The budget of a college student is stereotypically small for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck eating ramen noodles and Kraft Mac N Cheese.
- Chicken Tacos: 1 lb chicken* cooked
- Beef Tacos: 1 lb ground beef cooked
- Taco shells or tortillas
- Sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. if you want
Tacos are one of my favorite meals because they’re hearty and delicious, but very cheap. If you want to go the extra mile, you can make your own tortillas. White Wings makes a tortilla mix that you just add water to – it’s very easy, just roll the dough, flatten it and pan fry.
*What kind of chicken? Light or dark meat, bone in or out, it only matters for amount of prep. If you want to get bone-in chicken, you can boil it til it’s almost done and then peel the meat off. White meat shreds better than dark meat. I pan fry it with seasonings and butter or olive oil.
Who needs cable when you can watch all your TV online – for free? According to this article by Variety, nearly 22 million adults cancelled their cable and satellite TV by the end of 2017! With the average cost of cable TV at around $100 per month, you can save a ton of money by cutting the cable cord. These websites will let you watch your favorite shows and movies online, for free! If you have a tool like Chromecast, Roku, or the Amazon Firestick you can stream videos from your phone to your TV.
Free TV Online
- Popcorn Flix
- Snag Films
- Tubi TV
- YouTube, which is not supposed to have copyrighted content, has plenty of it. There are a lot of series uploaded to YouTube.
- Major networks like Lifetime, ABC, NBC, and PBS let you watch some episodes for free online.
- Hulu and Netflix are not free, but you can get free trials. Even if you do sign up, at only $8/month for Hulu and $10/month for Netflix, the cost is only a fraction of a cable bill.
Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things. One of the first things to go for college students is food, because it can be so expensive. I know how hard it is to be creative when trying to eat for only a few dollars per meal. Fortunately for you, I made a list of budget meals for college students. While they’re not all healthy, you’ll be fed with money in the bank.
Most college students can budget about $5 to $10 a day for meals each month, and Ramen noodles get old quick. I have a few tips that can help you make the most of your grocery budget without breaking the bank.
Tips for Meal Planning
Coupons make a huge difference. You can score major discounts when you combine manufacturer coupons with your local grocery store’s coupons.
Shop Store Brand
Let’s keep it real: the only good mac and cheese is Kraft. But for most everything else, the store brand is just as delicious as name brands. In some cases, like the Costco brand Kirkland Signature, the store brand is often better!
Never shop hungry and always shop with a list. Plan your meals for the week, utilizing leftovers as often as possible. You can make a crock pot full of shredded chicken on Sunday, and use it throughout the week for nachos, quesadillas, soups, burritos, chicken salad, and so on. Plan ahead so you know exactly what, and how much, you need.
Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Try out “Meatless Mondays” for an easy way to cut a few dollars from your budget. Replace meat with black beans, tofu,
If you’re budget is tight at the end of the month, you might still get stuck with Ramen noodles. Keep your kitchen stocked with affordable items Sriracha, green onions, dried seaweed, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs for an instant upgrade.
Buy In Bulk
If you’re lucky enough to have access to bulk stores like Costco or Winco, these are most often your most budget-friendly bets.
Budget Meal Ideas
Here is a list of cheap, but filling, meals that I eat regularly.
- Eggs. Scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, baked, in a frittata, as a quiche – eggs are a great source of protein.
- Grilled cheese & tomato soup
- Cheese quesadilla
- Upgraded ramen
- Protein pancakes
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt
- hot dogs/chili dogs
- baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
- jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
- tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
- chicken quesadillas
- if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
- macaroni and hot dogs
- Frito pie
- Homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)
- frozen pizza
- store brand TV dinners
- Spaghetti-O’s (or your favorite canned meals from childhood)