Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Stomach (And Your Wallet) Full

It’s a long running joke that college students can sustain themselves solely on Ramen Noodles. While at only $2.22 for a box of 12, this meal is easy on the wallet. However, there are other ways to eat on a budget, and other cheap meals that won’t drain your bank account.

One way to eat well and still be frugal is to make regular trips to the grocery store. Making your own meals is almost always less expensive that eating out. But a trip to the grocery store unprepared can quickly become quite costly. To avoid overspending when shopping, go into the market with a plan. Make a list of specific items ahead of time, and only buy what is on the list.

Try to keep a running tally of the costs as you shop, either in your head or on a calculator. Another important key to food shopping on a budget is coupons. Save and actually use coupons. There may be a stigma perpetuated by television shows like TLC’s Extreme Couponing that people who use coupons are annoying inconveniences, but coupons can really stretch money.

Even if it is more convenient to eat out, there are tricks  to save money and eat cheaply when visiting restaurants. Many restaurants have daily specials which offer certain foods at lower cost. The Princess Restaurant on Main Street has a menu of rotating specials and at Lorenzo’s Bakery on Broadway you can sometimes get a bag of day-old donuts for a fraction of the price. At some restaurants, combination meals can provide a cheap entree, side dish, and drink. Speaking of drinks, ordering water when eating out can help to save a few dollars on the bill.

Students also like to bring their own water bottles to lunch to help cut down food costs. When asked about their favorite cheap meals, many students said some sort of pasta was their staple. Pastas, such as spaghetti or macaroni are cheap and relatively easy to make. Students said they liked to make more than one serving of pasta and reheat the leftovers to get even more bang for their buck.

Actually, most of students top cheap meal choices involved foods in which buying one unit provides for more than one serving. For example, many students cited sandwiches as easy money saving meals. This is because one loaf of bread costs around three dollars and can be used to make about eight sandwiches.

Another favorite frugal meal was stir fry. Rice is very cheap and easy to make and rice dishes can be prepared in a variety of different ways. Without variety, students might tire of the same food again and again. Eating cheap does not have to mean eating dully.

Eating on a budget can be delicious and easy when creativity is sparked. Eating in can stretch any college wallet. Also, be sure to go the market regularly and buy food can that yield multiple servings. College is expensive, but really, Ramen Noodles does not have to be an every night occurrence.

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