A College Student’s Guide to Eating Economically

Food is expensive, and when you’re living on campus, the costs can add up at an alarming rate. Campuses, much like amusement parks, are laid out so that you’ll spend money  wherever you go. Restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes are littered everywhere, making it incredibly convenient for you to separate yourself from whatever little money you have just to get a quick bite to eat before running off to your next class. What you would need to do is create a budget and figure out how much you have to spend on food. Say you gave yourself a budget of $200 a month, which is a fairly generous amount for one person. What would you spend it on?

Meal Plans

Your first option would be to spend that money on meal plans at your campus. Since most semesters usually run for 3 1/2 months, you don’t want to go for a meal plan that exceeds $600. Not only because it would be over budget for most students, including yourself, but it’s likely you won’t be using all of it. Campus food gets old after a while and it’s likely that you’ll be taking a few trips to the grocery store anyway. Also, if you have a job, it’s likely you’ll only have time to go to the cafeteria maybe once a day, so much of it ends up going to waste by the end of the semester anyway.

Canned Food and the Sort.

This actually applies to a lot of things such as canned soup, canned beans, Chef Boyardee, ramen noodles, rice, PB&J, canned veggies, and hot dogs, as well as anything else that you can think of that’s cheap or could possibly be stretched out for a few days. These items are also quick as they only take a few minutes to prepare and eat. If you go shopping twice a month, try to fill your cart as full as you can get it while being able to walk out having to spend no more than $100. Rice is an excellent candidate for this. Buy a 20 lb. bag for only $15, add some butter and seasoning,  and you have more than enough carbohydrates to last you the entire semester.

Anything You Can Throw Into a Crock Pot

The crock pot is one of those amazing inventions where you would swear it was created just for the college life. Besides money, the biggest thing that college students lack is time. A 2 gallon pot shouldn’t cost you any more than $40, and once you get one of those, you can start perusing the interwebs for all kinds of crock pot recipes. After a couple hours of cooking, you now finally have enough food to last you at least a week. Plus, you’re no longer such eating junk food 100% of the time. Chili would possibly be the best option. Pour some over a bowl of rice,  add a handful of shredded cheddar to top it off, and you now have something that will last you a good couple weeks.

 You really don’t have to starve yourself to save money on food, nor do you have run yourself into debt just to feed yourself (please don’t use credit cards on food!). All it really takes is a little improvisation. Be creative. It may not be ideal as you’re not exactly eating your mother’s cooking (which may be a good thing for some), but you’ve got to do what it takes. You’re living on your own now, and like any responsible adult, you must learn to manage your money in any way you can.