Eating on a College Student’s Budget
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)