Food

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

Simple Ways to Live a Healthier Life!

We all want to be healthier but not all of us want to make big sacrifices to reach this goal. I may be able to help you out. Read these simple ways to live a healthier life!

1. Switch to Whole Grains.

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Everyone loves carbs, but a lot of the ones many of us eat everyday are not great for you. Instead of white bread, go for whole wheat or multigrain bread. Instead of white rice, go for brown rice, quinoa, or wild rice. Whole grains have much more nutritional value and have tons of health benefits including heart health, reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases, and slower digestion (which is good for lessening blood sugar spikes!) It’s actually quite easy to just substitute whole grains where you would normally eat refined grains without a massive change in your meals.

2. Go Carb-Free for One Meal a Day.

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This is typically easiest to do at breakfast. Go for things low in fat and high in protein, such as fat free yogurt or eggs. If you’re worried about the cholesterol in eggs, use one regular egg and the rest egg whites. You’ll still get the protein benefits with less of the cholesterol that comes with the yolk. For the yogurt option, you can go for a fat-free yogurt or low calorie Greek yogurt and then add fresh fruit and some chia seeds. Chia seeds are a super food with lots of protein, Omega-3s, and soluble fiber. They don’t really have a flavor so you can add them to lots of things for added nutrients! You can also incorporate the yogurt option into a smoothie with frozen fruit.

3.Eat More Soluble Fibers.

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Soluble fiber is better for you than insoluble fiber because it dissolves into the water in your body to create a viscous liquid/gel that prevents some of the fat and sugar in your food from absorbing, which can help reduce cholesterol or maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. It also helps to prevent your risk of diabetes. You can find soluble fiber in foods such as apples, oat bran, chia seeds, beans, barley, and sweet potatoes.

 4. Incorporate Regular Exercise into Your Routine.

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Take advantage of the gyms you have on campus. Try to go 3-4 times a week and find a fitness routine that you like and can manage. Do a mixture of cardio and weight training. Maybe get on the elliptical for a half hour and then head over to the free weights and resistance bands. If the gym isn’t your thing, try doing outdoor activities like jogging, hiking, biking, etc. You can even find guided workouts on YouTube if you’d rather exercise in your room! Just find something that works for you and stick with it. Eventually you’ll see results and you’ll be able to work up to more intense workouts. Go at your own pace, be safe, and don’t do more than you can handle. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually, so take it slow and build from there!

Love Always, Pinterest

Pinteresthowtostartablogonline.net

Being introduced to Pinterest was the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. I have, however, learned how great Pinterest actually is.

1. Recipes. FEAR NO COOKING PAN! Pinterest has been proven to help turn you from Ramen Noodle Nancy to a 5 star chef in just a matter of minutes. Pinterest is full of endless amounts of fast, easy, tasty and healthy step by step instructions of recipes that will taste like a party in your mouth. It’ll be impossible to go back to eating microwave dinners after scrolling through your timeline.

CAUTION: you may possibly burn down your building in the process of attempting to be the next Betty Crocker, don’t worry your friends will thank you when they see all the cute firefighters.

2. Appearance. You can easily spruce up your dorm room with quick simple D.I.Y crafts, put together outfits for the week, and makeup/hair tips to help you look “natural” in your 9:00am class so you could catch that cutie’s eye without looking like you’re trying too hard. Who said you can’t be Fabulous on a budget?!

CAUTION: If your D.I.Y. crafts end up looking like a kindergartener’s art project…give all the credit to your roommate!

3. Dream Wedding. In the world of Pinterest, planning out every last detail to your dream wedding while you’re still single is totally normal. If you want to have the best and most memorable wedding ever you’re going to need to prepare 4,5,6 or heck maybe 10 years in advance, darling it’ s never too early. Besides who needs to pay thousands of dollars for a fancy wedding planner when you have a Pinterest account?! With the money you save from not hiring a planner you can use it for your dream honeymoon which you can also plan on Pinterest. *hint, hint*

CAUTION: Mentioning your Pinterest wedding board on the first date is not the ideal ice breaker, you may just end up walking back to campus alone.

Pinterest is the ultimate survival guide of living on a budget. You can be super hip without having to move back in with your parents. Be careful, you might get hooked.

Pinteresthttps://about.pinterest.com

Check out our eCampus Pinterest when you have some free time: www.pinterest.com/ecampusdotcom/

Study Abroad: Eating too Much, Eating too Little

It’s like freshman year all over again…the dreaded thought of weight gain. In a foreign country with an entirely different diet than the States, it can be hard to maintain your weight and fitness—especially when you have to juggle class, exploring your new home, and venturing off on the weekends to new places! Not to mention having a host mom who likes to fill your plate with three courses at 8 pm. Others try to save money or avoid the weight sitch entirely by eating infrequently and as little as possible—no buono!

Food is an important part of every culture. Italy is all about the pasta, bread and vegetables, versus Americans chowing down on hotdogs and hamburgers. But if you look around Italy, you’ll see mostly skinny or average weight citizens ordering light lunches and big dinners. So how can you handle a pasta lunch, and a pasta dinner followed by potatoes, meat and salad, and ending with a fruit salad? You have to keep your food quantities in perspective. Follow the culture. If they eat a lighter lunch, follow suit. You might get hungry again before dinner if you’re used to eating earlier or having a larger lunch, but give yourself some time to adjust. Grab a snack or go exploring to keep your mind off food (though passing so many little gelato stores might make it worse). After an adjustment period, you’ll be able to eat on the same schedule as the Italians, or whatever culture you’re experiencing, do.

Saving money is always a concern when abroad, but don’t let that keep you from eating! You don’t have to go to a nice restaurant every time you want to eat. Check out grocery stores—they often have cheap, already made options for lunch or ingredients to make your own. Go out to eat with a large group and try sampling a variety of dishes; by splitting the bill, you’ll still get all the flavors of your country at a lower price then trying to work your way through the restaurant’s menu on a variety of visits. Also, simply checking out the smaller cafes and lesser known restaurants on side streets could lead to big money savings—and having a secret hangout!

Besides money and weight gain, others are just concerned about pleasing their host families. When you first arrive, just talk about what you can or can’t/won’t eat and go from there. Get a sense of their eating habits—how much they eat and when they eat—and try to mimic them as much as possible. They want you to have a good time studying abroad and want to make the adjustment easier, which can mean making you feel at home with a big hearty meal. Don’t feel like you have to eat it all. Learn how to say “I’m full” or something along those lines, and politely decline. They won’t be offended and it can actually help them learn how much food they should make so it’s sufficient for the whole family.

Most importantly, you need to enjoy your abroad experience. Don’t let counting calories or coins hold you back from eating and doing what you want to do. Once you immerse yourself in the culture, measuring out everything you eat won’t matter anymore. Besides, there’s always time to lose weight if you need to or form a stricter budget for the rest of your stay. In the meantime, buon appetito!

 

 

Real Chinese Food

In my three years of college I have experienced a wide variety of take-out, fast food. In fact, there are a plethora of options right near my campus, as I’m sure is the case with many of you.

In Philadelphia, we can get cheese steaks, pizza, chicken, fries, burgers, Chinese food—you name it, in about 30 minutes or less.

A personal favorite of mine is New Asia, a Chinese takeout 3 blocks from main campus. They don’t do delivery, but they made a mean pizza roll (oh, did I mention they specialize in both Chinese and American favorites?).

On any given day, New Asia caters to a variety of students. You can get General Tso’s chicken, friend rice by the bucket, and noodles for days. I’m always in Heaven.

Then I actually went to China.

I still like New Asia, and you can bet I’ll be back there in August. But, now that I have experienced real “Chinese” food, I don’t know which I’ll prefer.

When I arrived in Beijing, I had trouble with chopsticks, as many newbies do, but I also had mixed feelings about the menu.

Some food was similar—dumplings for instance a big deal in China. They have every kind and are considered a staple at most meals. New Asia could compete easily with some of the dumplings I tried.

But other offerings seemed to come from different places. First of all, in China, they don’t name their food after Generals. So, General Tso’s is unheard of. In fact, I didn’t see it once.

And another misconception? Rice.

At school, I could order rice, just rice, and be satisfied in my Chinese food craving. However, in China, rice is not a main dish. In fact, it’s served at the very end of the meal, almost as an afterthought. It signifies that the other courses are finished.

When my class would go to restaurants and not be particularly thrilled with the duck liver, or heart that we tried, we would patiently wait for the “fried rice” or noodles. We would have waited forever. Although it exists, and is amazingly delicious, it’s not a huge part of the menu. Instead you have fine meats, marinated veggies, dumplings, crab, and soy.

I had a blast trying the food in China. I had crab dumplings, duck heart, and the best cucumbers I’ve ever tasted.

But here’s what I discovered: Chinese food in Philadelphia is a distant cousin to Chinese food in China. Both are good, but both are different.

Because we live in such a huge country, with plenty of cultures, influences and people we have access to food from all over the world. Don’t be fooled. Food is specific to location and local influence. In name alone, it may appear to be one thing, but stay open minded. Be prepared to have multiple food perspectives.

Just like China, Pizza in Italy probably doesn’t taste like pizza from the dining hall, or maybe it does? You tell me.