College students are notorious for many things, but we’re only going to talk about one right here: not eating very well. Between lack of coinage and general cluelessness about cooking, it can be tough to come up with a decent meal.
But don’t resign yourself to eating bad meals or breaking the bank on takeout. With a little creativity, you can eat pretty well on a budget.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Seriously, don’t do it. It leads to some really bad decisions and over-spending.
- Do like Santa. Make a list before you go, check it twice, and stick to it at the store.
- Go cheap. Your food doesn’t need a fancy label to taste good. Buying store brands and discounted items can help you save, and checking the “unit price” label (on the shelf under the item) lets you compare apples to apples on price.
- Buy the basics in bulk. Noodles, rice, beans, tuna, soups and canned veggies are all good basics that you can use in a variety of meals. They’re not super expensive and they last practically forever. If you have decent freezer room, stock up on meats (like chicken breast) and frozen veggies. They tend to be cheaper in large amounts, plus it gives you options for healthy meals. And skip the single-serving packages of almost anything, it’s cheaper to buy a bunch and divvy it into individual portions yourself.
- Spice it up. Make sure you have a few basic spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder) and sauces (soy, Worcestershire, mustard). You don’t have to buy these often, and when it comes to making food more interesting, they’re the gift that keeps on giving.