Most university students have just enough money to cover their daily expenses. This means, buying yourself a fancy salad may be a once-in-a-blue-moon thing.
But the good news is you don’t have to deprive yourself of great tasting meals even if you’re low on cash. With a few tricks, you can pack tasty, cheap, and even healthy meals for school!
These practical tips will surely save you time and money. So, read on and discover how you can prepare yourself a yummy lunch without splurging too much!
Watch out for deals and sales at your local grocery store
That grocery store near your university could be your new favorite go-to place, especially when they have a sale. Take advantage of the deals, promos, and clearance items nearby grocery stores offer and plan your trip ahead of time.
You’ll be surprised to see how much money you’ll be able to save. AOL’s finance blog reveals that this technique can slash as much as 50 percent of your total cost!
Take advantage of your student discount
It’s not only the sales and deals you have to watch out for but also items that are covered by your student discount. Most grocery stores near universities and colleges offer discounts for students as long as they show an ID.
Take advantage of your student discount to shop for healthy groceries. In many instances, you can get 20 percent off from your purchases.
Explore other grocery stores
There’s probably one grocery store you frequent because you think it sells the cheapest products. But you could be wrong.
You may be surprised to discover that there are other stores that offer items at a much lower price. So, if there are tons of grocery stores around your school campus, try to explore them all.
Before you crown a store as your go-to place, make sure you’ve checked all your other possible options. This is a great way to find out where you can get the most savings.
Use coupons or apps
Look for coupons on your local papers and take advantage of them. Today, manufacturers are promoting healthier food options, giving you bigger savings on items that you want to have more of.
There are also grocery store price comparison apps that you can use, which can help you figure out which stores offer the best price. These apps compare the prices of items being sold in grocery stores near you.
So, if you don’t have time to shop around, and look for yourself which grocery store offers the cheapest price, you can seek the help of these apps.
Shop healthy food items
Another smart technique is to shop “packable” healthy food items like fruits and nutritious snacks. Some of the healthy food items you can include in your grocery shopping list are apples, bananas, jerky, seeds, and nuts.
Also grab hummus, peanut butter, low-salt popcorn, salsa, bread, tomatoes, and yogurt. Try your best to stock up on these practical food items because they can be enjoyed on their own or used to create yummy dishes!
If your dorm or flat has a shared kitchen, make the most of it and search for delicious recipes online that use these ingredients. You’ll not only eat healthier meals but increase your food knowledge, too!
Buy in bulk
Bulk items are considered cheaper because you’re saving money per unit. Over time, this adds up to your savings.
One way to know whether you’ll actually save bucks is to check the price per unit of an item. By doing some basic math, you’ll be able to figure out whether a bulk item is a good buy.
Some of the items worth buying in bulk are dry rice and dry pasta. You can store these items for years, and use them in countless ways to prepare tasty and delicious dishes.
Buying oatmeal in bulk is also a wise decision because it has a long shelf life. Even better, there are tons of savory oatmeal recipes that you can try that’s perfect not just for breakfast but lunch and dinner, too!
Shopping in bulk means fewer trips to the store, too. You’ll increase your savings because you won’t have to spend on gas or transportation fares.
Get a rice cooker
Your rice cooker can do much more than just cook rice. Apparently, it can double as a pot! Yep, you can create yummy and budget-friendly one-pot meals by using a rice cooker.
This kitchen appliance can help you create simple yet tasty dishes like Red Beans and Rice, Mac and Cheese, Rice Cooker Chicken Chili, and Rice Cooker Frittata!
Prepare simple foods
The average cost of a fast food meal plays somewhere between $4 and $7. If you’re a student with budget constraints, this will leave you broke a few months into the school year.
It’s easy to see why students want to learn how to cook their own meals. Prepping your own lunch saves you bucks! Not only that but it allows you to eat healthier meals as well. But where should you begin?
Let’s get this straight: Lunch packing takes time. If you’re juggling studies, extracurricular activities, and a side job, you probably don’t have the time and energy to do lunch packing, too.
Grabbing prepacked salads are convenient, but you’ll spend more. So, to save time, energy, and cash, head to the supermarket over the weekend and grab some veggies!
Chop them up, and store them in airtight containers. Then, place your containers in your fridge for an easy-to-grab base for your salads and meals.
You’re more likely to enjoy four servings of salads with this trick, saving you a good amount of money. Plus, you save time and effort in the morning, too! Want some inspiration? Try this Keto Caesar Salad recipe!
Learn how to cook vegetarian meals
In most countries, vegetables are cheaper than meat products. So, if you want to save bucks, cut down on meat and learn how to cook simple vegetarian dishes.
Aside from veggies, you can also buy other healthier food options like rice, beans, and quinoa.
You can make your own versions of these healthy-yet-tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes like Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pecan Nuts, Curried Chickpea with Spinach Sauté, and Vegan Butter Chickpeas.
Learn how to prepare on-the-go breakfasts
If you’ve got classes scheduled as early as 8 a.m., you should learn how to assemble on-the-go breakfasts. In most cases, the ingredients that you need are readily available in your dining hall.
But it’s wise to buy your own. During hectic mornings, you can fix yourself a simple cream cheese and jelly sandwich, and eat it while walking to your early morning class.
Master some simple recipes
Learning how to cook is something your older self will thank you for. So, when you see simple recipes that fit your diet and budget, make sure to put it down on your to-cook list!
Stock up on snacks
Snacks are a great fall back when you’re too tired to prepare your own meals or don’t feel like eating what’s offered at the dining hall.
You can keep filling snacks in your room so you won’t be tempted to run to the nearest fast food when you feel hungry.
Chip alternatives like kale chips, whole wheat crackers, nuts, and dried fruits make a tasty and healthy munch. The idea is to always keep a snack handy so you can grab something when your stomach rumbles or when you’re in a rush.
Skipping meals may lead to poor food choices later on so it’s wise to stock up on snacks that you like and help settle your hunger.
Buy rotisserie chicken
Rotisserie chicken is super convenient. What’s more, you can make tons of cheap and easy meals with it! Are you craving for pot pies? Chicken Quesadillas? Chicken Fried Rice? Rotisserie chicken will get you covered!
Even better, you’re sure to enjoy a satisfying meal every time. It may not be top-notch gourmet, but it’ll definitely be an appetizing one!
Keep sweet potatoes handy
Sweet potatoes are not only cheap but they’re also more nutritious than potatoes. Plus, they keep you satiated for long!
After washing them thoroughly, pierce them with a fork, and pop your sweet potatoes in the microwave. Then, add some brown sugar or butter and salt to perk them up!
As a college student, you need to be practical and wiser with your decisions. Packing your own meals is a trick you’ll find helpful, especially when you’re trying to save money on food, which usually takes the bulk of our daily expenses.
The secret is to stick with cost-saving strategies you find useful, and come up with new ideas to make your lunches more fun and healthier. It may not be always easy, but it’s totally doable.