Hooray! You just graduated, moved into your own apartment, and are finally free from your parent’s grasp. Here comes the Trix cereal, cheeseburgers, ice cream — you name it. But wait, what’s this? Your new student budget means a grocery balance of $25…not ideal for all the delicious meals and snacks you planned.
I’ve been there before. I was beyond ecstatic my freshman year of college when I finally realized that I didn’t have to eat what my parents bought and could gorge on Coco Puffs. I realized very quickly, however, that food costs money. Whether you’re a freshman with newfound freedom, or a senior that has painfully realized debt can enslave you, here is a budget-friendly solution that will ensure you don’t get stuck slurping on Ramen.
Cut out expensive vices
If you physically cannot function without caffeine to be classified as a normal human being, you need to accept an intervention. Whether it be soda, espresso, pre-workout, etc., all surmount to big bucks on that small, weekly budget. Same goes for sugar. In general, your waistline will thank you, too.
Look in your pantry
You never know what you have until you clean out your pantry. FACT: Chances are you bought a box of rice six months back, and the shelf life of white rice is forever! See this article for a complete list of 9 foods that last forever. Once you see what you already have, the next step is to get creative.
Your student budget will thank you by using what your kitchen contains. Follow this link to Supercook.com, a recipe database that allows you to search for a recipe by ingredients. Even if it seems weird, it will still taste good. Why? Because you made it! Here is a list from Reader’s Digest of odd but surprisingly good food combinations. A few of my favorites are rice with ketchup, peanut butter and pickle sandwich, and quinoa (although a little pricier, this will keep you fuller longer) with pasta sauce.
Make a grocery list that includes generic products
On a student budget, it’s quite common to go into the grocery store and come out with an empty wallet. On your next visit, buy only what’s needed to complete your weekly recipes and don’t be suckered into the fallacy that a brand name tastes better. Check out the ingredients label to compare and be amazed by the similarities.
Learn to cook
According to Time, a supper for a family of four at McDonald’s costs anywhere from $23-$28 whereas a full roasted chicken dinner with veggies, salad, and milk costs around $14. Meals including cheaper staples like pasta or rice will bring the price down even further. While you may not have a family of four, you do have seven days in the week, four of which could be spent eating your delicious home-cooked delight.
Ramen isn’t the end of the world, but it can get pretty old after seven straight days. Follow these five steps to get the most out of your student budget and still keep your tastebuds happy! They don’t say kiss the cook for nothing!