cooking

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

Life Skills College Doesn’t Teach You

When entering the real world after college, many recent graduates are unprepared for the real world and lack basic life skills and knowledge. This isn’t always the fault of the education system or a lack of effort. There are simply some things that we need to know that we are not taught in traditional education. Rather we must make an effort to learn these skills ourselves and must ready ourselves for the real world. Here are five important life skills all students should be taught before graduating college in order to be ready for the real world.

How to Prepare for An Interview

life skills - interview

One of the most important aspects of the real world is knowing how to prepare for a job interview. It is important to know how to dress oneself properly and appropriately and how to behave within an interview. Although past experience and knowledge are very important in getting a job, the interview itself is how employers decide whether or not you are suitable for the job.  Before going to an interview it is of vital importance to do proper research on the company, the position itself, and the culture of the position.

How to Do Your Own Taxes

life skills - taxes

Although many people rely on personal accountants to do their taxes for them, it is important to at least have a grasp on how to go about doing your own taxes. Everyone has to do them and by learning how to do them, you can save money by not hiring someone else to do something that you can do yourself. If you are employed and earning money you will have to file taxes. Understanding how taxes affect your income and whether or not you are being taxed too much or too little is quite important.

How to Cook Proper Meals

life skills - cooking

In college it is possible to skate by with only knowing a couple basic meals or by relying on meal plans or the traditional ramen noodle diet that college students seem to go with quite often.  Once in the real world it is necessary to not only know how to cook for yourself, but to know how to prepare healthy meals that get you all the nutrients and vitamins that you need. By learning how to cook proper meals you can not only keep yourself healthy, but can also save quite a bit of money by cutting down on how often you eat out.

How to Manage Money

life skills - money

Many college students have never had much financial freedom and have had their parents either handle their finances completely or control them for the most part. In the real world, it is necessary to keep track of what you are spending and earning in order to ensure that you have enough to make it through the month or to do the little things you want to do. Investing in a basic finance course or enlisting the help of a friend to teach you how to handle money is a great idea. It is also a smart idea to learn a little more about banking and to learn to budget expenses monthly and weekly.

How to Balance Social and Work Life

life skills - work life balance

One of the worst mistakes that recent graduates make is focusing too much on either the social or professional aspects of their lives.  Some focus wholeheartedly on work, putting all of their effort into furthering their career without leaving time for relationships and friends. On the other hand, many do not know how to focus on their work without cutting down on the social life that they enjoyed during college, and struggle to either find a job or keep up with their work life. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean your social life needs to be over. However, it doesn’t mean that focusing on work isn’t important. It is imperative to find a healthy balance between the two.

Although it is important to enjoy college and the freedom that you enjoy, it is also necessary to learn a few life skills that are of the uttermost importance.  Doing so will help you find success upon graduating.

6 Valentine’s Day Ideas for Singles

Being single on Valentine’s Day does not have to be dull.  If you’re bummed about not having a Valentine this year, here are some ideas to make it a great day anyway!

1. Cook your favorite food.

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Cook a meal that makes you really happy.  Comfort food or a favorite family recipe is always a good choice.  Valentine’s Day is about loving yourself just as much as any other kind of love, so treat yourself!

2. Have a movie marathon.

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Have some of your close single friends over and watch a ton of movies and eat some good snacks.  Pick movies you all love, ones you all haven’t seen before or have everyone bring their favorite movie.

3. Go shopping.

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Go for some retail therapy this Valentine’s Day! Go by yourself or with a group of single friends. Pro Tip: Don’t make this an errands type of shop, treat yourself to something you don’t really need but will make you happy. You’re worth it!

4. Throw a themed party.

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You can throw a Valentine’s Day themed party to liven up the night! Getting your friends together for a fun night is always great and a theme adds to the fun. Pro Tip: Invite over both your male and female single friends and maybe love will spark!

5. Have a board game night.

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A little friendly competition can turn into a great time and board games are great for making that happen.  You can go for classic board games from your childhood or go for some more adult games.  Just go for whatever you think you and your friends will have more fun with and you’re good to go!

6. Have a Baking Party.

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Who needs an excuse to bake some Valentine’s themed treats?  There is something for everyone: heart-shaped cookies, red velvet cupcakes or frosted brownies? I’ll take all three. Have everyone decorate his/her treats with whatever toppings you pick up (red or pink icing, heart-shaped sprinkles, candy pieces, etc.).

Pro Tip: Most importantly this Valentine’s Day: treat yourself!  Do something that you really enjoy.  Hang out with people who make you happy.  Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to be alone.  Don’t get hung up about not having a significant other.  You can have just as much fun with some good friends and good food!

I hope these Valentine’s Day ideas for singles helps you have the perfect day. Comment below with your favorite idea!