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How to Save Money On Food in College

In college, spending is a constant. Tuition, housing, and transportation can weigh heavily on your bank account, so you want to save where you can. Often, students will sacrifice when it comes to food, choosing to miss meals or opt for snacks rather than a balanced, full meal. It’s a quick way to save a little cash, but it can result in a lack of nutritional health. What other options are out there? Here are some solid ways to save money on food.

Cooking at Home

Cooking is an easy way to save money and improve your diet. By cooking at home you can have more control over your health, gain new skills, and be more financially conscious.

Learn to Cook

College is all about developing new skills, and while it may sound difficult, learning to cook is an easy, fun way to save money. Anyone can learn to cook, and there are endless arrays of step-by-step recipes and how-to videos at your fingertips (hint: just browse Pinterest!). You can find fast, easy beginner level meals that taste great. Who knows? You might even be able to show off at Thanksgiving.

TIP: Learning to cook has never been easier! The Welcome Table’s “How to Learn to Cook (for Beginners)” and Bon Appétit’s “The 7 Essentials of Becoming a Better Cook” are great resources for beginners and future chefs! 

Learning how to cook has become a health-focused hobby,  making it a great way to begin creating your own healthy eating habits. You don’t even have to be a pro! And money is no issue. There are plenty of healthy options on a low budget.

TIP: Want to eat healthily but don’t have much money? Find tips in The Girl on Bloor’s blog post, “EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET + 10 CHEAP DINNER IDEAS.”

You can also invest in cooking tools to help you out in the kitchen. Think about purchasing appliances, dishes, and utensils that fit your needs. While it seems like an expensive goal, having cooking tools and appliances on hand can be a big money saver in the long run, especially if you live in a dorm where they are not provided. Cooking tools also give you more food options and make meal prep easier.

Plan & Prep

Meal planning and meal preparation save time and money, especially for a college student’s hectic lifestyle. Meal planning entails finding recipes or choosing meal ideas and buying ingredients needed for the meal, while meal prep is about actually preparing the food to be cooked.

Meal planning eliminates worries about what your next meal will be and how you will afford it by planning ahead and managing funds. Not to mention, indecision is removed, so you won’t waste twenty minutes trying to decide what you want to eat two or three times a day. Finding recipes and buying the needed supplies ahead of time will make the rest of the week a breeze.

TIP: New to meal planning? Check out thekitchn’s article, “The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning: What to Know, How to Succeed, and What to Skip.”

Meal prep makes quick meals fast and convenient; prepping them in advance reduces cooking time and may only require a few steps like assembly or microwaving. Prepping meals at the start of the week essentially does half of the work for the rest of the week. The time it takes to prep your meals is easily worth the time you save that can be used for other activities like homework or free-time.

TIP: Want to learn how to meal prep? See Healthline’s article “How to Meal Prep — A Beginner’s Guide” for tips and info!

Cheap Meals Are Your Friend

College students have a particular brand when it comes to their lifestyle. Lack of sleep, a huge workload, and the signature broke college student foods often prevail. Ramen, mac n’ cheese, and a collection of junk food – these foods aren’t usually healthy, but they’re really cheap. Ready-to-make meals are the savior of college students everywhere. Until you get tired of the taste.

While you shouldn’t eat ramen all the time, that sort of cheap meal is a cost-efficient option you’ll likely benefit from. And they come in a variety of options, like instant noodles, frozen microwave dinners, and pizza in all forms. Cooking is a useful skill, but it isn’t always the first priority. Stock up on ready-to-make options.

There are other options besides ready-to-make meals, too. Easy beginner meals and dining hall delicacies can be beneficial, cost-efficient options that can be healthy and tasty. Don’t count them out if you have access to them! The internet is home to plenty of recipes to suit your needs, and you never know what you’ll find on campus.

TIP: Want to eat cheaply without sacrificing your wallet or tastebuds? Check out Goodful on Buzzfeed’s “22 College Eating Hacks That Are Cheap, Easy, And Healthyish” for tips and tricks on making the most of what you have.

How to Make the Most of Your Money

Budgeting

Meal planning allows you to budget, or plan the amount of money you will spend on food. Determine how much money you have to spend on food. You can make a weekly or monthly budget, factoring in groceries, eating out, and snacks. Have a plan for your spending habits.

Ex. You have $70 to spend on food for the week, or $10 a day. After adding up the cost of each item you need, you plan to spend $50 at the grocery store. That leaves $20 to eat out once or twice during the week.

Budgeting also makes grocery shopping more effective. With a budget in mind, writing grocery lists becomes a more organized process, especially with a meal plan in mind. And rather than filling up the cart with whatever you see, you have a plan of action and an ideal spending limit. With both aspects of shopping – expenses and goods – in mind, a student can make the best choices for themselves.

TIP: Budgeting doesn’t have to be a struggle. See “How To Make A Food Budget You’ll Stick To” from Work Week Lunch to learn how to make a realistic budget!

Student Discounts

Many businesses have student discounts, especially those near campus. Restaurants, movie theaters, and your campus’ corporate partners can off.

Couponing + Couponing Apps

Couponing is known to be a time-consuming but beneficial hobby. Coupons reduce prices of everyday products and can make shopping more accessible to those with less money. People who coupon actively look for and pursue deals they find. College students would do well to learn how to coupon. It could be a major advantage not just for their food budgets, but also their budgets for basic necessities like hygiene and cleaning products.

TIP: Want to learn how to coupon? “How to Start Couponing for Beginners: 2020 Guide” from Thrifty Nomads can give you all the information you need!

Fast Food

While eating fast food all the time can be costly and unhealthy, it can be a good change every once in a while.

Take advantage of as many deals and promotions as you can! Dollar menu items can be much less costly than items on the regular menu, making them better options for eating out. Students can even purchase several items to last a second meal. Promotions and happy hours can offer free and reduced prices, so if you find yourself hungry at favorable times of day, treating yourself isn’t a bad idea.

TIP: Who doesn’t like free stuff? Save The Student’s “Ultimate list of free stuff” is your guide to freebies from all sorts of restaurants, stores, and websites!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

Affordable Self-Care Products for College Students

College is a time filled with transitions, challenges, and personal growth. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced nature of your surroundings and forget to take care of yourself.

Knowing how to practice self-care is one of the easiest ways to prevent burnout, minimize stress, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What is self-care?

Self-care has been defined as, “a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.”

Proper self-care is crucial for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. You must make yourself a priority and take the time to address your needs. Start by focusing on yourself and paying attention to what your body is telling you.

Maintaining your happiness and inner peace isn’t one-size-fits-all, but it’s a lot easier when you have the right items in your self-care toolkit. Everyone has different needs, and you may need to try different products, brands, and techniques to see what works best for your specific needs. 

We’ve rounded up a few of the best self-care products that’ll help you feel renewed in hard times, so no matter what your preferred method, you can keep up with your favorite feel-good routine.

Sleep

Before pulling an all-nighter, there are a few things you should know about sleep. Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of living a healthy, happy life. It impacts your psychological health, metabolism, cardiovascular health, and immune system. 

Insufficient sleep or inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to decreased grades, attention and memory, so a late-night study session may have the opposite intended effect. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. 

  • Eye Sleep Mask – Eye masks are great for relaxing your eyes and giving you a consistent amount of darkness each night. They can also be used to relieve insomnia, migraines, dry eyes, and more. Looking for more options? Check out Amazon’s list of best-selling sleep masks. 
  • Weighted Blanket – When you’re stressed, you may benefit from a weighted blanket and its effect of weighted therapy. This type of therapy is known for increasing levels of serotonin and melatonin while you sleep, which means it can help insomnia, falling asleep, and staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleepytime Tea –  A relaxing herbal blend of chamomile, spearmint and other soothing herbs. This tea also includes valerian root, which is a trusted natural sleep aid.

Relaxing Pillow Spray – Spritz onto pillows just before bedtime. This natural, aroma-therapeutic blend of lavender, chamomile and vetivert, calms both mind and body – helping to reduce anxiety and improve your sleep quality.

Health and Wellness

Your body needs to be properly fueled to function. This means listening to your body by drinking water and making healthy eating choices. The types of foods you eat crucially impact the bacteria that live in your stomach, which makes a significant impact on your health, well-being, and feelings of vitality. 

  • Reusable Water Bottle – Studies show that even mild dehydration can impair energy level, mood, memory and brain performance. It is recommended that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Carrying a reusable water bottle will help you stay hydrated throughout the day. Want to take your water bottle to the next level? Check out this Larq self-cleaning water bottle that neutralizes up to 99.99% of harmful bacteria and viruses using UV-C light. 
  • Reusable Lunch Containers – Not eating enough during the day can lead to fatigue, low energy levels, and headaches. When you make the effort to prepare your meal ahead of time, you are investing in yourself as your food is full of nutrients that allow your body to function at its best.
  • Protein Bars – Protein bars can be a convenient way to add carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. Many protein bars are a good source of micro-nutrients, such as calcium, B vitamins, potassium, and iron. They can also provide a boost of energy to fuel your body for a workout, or aid muscle repair after exercise. 

Vitamins – Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and boost your immune system. You can choose vitamins that focus on specific needs, like stress, beauty, or sleep.

Exercise

Being a student often means adopting a sedentary lifestyle because you’re constantly sitting in class, typing behind a laptop, or reading a textbook. You need to take care of your body if you want it to run efficiently. There’s a strong connection between your body and your mind; when caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better too. 

  • Yoga Mat – Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration. 
  • Fitness Tracker – Smart fitness products can help you stay motivated and improve your health by tracking your activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep all in one place. 
  • Foam Roller – With the right equipment, foam rolling is a deep-tissue massage you can give yourself at home every single day. A cylinder of firm foam pushes up against sore muscles to loosen targeted areas, prevent injuries, and make you feel good both before and after working out.
  • Hot or Cold Compression Wrap – You can treat everything from pulled muscles to inflammation with ice packs or heating pads. Treating pain with hot and cold helps to increase blood flow, relax muscles, and relieve inflamed joints.

Take A Break

When studying or writing an essay, take regular breaks to refresh your brain and improve your focus. When we take a break, we’re not shirking responsibility; we’re taking care of ourselves so we’ll have the stamina to be our best.

Chronic stress can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems, and other issues, so a break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity. Engage your senses in a relaxing activity. Eat your favorite snack, light a candle, take a warm shower/bath with your favorite bath products, or wrap yourself in a soft, cozy blanket. 

  • Essential Oil Diffuser – You can choose from a number of scents such as lavender and mint. Using a diffuser has a myriad of benefits – it can relieve stress, increase memory, boost energy levels, improve healing capabilities, alleviate headaches, and act as a sleep aid. 
  • eReader – Reading is an independent activity that can inspire, educate, and inform. Research conducted by the University of Sussex showed that reading decreases stress levels by 68%. It also helps reduce your heart rate and release muscle tension. 
  • Face Mask – Masks can help hydrate skin, remove excess oils and help improve the appearance of pores. Face masks can also be quite therapeutic – when infused with aromatic essential oils like mint and rosemary, a face mask can lift your spirit by stimulating your senses. 
  • Bath Bombs – A soak in the tub can boost your mind, help you wind down after a long day or soothe sore muscles. Bath bombs clean, deodorize, and repair skin, and strengthen blood vessels. The rejuvenating enzymes will leave you with healthier, younger looking skin.
  • Mental Health Apps – What’s one thing that tends to be with us no matter where we are? Our phones! Tap into some of these health apps that can provide you with tools for managing anxiety, stress, and even conflict.

Express Yourself

Self-care is more than physical health. It’s improving emotional and mental health as well. Encouraging ongoing mental wellness and experiencing creative and stimulating mental activities will provide you with the ability to discover, process, and evaluate your feelings more effectively. 

  • Journal – Journaling has many benefits for your mental and emotional wellness; it can boost your mood, increase self-awareness, and help clear your mind. Writing reduces stress as it helps individuals process their thoughts and emotions. It can help you think critically and review a situation in a different light.
  • Guided Self-Care Journal – Use a journal with guided prompts to promote self kindness, meditation, stress relief and gratitude. Practicing gratitude shifts your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Instead of feeling worried about what you’re lacking, you can turn your attention to appreciation for the things you already have.
  • Coloring Book – The act of coloring requires repetition and attention to detail, so you are able to focus on the activity, rather than your worries. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest after a long, stressful day. 
  • Sketchbook – Art is often used as a medium for therapy as it can help to reduce stress and act as a channel for expressing your feelings and emotions. If you have difficulty putting words to your feelings, art can help you understand them.

Meditate

Spiritual self-care doesn’t have to involve religion. It can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe. Whether you enjoy meditation, attending a religious service, or praying – spiritual self-care is important.

Meditation helps reduce negative energy in your life; this includes stress, anxiety, negative thoughts and worries. Research shows that meditation can help with anxiety and depression, chronic pain, heart disease and high blood pressure.

To get started, all you need is a few minutes each day. Find a quiet space and practice your breathing. Staying focused on your breath removes distractions, worries, and restlessness from the mind.

  • Meditation Pillow – A meditation pillow is designed to improve your spinal alignment, give you proper height, and provide a more comfortable and deeper meditation. This pillow will also relieve pressure from your back, ankles, and knees. 
  • Chakra Crystals – If you’re interested in aligning your chakras, try using chakra crystals. The gems interact with your body’s energy and chakras, and have the ability to improve your physical and emotional state. You can place them on different parts of your body or around your room. 
  • Himalayan Salt Lamp – True Himalayan salt lamps are made from salt harvested from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. Salt lamps provide health benefits because they are “natural ionizers,” meaning they change the electrical charge of the air. They can help to clean the air in your home, soothe allergies, boost your mood and help you sleep. 
  • Acupressure Mat – From Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure is a technique used to release blocked qi, or energy, throughout the body. Once these blockages are removed, pain may be reduced or completely alleviated. These mats can help find relief with back pain, tight or stiff muscles, stress and tension, and insomnia. 

Life can be hard sometimes, especially during college – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. 

The most important part of self-care is being kind to yourself. Don’t punish yourself for forgetting to go on a run or being too busy to sit down with a book! It’s more important that these changes are sustainable and nourishing, rather than feeling like a chore. 

Self-care encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit the good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself. When you pay attention to your well-being, you’re not considering your needs alone. You’re reinvigorating yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for the people around you. 

The more you can work self-care time into your schedule, the better you’ll be able to grow, enjoy your life, and thrive. So start today and keep it up – it won’t be long before you begin to feel the difference!  

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!