College Cooking on a Cheap Budget
So you’re a college student, and you’ve got to eat cheap, right? I guess that kind of goes without saying. Here are some ideas to help you eat on a tight budget but still eat as healthy as possible.
Make a list every week. What foods and other ingredients do you need for the meals you want to make?
Set a budget and stick to it faithfully. Check store flyers to see what’s on sale. Comparison-shopping is the way to go.
Schedule shopping and cooking time into your school week.
Clip coupons out of newspapers and use them to help keep costs low. When an item is on sale, AND you have a coupon for it that’s an even sweeter deal!
Keep a Running Tally
Keep a running tally in the grocery store as you place items in your cart, so you know exactly how much you’re spending. If you are not that good at doing math in your head, then bring a calculator along.
Pay with Cash
Debit and credit cards are convenient, but unfortunately, too many people tend to buy on impulse and/or spend beyond their limit. Don’t fall into that trap. Be smart!
Avoid purchasing prepared meals or those “just add meat or fish” kits. They are generally far too pricey for what you get, which is usually a small portion of rice or noodles and a bit of seasoning. They are not often the most nutritious options for meals either. Instead, try experimenting at home with your unique recipes and consider replicating your favourite mixes in your kitchen.
Fruits and Vegetables
Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables. When in the season they are reasonably priced. And the more vivid the colour, the more nutrient-rich produce tends to be. When fresh fruits and vegetables are too costly for your budget, consider frozen veggies/fruits.
Canned foods are the very cheapest but also the least healthy and the less appealing to the taste buds.
Frozen Vegetables & Berries
Another selling point about frozen vegetables and berries is that they are excellent bets for students on a tight budget. Just take out what you need and freeze the rest.
Second-hand shops are a great place to look for kitchen gear, such as used casserole dishes, nice vintage bowls, drinking glasses, pots, pans, and utensils. Plus these stores often carry items that are out of the ordinary and definite conversation pieces. Some of my favourite kitchen wear came from used stores, flea markets or yard sales.
Cookbooks are easy to come by for meal ideas if you know where to look. Borrow some from your local library or check out second-hand bookstores.
Don’t forget about the wealth of information that the Internet provides. Use keywords in search engines, such as “budget recipes”, “frugal cooking”, or “economic meal ideas” to find cheap recipes.