How to eat like a poor college student.

If you have a dining plan, try to make the most out of it. Before I leave, I always try to take a few fruits with me. A banana in my pocket, an apple in my hand, and an orange in my bookbag. If you’re really cheap or frugal, you can bring ziplock bags to make your own sandwiches at the dining hall and bring them to your room. You can bring bottles and fill it with soda or juice. Last year, I was thinking to “borrow” the coffee machine, but decided it would be too noticeable : )

Currently, I no longer have a dining plan. So for this summer, I bought my own groceries. On average, I spend only $100 a month on food which is pretty good. This is what I usually buy.

  • 20 frozen dinner meals @ $1/each = $20
  • 5 boxes of store-brand cereal @ $2/each = $10
  • 2.5 gallons of milk @ $4/gal = $10
  • about 10 lb of bananas @ $0.64/lb = $6.64
  • a dozen eggs @ $2/dozen = $2
  • some vegetables = $15
  • 2 jars of peanut butter @ 2/each = $4
  • 2 jars of jelly @ 2/each = $4
  • 2 packets of sandwich meat @ $3/each = $6
  • 1 packet of cheese @$3/each = $3
  • 30 packets of Ramon @ $0.25 each = $7.50

TOTAL = $88.14 (round up to $100 for little things I forgot to include)

I can’t remember the link, but on SDN, someone wrote that whenever a friend drove to Costco, they would tag-along. Then they would constantly eat free samples until they were full. That’s pretty hardcore right there.

Do any of you students or homeless people reading my blog know how to eat for cheap?

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8 Responses to “How to eat like a poor college student.”

  1. foo Says:

    $1 for a frozen dinner? Calculate noudles/rice with a self made (or perhaps als bought) sauce – its much less as $1…

    You can also do a sauce with tuner or vegetables or other integrates and can stay without any problem under 1$/meal.

  2. Pharmacy Mike Says:

    Where do you find frozen dinners for $1??? Lean Cuisine stuff costs over $3.00 per box. Stoeffers is about the same.

    I just spent $85 at the grocery store yesterday, and I only expect that to last me a little over a week.

  3. Jill Says:

    That is IMPRESSIVE. Kudos.

  4. pharmacykid Says:

    @foo: With noodles and vegetables, I’m sure you get get it down to less than $1/meal. The problem is I hate cooking. Looking at the grocery list above, practically none require cooking on the stove or in the oven.

    @PM: Banquet frozen dinners cost $1/each. They’re not very big so I have to supplement with rice to get full. The dinners look like this.

  5. foo Says:

    @pharmacykid: cooking isnt that difficult. If you cook noodles or rice, they will rest for 2-3 days. Cooking noodle/rice take around 10-15min while watching TV/reading mails or news. Sauce isn’t difficult, too. If you’re lacy, you can buy on-the-go sauce; usually one pack is enough for two meals – takes you 5min where you can spend 3min with other stuff. You can also put fish or meat in the sauce (takes 5 more minutes).

    I usually cook for 2-3 meals rice and noudles. Sometimes I cook in the evening for the next day, so I just need to put it in the microwave quick.

    What helped me the most: going through every rack/shelf in the super market and getting the idea what to mix togheter and whats quick to cook (10-15min/meal). Example: noudles/rice + sauce + hamburger/meatball. Sauce (2-5min), hamburger and noudles/rice in microwave (1-2min). If you want it more healthy, put some frozen vegetables in the microwave (and perhaps dont cook hamburger). Two different tasty meals done quick in the noon.
    Thats it. Two cheap quick and dirty meals. If you add some own spicys you can give everything your own touch.
    Another idea? Just a noudle/rice salad (15min). Or different self made burger/sandwiches (salad/tuner/meat/chease/tomatos – vary! takes 2-3min to “cook” and are a lunch worth)

    Oh, and doing an own sauce isn’t difficult, too. The spicys are the most difficult part, but you’ll learn it quick. Self made sauce: 5min. If you put frozen vegetables in, the whole meal takes 15min (cause of noudles/rice) where you just need to spend 3-5min directly in action.

    I have my shelf and freezer filled up with quick meal parts. Everytime I don’t have a clue what to cook (happens once in a while) I just take a quick look and have an idea in less then 60sec. If you will be in idea problesm: a cooking plan for the whole week (takes 5-10min at the weekend) is helpfull. Also recipe pages help (really much if they can show random recipes) – and you get quick the clue what you can differ. Bento pages/blogs really inspire me and help me to get the idea – and at the beginning the helped also how much time it takes to cook a meal.

    Really, aren’t max 15min/day not the time worth to cook a healthy, tasty and cheap meal?

  6. Torie Michelle Says:

    I spend about $50/month on food.

    Getting the huge box of Minute Rice is absolutely necessary. Lots of pastas and a variety of sauces. I also buy a lot of canned goods–basically soups. I agree, Banquet meals are all right, too. I get Lunchables and Deli Creations to supplement as snacks. Pre-made salads…. Easy things that don’t require serious cooking because I (none of us, really) don’t have time.

    I wish I could do PB&J, but that’s just not ever gonna happen and I can’t sacrifice my health by constantly eating Ramen…lol

  7. Martin - TheUniversityBlog Says:

    Rice, sauces and fresh veg. I knew someone living on just that. Around $35-40 a month (depending on what veg she bought). Hero.

    While I spent about $130-140 a month, I only ever bought stuff on special offer (buy-one-get-one-free, etc.), so I’d get double the goodies! I called it ‘luxury food on a budget’.

    The best food is free, however. It’s amazing how much food you’re offered if you hang with friends when they’re making their dinners…

  8. Michael Strickland Says:

    Whole Foods is a godsend. My sister and I both by the section where you can bag your own snacks. Some of that dried fruit is really cheep, and quite filling!

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