestyle, on a college student sized budget.

Like many other prospective college students, I feared the “freshman fifteen” that we all hear about. But I’m here to tell you with some limited cooking skills, simple supplies and a few affordable grocery trips, it easy to avoid. For the prices and foods I talk about, I’m using the Wooster Aldi grocery store as my reference. This is where I personally shop due to the incredible low prices, and the convenient location. Aldi also carries pots, pans, and cooking utensils, as well as some other home products.

My favorite recipe to make in the full-sized kitchen in my campus apartment is a chicken vegetable stir fry. This recipe can be altered in many ways depending on your preferences.

Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry

Spaghetti/ pasta noodles                                                   $0.89

Sliced Mushrooms                                                            $2.35

Cubed Bell pepper of any kind                                         $0.67

Chopped Broccoli (I use frozen)                                       $0.89

2 Chicken breasts                                                                $6.25

A sauce of your choice (I use a bottled sauce)                  $2.26

TOTAL MEAL COST:                                                     $13.31

SERVES 1 person for 3-4 meals           cost per serving   $4.00-$3.00

Step 1: Prepare the vegetables and chicken by cubing them (if you buy prechopped of each it makes the process faster).

Step 2: Start boiling water and a dash of salt in a pan for your noodles, once it begins to boil place a small handful of spaghetti in then water and boil for the time listed on the box.

Step 3: Place the cubed chicken in a frying pan and fry until fully cooked.

Step 4: Once the chicken is done place the vegetables in the same pan at a lower temperature. Once they become soft pour in the sauce of your choice.

Step 5: Pour the water out of your spaghetti, combine all elements (vegetables, noodles, and the chicken). You may want to add a bit more sauce, but, otherwise, your meal is complete!

Recipes like this one are super tasty and quick to make. At the bottom of the page are some additional links to great recipes. Some of my other favorite ideas for meals are crock pot ham and potatoes, grilled chicken, as well as any type of pasta vegetable combination. These meals are also all crockpot and grill friendly, both of which students can have on campus! I encourage you to get online, on Pinterest or even ask family members who like to cook what some of their favorite easy meals are. It makes for a good time with roommates and a break from studying. Almost any meal imaginable can be adapted to your personal preferences and budget.

What Do I Need?

When it comes to cooking there are some supplies required but, in college you don’t need the most expensive brand of dishes and pans that money can buy. What I and many other students recommend is visiting stores like TJMAXX, Goodwill or any yard sale you come across. These provide you with some of the cheaper and still good quality cookware. The main tools you’ll need in the kitchen if you’re planning to cook are the following: a sauce pan of any size, a frying pan, cookie sheet for the oven, some utensils (plastic or metal — both are great), a small cutlery set (set of 3 is sufficient), a strainer, cutting board, and measuring cups/spoons. Keep in mind these things aren’t all necessary, just helpful if you plan to cook.

What About Quick Snacks?

For snack ideas, many college students will tell you a box of your favorite cereal is a vital key in getting through the semester. It’s an easy, lazy meal with some fruit or a nice, quick late-night snack or breakfast between classes. Gummy snacks, pretzels of any variety, granola bars, fruit and even cheese sticks and yogurt are all very delicious and cheap snack ideas to keep you going through the day. Many professors will allow you to eat during lectures and these snacks are great for on the go!

Meal Ideas

Additional Snack Ideas


David Richards ’81 receives CFAES Distinguished Alumnus Award

Dave Richards ’81 (Associate of Science in Nursery Management) was recently honored as a recipient of a CFAES Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Dave is a strong supporter of Ohio State ATI and has been an instructor in horticulture at Auburn Career Center in Painesville, Ohio, for over 20 years. Experiential learning is a focus of his teaching strategy, and he incorporates many different forms of hands-on education into his student lessons.

To help prepare students for what will be expected of them in the industry, Dave has worked to change Ohio FFA’s testing to be similar to the professional certifications in Ohio’s nursery and landscape industry. He continues to work with Ohio FFA and National FFA to offer apprenticeship programs in which students can participate.

One of the highlights of his experiential teaching strategies is a display at Cleveland’s Great Big Home + Garden Show where, with Dave’s leadership, students create a competition-level garden that is 1,600 square feet.

In his words, Dave’s greatest contribution to the landscape industry is “a passion for excellence in all endeavors both personally and for my students. I am particularly proud of the partnerships developed with business and industry which led to aligning classroom/ lab curriculum with industry certification credentials.” It is through his students that Dave’s legacy will live on.

David Payne recognized as 2020 Turfgrass Science Student of the Year

David Payne was one of two students to receive the 2020 Turfgrass Science Student of the Year Award (Brandon Stith from the Columbus Campus was also recognized). He accepted the award at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation’s Spring Into 2020 event.

According to a letter of endorsement written on David’s behalf, although his academic accomplishments are noteworthy, his greatest achievements have been outside the classroom. He went out of his way to develop rapport with his classmates, and his outgoing personality encouraged them to become more engaged in classes and labs. Elected President of the ATI Turf Club by his peers, David immediately implemented a mentoring program, wherein second-year turfgrass students were assigned two or three freshmen to mentor during their first semester. David and three of his classmates completely overhauled ATI’s intramural softball field over autumn break because they did not feel the field condition reflected well on the turf program. David was also determined to have a competitive team at the 2020 Sports Turf Managers Collegiate Skills Competition and held his teammates accountable for rigorous study in the weeks leading up to the event. Their hard work was rewarded with a third-place finish.

Congratulations, David!

Need to study? Pick your spot!

by Matt Roth

One thing you might ask yourself as a new student on campus is, “Where can I find a place to study?” Here at Ohio State ATI, there are many readily available places to sit down and look over your material. We also have many resources available for any kind of help you might need to succeed in your classes.

ATI Library

First, let’s talk about the library. There are many great things in the library to help you study effectively. There is a quiet study area, has a distraction-free zone (and napping station!) A computer lab with desktop computers and many study tables are for your use whether you’re studying solo or with your friends and classmates. In addition to the tables, there are two group study sets which allows you to plug in your iPad or computer and project the information onto a TV and allow your whole group to work together and be on the same page.

Directly outside of the library is a small area that has tables and couches that some students use for a study space. This is a nice place to study, as there are typically not many students so it’s usually quiet with few distractions.

Learning Lab

Another great study space is the learning lab. This is a place where students can go for any tutoring they might need or just a place to study. There are computers in the learning lab and lots of comfortable furniture that makes for good studying. You can’t concentrate if you’re not comfortable! There is also a learning lab in the housing office which is usually open later in the evenings. This is a place students can come if they cannot focus in their apartments and want a little more solitude.

Student Success Services is a great spot – and not just for studying. Here, you will find anything that you need to succeed throughout school. There are professional tutors, counseling services, computers, soundproof rooms, and more. Students can go there for any help they might need and to study with no distractions.

Skou Lounge

The most popular lounge at ATI is Skou Lounge. Here you will find lots of comfortable furniture and many places to study. It’s a good place to study for those commuting or living off campus.

When the weather is right, going outside to study is always a nice thing to do. Behind the greenhouses, there is a shade garden with benches and picnic tables. Next door to ATI is Secrest Arboretum, which has various places to study, and if you need a break, you can take a walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

If you are someone who just likes studying by themselves and can tune out distractions, studying in your apartment is also an option. You might feel most comfortable there and, with the great Wi-Fi, you can make use of all kinds of online study resources.

Discovering what type of study works best for you will help you do your best. Whatever your style is, ATI has a study location that matches.

14 Reasons We Love Ohio State ATI

Ohio State ATI students gave their reasons on why they love ATI; here are their responses:

14. Food in Wooster

The Guerne Drive-In is a hot place to cool down for students of ATI. Best milkshakes in Wayne County!




13. Therapy Dogs (Including Finn)

Therapy dogs are a huge hit here at ATI. Students love to interact with the animals on campus, especially Finn who can be seen walking around the campus daily.






12. Home Away from Home

Ohio State ATI is not just any college — it is a home away from home. This is a place where students get to create new friendships. With ATI being a small campus, everybody knows everybody, which adds to the comfort factor of being away from home.


11. Ladies in the Bookstore

Margie and Becky play one of the most important roles on this campus. Although they are here to sell students their books and supplies, they are also there for a great conversation and laugh. These ladies work hard to ensure that the students have what they need to succeed in the classroom.


10. Fun and Engaging Faculty

The faculty members at ATI are very outgoing. They really like to interact and mingle with the students. The faculty does a great job of ensuring that the students are succeeding and will help them find any help when it’s needed.




9. Hands-on Learning

One of the biggest perks of coming to Ohio State ATI is hands-on learning. Students learn at the farms, in the greenhouses and equipment labs, on turf plots, and lots of other locations around campus. This prepares students for real-life situations.


8. Made-to-Order Food from Café Carmen

Café Carmen is a very hot spot on campus. No cafeteria line here. Your food is made to order, so you have lots of choices! With a meal plan, ordering your chicken fingers and fries is a whole lot easier.



7. Free Laundry and Parking

Who doesn’t love free laundry? Here at ATI, we have it. A large laundry room offers multiple washers and dryers. Along with free laundry, we offer free parking. Save hundreds of dollars by not buying a parking pass. This makes taking care of everyday needs is just that much easier.



6. Small Class Sizes

The small class sizes at ATI are something that makes learning a lot easier. With small class sizes, you can focus more, and the professors notice more of the things you do (or don’t do!).



5. Because I am a Name and not a Number

This line means a lot: “Because I am a name and not a number.” Professors do not just consider you another number in their class. They take the time to learn your name and reach out to you to offer guidance or help.


4. Competitive Intramurals at the SAC

Intramurals are big here at ATI. From football to volleyball, we offer nearly everything. This gives students who have that competitive edge a chance to compete against others who have that same drive.


3. Supportive Staff and Campus Community


Ohio State ATI has such a supportive campus community. Everyone wants to see the students succeed. They are more than willing to go the extra mile for students who need help with a specific question. If someone doesn’t know the answer, they will surely find someone who does.


2. Great Foundation for a Career

Ohio State ATI is a great foundation for a career. You can enter the workforce right after graduation, or you can transition to Columbus to complete a bachelor’s degree.



1. Being Part of the Cornerstone College of The Ohio State University: 150 years of Access, Affordability, and Excellence.

Ohio State University was founded 150 years ago as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. That’s why the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science claims its spot as the Cornerstone College. From our humble beginnings providing practical education for common folk, we’ve grown to be one of the top-ranked public universities in the U.S. and remain committed to affordability and access.

Night to Shine

By Hunter Sandwisch

I’m a member of the 2019 Ohio State ATI Homecoming Court. The Homecoming Court members are required to participate in one community service project. This year, we took part in Night to Shine. Night to Shine is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The foundation’s web site says “Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. This February 7, 2020, Night to Shine celebrated its sixth anniversary! On one night, 721 churches from around the world will come together to host Night to Shine for approximately 115,000 honored guests through the support of 215,000 volunteers!”

The Grace Church in Wooster, Ohio was the home for the Wooster Night to Shine, where we had around 270 guests as well as more than 300 volunteers. Guests could get their photo taken, go for a ride in a limo, play a variety of games, and walk the red carpet. There was also a caricature artist and a room for karaoke. I volunteered in the game room where we had a variety of different games to play. Players earned tickets for each game they played and were able to use the tickets to “purchase” prizes. There was dinner provided and participants were able to go out and dance on the dance floor. At the end of the night, the guests were called onto the dance floor and crowned either King or Queen.

“Who are You Talking to?” Tuesday — ATI Librarians

L-R: Our librarians – Abby, Kathy, and Kris – are here to help!

Ohio State ATI’s library is all about finding ways to help students succeed academically. Our library team of Kathy Yoder, Kris Purdy, and Abagail Burkey have a combined 37 years at ATI and truly love helping our students.

Their biggest piece of advice for a prospective student is, “Don’t be shy about asking questions.  That is why we are here. We love helping students figure out what they really need.”

They point out that a benefit of Ohio State ATI’s smaller size is that students can meet with a librarian any day of the school week. Librarians can help with research and so much more. Students can use the Library Help Desk to ask questions, and the librarians are happy to point them in the correct direction.

The library also has many resources to help students succeed academically. First, they keep a copy of all the textbooks that a student may need for class, so a student can use the library edition while they are in the library. They offer all sorts of technology, from laptops and headphones to phone chargers and printers/copiers. Lastly, they have various types of study spaces for every learning style, including group study and quiet individual spaces.

Since we are part of The Ohio State University, if our library does not have what a student needs, our librarians can obtain it from the Columbus campus or one of the other regional campuses. We are also connected to other university libraries in Ohio through OhioLink.

Kathy, Kris, and Abby look forward to welcoming new ATI students to the library. Ohio State ATI’s library is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening, except Fridays when they close at 5:00 p.m.


Regional Student Leadership Retreat

by Olivia Rinesmith

This Saturday, four other Ohio State ATI students and I attended the Regional Student Leadership Retreat, held on the Columbus campus in the Ohio Union and presented by the Office of Student Life.

During our time at the retreat, we participated in several activities to build our leadership, communication and professional skills. We started off by doing icebreakers to get everyone in the room comfortable with each other. One of the activities we did was taking a survey on our love language. Love languages are how we can communicate with others and show our love in a way that others can understand. There are five different languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. If you know a person’s love language, it makes it easier to communicate with them on an emotional level.

Next, we held conversations about what makes a good communicator, how to network, and how to present yourself in the best way possible. Then we had an hour to go and explore the Columbus campus and enjoy lunch.

Our last activity dealt with conflict resolution. We got into groups and discussed things that we are bothering us within our lives and received feedback on how to address these issues.

The retreat gave me many knew skills as well as enhancing the ones I already had. It opened my eyes to take others’ wellbeing into consideration and to make sure everyone feels included. I truly believe that I have started new friendships and have made connections with students from the regional campuses. Looking at this picture truly shows that it doesn’t matter who you are or what campus you go to. We all are Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Differences Between High School and College: What to Expect

by Allison Davis

The transition from high school to college can sometimes be stressful. There are many unanswered questions rolling through your head about what the classes will be like, how you are going to get to know new people, how you will manage your time, what it will be like living away from home, etc. The change from high school to college is a big step, but there are so many great things that will come from it. The first step in preparing for college is to understand some of the important differences between high school and college. Being prepared for these differences will surely help you have a smoother transition!

Class Time

The library is a great place to study — but it’s up to you to make it a priority.

In high school you spend about 7 hours a day going from one class to the next, following the same class schedule every day. You wake up early in the morning and get home midafternoon. On the other hand, in college you will spend roughly 12-16 hours in class a week with breaks in between some classes. You will also not have the same exact classes every day of the week. There are classes offered in the mornings and evenings, so you can take that into consideration when planning your schedule; however, you cannot choose what time the class is offered. I chose to have breaks in between all of my classes because that way I can do some homework and grab a bite to eat before my next class.

Class Size

The size of high school you went to will play a role in how you feel about class sizes in college. Most of my classes at ATI have about 20 students in them. My largest class is roughly 80 students. I enjoy having smaller classes because I feel that I develop relationships with a lot of my classmates. My professors engage with students in the classroom and they enjoy getting to know their students personally. The professors are very dedicated to helping students succeed; however, if students still struggle in certain classes, there is always help. The tutors at ATI are a huge help to students who need guidance in specific courses. It is very assuring knowing that if I ever need assistance I can use my resources to get the help I need.

Class Challenge

A lot of my high school teachers used to tell us that college was going to be so different than high school in terms of time management, the level of difficulty of the classes, etc. These comments made me a little nervous about college because I was worried I would not do well. As I am almost finished with my first year of college, I can confidently say that what my teachers said was true, but it all depends on how you handle challenges. The day-to-day schedule is very different than high school and the classes are obviously more difficult, but if you stay on task and put the work in, you will be perfectly fine.


“Who are You Talking to?” Tuesday—Denise Rotavera-Krain, College Success Counselor

At Ohio State ATI, there are multiple people and services with the goal of helping students achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. One such person is Denise Rotavera-Krain, who is our College Success Counselor.

Having graduated from Kent State University in 2019 with a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Personnel, Denise’s job is to help students with multiple aspects of college life. This includes anything from helping with study skills and career exploration to resume writing and interview preparation. She meets with students one-on-one and also hosts group resume, cover letter, and interviewing workshops. One tip she would give a prospective student for success in college is to “use a weekly planner and update it frequently.”

Her favorite part of Ohio State ATI is our students. While she has worked at Ohio State ATI for only 8 months, she has worked in higher education for many years. “I have always loved working with college students,” she says. “Their energy is infectious, and it is so rewarding to watch them transition from high school graduates to college students to young adulthood.” She believes that a college education opens the doors for students to grow both professionally and personally.

Denise is only one of Ohio State ATI’s resources for student success; many more can be found here. Resources range from disability services to tutoring, counseling, and many other services. In fact, when asked what the value of coming to college at Ohio State ATI is, Denise responded, “At Ohio State ATI, faculty and staff are eager to work with students and help them thrive.”


Denise Rotavera-Krain
College Success Counselor