Food trends are interesting but definitely hard to follow. No one is completely sure if kale is still popular or not or if Instagramming brunch is embarrassing. Though college students have a reputation of being in touch with the latest trends, there are some things that stand in the way of a typical college student, such as not owning a kitchen, having limited spending money and not being able to cook. Below are some food trends, ranked by how easily a college student can follow it.
Brunch, a hybrid of breakfast and lunch, is the perfect meal for college students. Even though most people eat brunch on Sundays between 10 a.m. and noon, college students wake up at around those times every day so following the trend is only natural. Plus, by combining the two meals, college students save meal swipes and are prepared to eat more at their buffet-style dining halls.
Practicality rating: 10.0/10.0
2. Avocado toast
For a college student that didn’t buy the meal plan, avocado toast (which is literally avocado on toast) is a lifesaver. The lightly salted avocado provides a rich, buttery spread on the crispy toast (most likely made in a dorm room toaster), while being a healthy ambiguous breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner option. In addition, the toast is versatile and there are many customizable toppings and seasonings for it, such as scrambled eggs, cilantro and lemon juice, hot sauce (or sriracha) and various lunch meats left in the fridge. The only downside is that sometimes avocado toast leaves unused avocado halves that brown quickly which is terrible unless you own an avocado saver.
Practicality rating: 9.5/10.0
3. Frozen Food
Frozen food may seem like a thing of the past with Hungry Man and Kids Cuisine TV dinners, but many new brands, like Annie’s and Amy’s Kitchen, are reinventing the frozen food aisle with healthier organic versions. Though buying these in bulk and popping them in the microwave might seem like an easy solution to meal preparation, they can get a little costly and, if you live in a dorm, these tiny packages of deliciousness might be stolen by your floormates if you keep it in your shared kitchen fridge.
Practicality rating: 8.5/10.0
There are many different types of bowls that are trending now. Power bowls, which are just fancy salads in bowls, is the new salad for “hot, skinny people,” according to The New York Post. Smoothie bowls, often decorated with fruit and granola, are another type of bowl that’s gotten a lot of hype in the past few months. Coincidentally, college students have always been eating out of bowls, whether it’s cereal or ramen (it’s technically a cup, but it’s close enough to a bowl). Though practical and versatile, a downside is that bowls require some colorful produce and assembly, otherwise it’s not nice enough to be Instagrammed.
Practicality rating: 8.0/10.0
5. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a thicker version of regular yogurt with more protein, and it comes in fewer flavors (but unlike yogurt, it comes in a popular tart non-fat, sugar-free flavor that tastes almost like sour cream). It’s great in smoothies or served with fruit and granola for a quick and healthy breakfast. However, it can often be replaced by its cheaper cousin, regular yogurt.
Practicality rating: 7.8/10.0
Everyone has been obsessed with juice lately, especially cold pressed juices. They’re served in on-campus restaurants and grocery stores. While they’re easy to snack on and quick to buy, they’re neither affordable nor good meal replacements despite each bottle containing 13 raspberries, 11 strawberries, 3 cranberries, 2 apples, a quarter of a pomegranate, a third of an orange, a banana and 7 red grapes. Also, have you tried green juice? Blegh.
Practicality rating: 6.0/10.0
7. “The New Quinoa”
Every year, hundreds of publications around the world attempt to introduce to the world, the newest trend that will replace quinoa. Though quinoa is slowly dying out, there still hasn’t been a supergrain that has taken over and, instead, many new grains like farro and millet are gaining popularity. Through most would be impressed by the large variety of grains offered, many college students are getting frustrated by their long cooking times and turning to ramen noodles instead.
Practicality rating: 5.8/10.0
8. Paleo Diet
Many celebrities are endorsing the paleo diet, including Jeb! (who still hasn’t endorsed Donald Trump yet). The paleo diet consists of mainly meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and it excludes dairy, grains and processed foods. Through dining halls are stocked with meat, vegetables and fruits, the options feel limited after a while. Also, most of these items require meal prep and cooking, which college students don’t have time or kitchen space for.
Practicality rating: 5.0/10.0
9. Meal prep
Meal prep is great for when you’re trying to eat healthy and looking for something simple and easy to make. People who meal prep normally make large batches of meals at the beginning of a given week and portion the batches out to eat throughout the week. But, when it comes to living in dorm rooms with mini-fridges, college students have to forgo some food storage space, making meal prep harder. Unless their meal prep consists of 30 granola bars for the week, they’ll only be able to store a limited number of meals.
Practicality rating: 4.0/10.0
10. Rainbow Food (the rainbow bagel, rainbow grilled cheese)
If college students from the 90’s love anything, it’s retreating back to their childhood fantasies and running away from their midterms and inedible dining halls. The easiest way a college student to do this is by snacking on their favorite artificial colors from their childhood. Enter, rainbow foods like the rainbow bagel, the rainbow grilled cheese and rainbow Doritos. Though, these foods may seem like all fun and games, they actually taste the same as their non-dyed counterparts and cost more. They’re also often inaccessible to college students who don’t live in New York and, for the brave ones who attempt to make it in their dorms, result in people accidentally staining every surface of their rooms.
Practicality rating: 3.7/10.0
11. Local Foods
It’s illegal to start a college without having an overpriced grocery store at least 10 miles away (not really, but the rule has basically never been broken). These stores often feature local produce that is sometimes pricier than their counterparts harvested in other countries or regions of the US, but their main benefit is making college students feel better about their environmental impact: first not using AC in dorms (because AC is nonexistent in some dormitories) and, now, buying produce from farmers near them.
Practicality rating: 3.0/10.0
12. Pop-up restaurants
It’s true: college students love Twitter, but pop up restaurants are still hard to keep track of despite social media. Sure, they’re trendy and hip, but they’re also hard to find and get to (especially for a college student without a car). Also, we’re still getting over our trust issues after Kanye’s pop-up concert was canceled after Governer’s Ball.
Practicality rating: 2.5/10.0