How College Students Can Save Money on Food

Sun, Feb 13, 2011


Before going to college, your parents paid for your food, so the cost of food wasn’t something you thought about too much. $10 a pound for crab legs? Who cares! Lets eat! Well, things have changed, especially for students living in an apartment. How can college students save money on food? No, don’t just dine and dash! Let’s take a look at some REAL tips:

* Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll be enticed to buy food you don’t need. Therefore, do your grocery shopping on a full stomach. Make a shopping list before you go shopping and stick to it. And don’t buy lobster every time you run out of it.
* Skip the late night fourth meal! You can do it! A study performed in 2005 indicated that eating between 8 pm and 4 am was a leading contributor to weight gain.
* Ramen Noodles, as most college students know, make a very inexpensive lunch.
* Avoid restaurants that have waitresses. Not because they’re snarky, but because they’ll want a tip.
* If you’re on a budget, tell your roommate that his friends don’t have access to your food. Count your grapes (just kidding)!
* Buy food in bulk, but not enough for a room full of Sumo wrestlers. It could go bad and you’ll end up throwing it out.
* Don’t make eating a hobby.
* Don’t eat out of an open box of cookies or crackers. You’ll end up eating way too much. Besides the expense, you could take in from 500 to 800 calories in one snack session. It’s best to take out a small portion and then put the container away.
* Collect coupons and check out the weekly sales at grocery stores. However, just because a store says an item is on sale doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal. Additionally, try to avoid upscale markets.
* Use less meat in your meals. For example, eat half of a chicken breast and add some extra vegetables or rice.
* Learn to recognize when you’re actually hungry or if instead you’re just tempted to eat due to boredom or stress. Take some time to think about it before grabbing any food.
* If you’re not living in a dorm, make and bring your own lunches to school. Perhaps a sandwich and some fruit. No, don’t bring an entire smorgasbord.
* Eliminate the morning mocha or cappuccino at the local coffee house. Make yourself some coffee to save money.
* Don’t purchase bottled water unless the tap water is unhealthy.
* Don’t throw away leftovers. Have them for lunch or dinner. Cooked food usually acquires more flavor by the next day.
* Don’t binge drink. It’s expensive and unhealthy. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it encourages the body to lose more water than it takes in. Alcohol attacks the body’s vitamins and minerals and drains you of potassium. It also induces cravings for carbohydrates, which leads to spending money on snacks. Save money AND your health by drinking less.

Healthy/Inexpensive Food Items

* Brown rice: Cost per serving: 10 cents. Use it in side dishes, casseroles, rice salads, and soups.
* Whole grain bread: Cost per serving (two slices): 30 cents.
* Frozen vegetables: Cost per serving: 25 cents.
* Oats: Cost per serving: 20 cents. Have some oatmeal for breakfast.
* Multigrain pasta: Cost per serving: 28 cents. Use it for sandwiches and bread stuffing.
* Potatoes: Cost per serving: 20 cents. These are extremely versatile, so you’re not likely to get sick of them. Put them in casseroles and stews.
* Whole wheat pita bread: Cost per serving: 25 cents. Make pizzas, sandwiches, and flatbread appetizers.
* Frozen Edamame (soybeans): Cost per serving: 58 cents. Eat them as a snack or use them in side dishes.
* Can of refried beans (no-fat version): cost per serving: 34 cents. Use these as a side dish or put them in burritos.

You can have a great time at college (and learn a few things) without spending a ton of money on food.

Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of different college-related topics for Check out BrainTrack’s Facebook page for some more info.

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One Response to “How College Students Can Save Money on Food”

  1. Chris Says:

    No mention of lentils?! They’re amazing: cheap, available in many varieties, useful as a substitute for meat in dishes.

    Another useful cooking tip, relating to utensils rather than ingredients, is to buy them in bulk! For example you can buy student kitchen packs here, and similar products / packages are available elsewhere too 🙂


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