Having enough money for food is a big problem in college, especially if you want to avoid eating junk food and Ramen noodles every day. Many think that eating unhealthy is their only option if they don't want to starve, but that's far from being the truth. Even living in a dorm room where hot plates aren't allowed is no longer an excuse. If you're entering college and looking for a way to eat well without emptying your wallet, there are several ways to go about it that don't require asking your parents for money.
Work at a restaurant
Not only is working at a restaurant a way to bring in money, but you also get employee discounts or free food. If possible, skip the fast food places and opt for diners or fine dining restaurants. It's a great job to have while you're in college and if you work in a busy area, you can make quite a bit in tips.
Evaluate meal plans
Many college students opt for a meal plan, but you'd be surprised how many don't get much use out of it. There are quite a few, especially those who are trying to eat healthy, who make their own food instead and prefer it to cafeteria food. Evaluate the meal plans that are available and consider skipping it if you feel you're not going to use it often.
Shop at a dollar store
I have such a love of dollar stores. Some people turn their nose up at them, but you can buy a lot of quality products for a fraction of what you would pay in a grocery store. Frozen and canned vegetables, tuna, soup and various other food items are ideal to pick up at a dollar store when you want to save some cash.
Skip the brand names
Some go right for the brand name products when they go shopping, but many times store brands are just as good. I used to have a Stop & Shop in my area and I was a bit hesitant to try their products, but it turns out I actually prefer them to brand name equals, not only in terms of price but because they also taste better. Give them a shot and you could save quite a bit of money.
Make and freeze
A great way to eat on a college budget is to make food in bulk and freeze it. This method is also perfect for those who have a super busy schedule and barely any time to cook. Spend a few hours making certain dishes in bulk, such as stew or soup, then place them in containers until you have to defrost them to eat.
Certain basic ingredients are excellent to keep on hand and can be used in many types of recipes. Chicken, beans, spinach and pastas are four great options that are inexpensive, can fill you up and taste great. Keep them on hand at all times and you'll never be short on dishes to cook.
Have potluck dinners
Getting together with friends is one of the best things to do in college, so why not use it to your advantage? Everyone loves to eat, so get a group together and have a potluck dinner. Whether you do it as part of a group at school or just amongst your friends, it can save everyone a huge amount of money and depending on how many people attend and how much food there is, there's also a good chance to take away some leftovers as well.
With all the possible ways to eat well and healthy in college, instant noodles and junk food shouldn't be your only two options. Making a budget each week is also going to be a huge help. When you go shopping, stay focused only on what you need to buy without taking any detours that can add up. With a little planning and preparation, you'd be surprised just how many healthy and delicious budget-friendly meals you can come up with during your college years.
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