We already know that college is expensive. From textbooks to tuition–it all adds up. So anyway to save a few bucks is beneficial to a college student. The easiest–and maybe even healthiest–way to do so is with food. Feeding yourself on a college budget can be tricky, but with these simple tips, you can save money on college food and be on your way to both a healthier body and wallet.
Try a Budgeting App
With all the college distractions, it’s easy to get carried away with spending. Try using a budgeting app like Mint to allocate your money and develop better spending habits. Hooking up your checking account to Mint will allow you to track your spending and pick up on trends that are either good or bad habits.
Also use printable coupons before you shop for thousands of great deals and discounts to help make your food shopping experience a little easier on your bank account.
Ditch the Meal Plan
Most colleges have meal plans that are usually directed to the freshman crowd. It might seem nice, at first, to have a designated plan on campus, but you might quickly find out that it’s just not for you. The plans can actually be quite costly, and you won’t get your money’s worth unless you eat on campus all the time. That can lead to the dreaded freshman 15, which you’ll be working off for the rest of your college years. So ditch the meal plan and look for better options in your college town.
Use Deals When Eating Out
Going out is expensive for everyone and it might not always be the healthiest alternative. And while fast food might be cheap, it can put a strain on your tummy and your wallet. But don’t think you have to forget about eating out entirely! Be smart about your meals by taking advantage of all the deals college towns have to offer. Some restaurants will have specials or happy hours for students that will allow you to get your grub on without breaking the bank. It may take some time to figure out which places have the best deals, but that’s part of the fun of being in college.
Cook With Friends
It doesn’t make much sense to eat out every night, so put on your chef’s hat and get a little creative. Cooking for one isn’t smart economically, and frankly, quite lonely. Invite your roommates or a few of your dorm friends to join in on your lunch or dinner plans. Split up the costs of the meal and turn a $15 dinner into an $8 feast with some good company. The best thing is to have fun with the recipes while you explore new foods at minimum cost.
Invest in a Crock-Pot
Say hello to the crock-pot–your new best friend for the next four (or more) years. After a long day of classes, intramural sports and volunteering, you might be too tired to think about cooking. This can lead to a habit of ordering pizza every night. Instead, cozy up to a crock-pot, which allows you to easily throw in all your ingredients at the beginning of the day, slow cook your meal while you’re at class, and then come home to a nice dinner is ready in minutes. As an added bonus, if you make too much, freeze your leftovers in reasonable portions for later and you’re set for the week. Try a chili recipe to get you started!
Before you shop: If an event on campus has free food then go to it! It’s the easiest way to get in a quick meal without the hassle. Also join some clubs as they provide both food and a way to connect and immerse yourself in college life.