How to Save Money on Food in College
The broke college kid is a stereotype that we all know. And, in general it's true. College students live on a strict budget and depend either on parents or student loan money to survive. One way that college students can cut costs is in the food budget. It's possible to eat well and for cheap. College students are at an advantage because they only need to feed themselves and don't have a whole family of mouths to feed.
Eating at Home
One of the easiest and fasted ways to save food money right away is to stop eating out. Even cheap food, like fast food, is in the long run more expensive than meals cooked at home. Not to mention the health problems that can come with eating out all the time.
Plan ahead to eat at home, or home cooked meals more. For example, if you're on campus all day on certain days of the week, pack a lunch of a few snacks to tide you over.
If you're in the dorms or have a meal plan, use it! Unused meal plan points are just unused money and a waste. As awful as the dorm food might be, make a point to eat it. To switch things up, go to different cafeterias in your school. Also make a point to check out all the places you can use your meal plan and to visit the different places. Some schools allow for you to "shop" at tiny grocery stores with items you can take back to your dorm room. Some schools even let you spend money at fast food locations in the student union or library. Check out all your options and make sure you're using your meal plan in the smartest way.
Learn to Be Frugal
So maybe you watched your parents cutting coupons but never paid attention, time to give them a call. Learn to cut coupons and shop the deals. If your parents weren't bargain shoppers, ask a friend that's a good bargain shopper to show you the way.
Some bargain shopping tips:
- Buying in bulk usually saves money, but not always. Take a calculator or use your cell phone to figure out the price for ounce or per item when making purchases. Buy whatever makes sense in the long run.
- Vegetables that are in season will always be cheaper so plan meals around in season vegetables.
- Get the biggest bang for your buck by matching coupons with current sales. Before going to the grocery store, match up your coupons with the store ads.
- Never go to the store hungry, you're much more likely to spend more!
Cheap Meal Ideas
So now that you know the basics of bargain shopping and are going to only eat at home, you might be wondering what to buy. It is possible to eat cheap and healthy, but more difficult.
Meat items are some of the most expensive so instead buy beans for protein. Add a side of beans to a few vegetable side dishes for a cheap meal.
Spaghetti is one of the cheapest meals out there. Add some lean ground turkey and a salad for a well-rounded meal.
Remember to shop in season and plan meals around what's local and fresh.