NUTRITION is an important factor in education and in the growth of a nation. That is why this month of July, the National Nutrition Council spearheads the nationwide celebration of the 2010 Nutrition Month with the hope of sending out messages on the significance of good nutrition to all Filipinos.

Indeed nutrition is an important factor in our growth and productivity as individuals, and collectively as a nation. In education, a child's nutrition impacts greatly on his educational performance. A healthy brain is one of the first essentials for learning. Like any kind of complex machinery, the brain needs energy to work. And the brain gets or may not get energy at all from the food we eat.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Many of us associate healthy food with being expensive. Students for instance faced with time and budget constraints find it a challenge to eat healthy, but that does not have to be the case. Here's a compilation of some food shopping tips for a college student on a shoestring budget.

* Buy food at the wet market. If you are trying to impress someone, you might consider a trip to the wet market as dyahe or not cool. But whether you like it or not, you are a student and relying on limited allowance. Help your parents out by being practical. Now, that sounds cool. Compared to the supermarket, foods at the wet market are usually fresher and cheaper. What's more, you get the chance to bargain. Going near closing time may be a little inconvenient because of the volume of shoppers but it is another way of getting really good deals on produce from weary vendors looking forward to call it a day.

* If you need to go to the supermarket, shop wisely. Supermarkets are designed to lure you to spend more than you planned so arm yourself with a shopping list and stick to it. Plan out how much you're going to spend on food each week and stay within that budget. And do not go shopping on an empty stomach. Hungry shoppers buy more than they need.

* Cut back on junk food. While indulging on junk food is sometimes a way of relieving stress, you have to remember that these are often expensive and unhealthy. So in effect, you are spending a big chunk of your budget on food that isn't helpful and is in fact detrimental to your health. There's no room for this in your budget.

* Get back to basics. The closer food is to its natural form, the better. Besides, processed food is expensive because you're paying for the processing. It's much cheaper and often more nutritious to buy fresh whenever possible.

* Stay in campus. Study and socialize in campus. The more time you spend outside, the more is your chances of breaking your budget because you are exposed to fastfoods that are expensive for your budget and not really good for your health.

* Buy and cook your own food. Eating out or taking food out is expensive. Besides, if you prepare your own food, you might have some extra to share with your roommate or friends in your dorm or apartment. You saved money and got to bond with your friends.

Your health is your biggest investment while in college and away from home. There's nothing worse than getting sick while you are alone. So make good nutrition your priority concern and eat right. "When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no "I'll start tomorrow." Tomorrow is disease." That's from V.L. Allineare.