Thrifty Thursday: Saving Money on Food while in College



If you’re living away from home while in college, you’ll have to fend for yourself in the food department. New to the kitchen? Don’t worry, eating healthy on a budget isn’t impossible! Here are a few suggestions on how to find the healthiest food for your dollar:

1. Get the Most of your Meal Plan
Choose the meal plan that’s right for you:

  • If you are on an unlimited plan, get your money’s worth. Load up on healthy fruit and other snacks that you can put in your bag for later in the day. This will help prevent you from spending additional money on snacks.
  • If you are on a limited plan, choose filling protein- and fiber-rich foods that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.
  • And remember, the food on your meal plan is already paid for—don’t pay again to eat somewhere else. Opt to catch up with friends at your campus cafeteria instead of the local coffee shop, restaurant, or bar.

2. Drink Water
Carry a refillable water bottle with you. Water is a healthy choice that increases stamina at work and play, fills you up, and costs less than sodas and coffee drinks.

3. Substitute and Save
What are your favorite high-calorie, high-fat foods? A chocolate doughnut for breakfast? Chips for a study break? These items might taste good, but they usually don’t fill you up for as long, so you’re spending more in the long run. Look for snack substitutes with more fiber such as cereal bars and fresh fruit. This way you can cut calories and costs.

4. Plan Ahead
Does your goal to eat better weaken when your schedule is hectic? Take healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts with you on busy days. This helps you avoid vending machine and snack bar purchases. This works especially during finals week. Instead of all the caffeine and sugary candy, eat healthy. It’s better for your body and brain!

5. Cut Back on Prepackaged, Ready-Made Food.
Single-serve packages of food are more expensive, so buy them sparingly. For example:

  • Flavored oatmeal in individual packets costs more than $3 per pound, while bulk oatmeal costs under $1.
  • Loose popcorn, ready in seconds in an air popper, is a fraction of the cost of microwave popcorn packages or bags of already-popped corn.
  • Frozen dinners cost more than meals made from scratch.

6. Show your Student ID
Many local restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores offer discounts to college students. Take advantage of this opportunity!

7. Create a Grocery List and Stick to it
Don’t venture towards the eye-catching advertisements and definitely don’t go shopping when you are hungry. Create a list before you leave for the grocery store and only purchase the items on that list!

8. Use CouponsClip this group of six print coupons as elements store sale ad designs
Shop at stores that double the value of a coupon. Some stores will triple coupons. Coupons for FREE products are the best out of any coupon, and you should take time to find these. Coordinate coupons with store ads. Use coupons at stores where the item is already on sale to increase the value of the coupon.

9. Buy in Bulk
It tends to cost less if you buy larger quantities. Buy durable goods that you’ll need in the future, such as Kleenex or paper towels. Buying in bulk is great when purchasing non-perishable foods because they are shelf stable foods that normally do not spoil or decay. They last months!

Try a few of these suggestions and watch the savings roll in! Seem overwhelming? Start by incorporating just three of these tips into your weekly routine.


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.


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