Eating Cheaply on a College Budget | 09.14.11

Posted in College Life By Student Loan Network Staff

NoodlesSeptember is an exciting time with all of the back to school chaos of getting settled in, making/reuniting with friends, and starting your classes and activities. This leaves little time to really watch what you’re eating, both for health and budget. While I’m no nutritionist, I can help you save money on the food you eat! Here are some low-cost ways to fuel up this coming year.

  • Stay away from frozen dinners. These can be as much as $5-$6 each! By making your own meals from scratch (while more time consuming) you can save big bucks, and stay healthier! You can buy enough pasta and veggies with that money to last for multiple meals, rather than that frozen, one-time serving.
  • If you’re on a meal plan, make the most of it! Avoid expensive items like fruit and buy these at a grocery store. Depending on the school, any unused meal plan money can be returned to you for other expenses. Of course, if your dining hall is a pay-per-entry style, stick a tupperware container in your bag and save your leftovers for later (if it’s not against your school’s policy)!
  • Avoid bottled water. Many college kids buy cases and cases of water to have handy. Besides being bad for the environment, constantly buying bottled water could get costly. Get a reusable water bottle and fill it at the dining hall or buy a water filter (if you’re opposed to tap water). Over 4 years of school, the savings could add up.
  • Limit dining out. An occasional late night run to McDonalds probably wont break the bank, but dining out often can deplete your bank account quickly.
  • Keep pasta and rice on hand. These are great to have around when you don’t feel like trekking to the dining hall; they’re cheap, filling, and good for you (depending on what else you add). Oh, and although it’s cliche, Ramen noodles got me through some late nights of studying. Besides being cheap, I happen to love them, but hey, not everyone can have my refined palate…
  • Hit up tonight’s philosophy event. Yup, really. Campus clubs and events often have an array of food for the guests. Stake out a meeting ahead of time and get a free meal. Who knows, you may even crash an interesting party and find a new favorite activity!

Do you have a tip for eating on a budget? Leave a comment and let us know!

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155 Responses to “Eating Cheaply on a College Budget”

  1. Jessica says on September 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm:

    Don’t eat just Ramen because it’s so cheap, it’ll never fill you up enough. Spaghetti is almost as cheap as Ramen, just as easy to make, and fills you up better.

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  2. Tikea says on September 23, 2011 at 11:24 am:

    Its going to be hard for me to change mi diet, I started gaining wait after I graduated.

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  3. Gabriella Willis says on September 23, 2011 at 11:13 am:

    The most healthy water is filter water so you should try you best not to drink bottle water. Even though you are told that it is healthy too.

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  4. MPM says on September 23, 2011 at 10:56 am:

    I use the meal plan, but am close enough to home to bring back ‘care packages’!

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  5. Alex Banks says on September 23, 2011 at 10:52 am:

    My dad taught me how to cook a quick, easy, cheap, and healthy pasta meal, that is delicious! All that is added is some butter, seasoning, and shredded parmeson Cheese

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  6. Eugene says on September 23, 2011 at 9:58 am:

    Definitely should have read this article before I went to college. Great advice!

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  7. Oladele Aina says on September 23, 2011 at 12:53 am:

    Go to market and buy raw food in large quantity,cook at home and preserving the leftover will save you handsome amount of money! Buying junk food may be dangerous to health lol…

    Reply To This Comment
  8. Kristen says on September 22, 2011 at 11:50 pm:

    Very Helpful!

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  9. Grace says on September 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm:

    I joined the cheese club at my school. Guess that means I will have enough food to go around! :D

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  10. Patti says on September 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm:


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  11. Erica Wallace says on September 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm:

    Dont take that late night run to McDonalds lol not healthy at all but yes it is cheaper than dining out!I love Ramen noodles and there are so many varieties of dry noodles. Take that rice and veggies you purchase and get creative.Deeelish!

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  12. Sarah Ross says on September 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm:

    I also owned a restaurant, Ken, and I agree with you, it is not easy running a restaurant especially with restaurant loans that we keep in mind. Thanks for this informative article.

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  13. Ken says on September 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm:

    Thanks for this info-deciding which food to serve in my resto that is affordable especially to college students. It will help me with my restaurant loans.

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  14. Angela says on September 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm:

    I always cook enough for leftovers. Saves me lots of time!

    Reply To This Comment
  15. molly says on September 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm:


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  16. Theresa says on September 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm:

    I am on a coffee only diet right now!

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