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Meal Tips For College Students

Updated on September 6, 2017

If you're in college, chances are you're eating on a tight budget. Maybe you don't even have an oven in your dorm, or you're sharing meals with other students in the apartment. College students can deal with a lot of unusual meal situations. Here are some tips that might help.

  • Avoid buying fresh fruit unless you can get a deal. It's expensive and perishable. If you can find a major deal at a farmer's market or sale at your local grocer, it might be worth it. Don't buy more fruit than you can commit to eating.

    If you don't have a freezer to store frozen fruit, try canned fruit. Canned mandarin oranges and canned pears can make fantastic and convenient shelf-stable sides.

    Tip to keep it healthy: Buy fruit canned in water instead of syrup.

  • Consider buying a microwave, mini-fridge or portable mini stove/burner. These double or triple your cooking options in a dorm and can prevent you from having to buy expensive and unhealthy meal plans.

  • Avoid cuts of meat or fish. They're difficult to cook with limited space/time and are often the most expensive part of any meal.

    Try going vegetarian for a while and get protein in the following ways:

    Eggs (no refrigeration necessary if eaten promptly):
    Boiled eggs
    Egg sandwiches

    Beans (no refrigeration necessary and conveniently canned):
    Burritos (Keep it simple- tortillas, canned refried beans, and sliced shallots or cheese)

    Nuts (no refrigeration necessary)
    Don't forget about peanut butter!

    Potatoes (no refrigeration necessary and easy to find a microwave and cook)
    Try cutting them into slices or wedges before you cook them, using a skillet on a burner, and salting them for fries!

    Protein bars
    Expensive but shelf stable, and high in protein.

  • Supplements at the store
    Shakes or powders- can be expensive, but worth it if you don't have many options for varied and healthy eating.
  • Avoid eating out.

    And if you do, buy off the dollar menu or share a single entree with someone else to split the cost.
  • Ask your roomies or friends to help. If everybody rotates and buys and cooks one dish a week, it'll be cheaper for everyone. Just make sure you have honest friends/roomies who will equally contribute.
  • Give up soda and junk food. Embrace water and healthy food. It costs less.
  • Coupons are your friend. Take the time to look into using coupons. Small savings on things you need can really add up.

  • Consider using meal plans, if your school offers them. Do the math to see if it's a good deal in the long run, look at the menu and ask yourself: Will you really use it?

  • Find discount stores to shop at in your area. Typically they have you bag your own groceries and cut back on costs in every way, but the prices are great. Save-a-lot is one big name.

  • Prepare for food cravings. Buy a cheap bag of $1 candy or fudge bars and hide it away for a time you're thinking about going to the convenience store.

  • Buy no-name brand. Generic is almost the same thing and it costs a whole lot less!

  • Eat less to save money. Just make sure you're getting enough nutrients. And maybe invest in some multivitamins.

  • Ask your parents to feed you. Beg every once in a while for an awesome meal out. Maybe they'll cave.

  • Deals at pizza places. A $10 large pizza split between three people (or split into 3 days) = a $3 meal. Plus it's really good. Not so good for you. But good. Can't forget good.

  • Look for free food on campus. That's a no-brainer. If they're offering it, take it!

    The bottom line is: there are a lot of ways to save money. You just have to be creative and resilient. Which you should be since you're already in college, right? Right. Good luck, my fellow students!


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