Eating on a college student’s budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things and food is high up on the list. It’s hard to be creative when trying to eat on a few dollars per meal. Ramen noodles get tiring. I’m by no means a great cook, but I do all right. For me and my boyfriend, we have a budget of $300 for food each month, which averages out to about $5 a day for each of us. And because we eat really cheap food (Ramen noodles, that cup of soup stuff, etc.) for lunch, it helps average out when we want nicer meals. Our local H-E-B Plus grocery store is very helpful with coupons. It seems as if there’s a coupon on half the items you see, including what they call meal deals, where if you buy the main thing, usually the meat, you get all the extras free (ketchup, buns, pickles, etc. if it was for hot dogs) and those are great.

One of my suggestions is to always use coupons. Also, make a list before you go to the store of necessary items for the week and stick to it. This is our biggest problem. I have a list, but we definitely don’t stick to it. I’m also starting to make a list of meals for the week. We really only plan a meal for dinner because lunch is usually Ramen or a PB&J.

Cheap Dinner Ideas

  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • frozen stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • grilled cheese
  • quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dog wieners
  • frito pie
  • Spaghetti-o’s or other Chef Boy-R-D canned foods
  • homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)

I’m trying to come up with more ideas, but being creative on a budget is tough. I’ve been searching for other websites that have helpful tips, but I haven’t come across very many good ones. I’m currently working on some inexpensive recipes to better food than frito pie and hot dogs.

16 responses to “Eating on a college student’s budget”

  1. Lucy says:

    Yay for HEB! I work at one myself, so I know all about those meal deals. They really are a great deal, and most people don’t even know about them. We usually have about one or two meal deals every week, and yes, it does seem as though HEB has coupons for every single item in the store. It’s really too bad that they don’t offer employee discounts. That would have saved me even more money!

  2. Havana says:

    Cool blog~! I like it so far and you have a lot of potential. :) I also love this post. LOL.

  3. Jess says:

    You basically just described my diet completely lol. I too have the starving college student cheap food died. Tuna’s cheap too- I eat a lot of tuna.

    What’s Frito pie? It sounds delicious.

  4. Amy says:

    RAMEN NOODLES!!! Whoo!

  5. Marsha says:

    Ooh, that’s a variety at a cheap cost too.

  6. Amber says:

    Wow, sounds like you eat pretty well and you have some great suggestions. When I was in college, it was all Ramen, PB&J and hotdogs for me, pretty much.

    To this day, I still love Ramen. 😀

  7. CHESSNOID says:

    This is a nice blog. I am no longer in college but still enjoy eating noodles daily. Cheers!

  8. Tip Diva says:

    If you’re on your school’s meal plan, sneak Ziplocks and Tupperware into the cafeteria to make off with some food for the day/week… you pay enough for the plan!

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  10. Nikki says:

    Great! Thanks. It is definitely so hard to keep to a list when you go the grocery store.. My suggestion is to not go when you are hungry — if you do, you will end up buying way more. Also… check out the weekly circulars at that store’s website online so you can see all the sales before you head out.

  11. Nutti says:

    If you can get a hold of a Crockpot. They are wonderful for cooking up huge batches of stuff and then reheating leftovers. Certainly taste better than some of the frozen dinners. Chili is a real easy and filling meal that’s great in a Crockpot. Also you can cook tougher cuts of meat for a LONG time in Crockpot & they come out tender. Any recipe I do in Crockpot usually has about a 20 minute prep & 4-8 hour cook time.

  12. audrey says:

    Quesidillas and wraps are deliciouse and cheap. I buy the small flour tortilla shells and make ham and cheese wraps, black bean wraps, even tuna wraps. I add cheese and sour cream to give it extra flavor. For the tuna wraps I mix sweet cubes and pepper with the tuna and then place it on the shell and then cover it with cheese and put it in the microwave. Then I put on the sour cream. Its yummy. Tortilla shells are a great alternative to bread if your watching your weight.

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  15. Stephen says:

    That is exactly my diet lol…recently i discovered some steamable meals in the Walmart freezer section. A good sized meal for under two bucks and its really good.

  16. Hayden says:

    Tuna Mac is also wonderful. Simply add a can of tuna to mac n cheese. Instant protein and tasty too.

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