Moving out into off-campus housing in Athens, Ohio and starting college life makes you realize just how expensive food is. You might even start caring about the price of eggs at the grocery store, which you never thought twice about before. To help you save some cash without eating ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, here are 10 college student budget hacks.
1. Create a Realistic Budget
The first step to cutting down your food expenses is to create a realistic budget. We know—budgeting is hard, especially if you’re relying on savings and not a monthly income for those first couple months of school. But it’s worth it for that extra bit of security!
2. Utilize Smart Shopping Strategies
It’s easy to go to the same store your parents did and shop with your stomach. However, this is one of the easiest ways to blow your college student budget. Consider these tips instead:
- Compare prices instead of quality
- Take advantage of coupons
- Ask that friend with a Costco membership if you can tag along
- Make a grocery list and stick to it
3. Meal Plan Like a Pro
That’s right—meal planning isn’t just a trend, it’s a smart way to save! Start by creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list. Not only will this keep you from buying impulsively, but you can add up costs beforehand to stay within budget.
4. Use Budget-Friendly Campus Dining Options
Believe it or not, your campus dining options can offer some of the most budget-friendly meals. No, we’re not telling you to buy Chick-fil-A for lunch every day—your college will most likely offer low-cost sandwiches, salads, and snacks.
5. Raid Your Parent’s Pantry
Before you leave for college, ask your parents if you can go through their pantry and take any non-perishable items they won’t miss. This can save you a lot of money in the long run, especially on those basics like spices, condiments, and baking ingredients.
6. Join Forces with Friends
If you live with roommates, consider doing a weekly or monthly potluck dinner. You can each take turns cooking and split the cost of groceries, making for some college student budget-friendly meals while also having a fun night in with your friends.
7. Cook Fast Meals at Home
Try cooking fast meals at home using cheap ingredients like rice, beans, and frozen vegetables. These meals don’t have to be boring—there are plenty of recipes available online for budget-friendly yet delicious dishes.
8. Take Advantage of Leftovers
It makes sense to only make half of a recipe since you’re the only one eating, right? Actually, one of the best ways to stick to your college student budget is to cook in bulk and eat leftovers throughout the week.
9. Put a Crockpot on Your Christmas Wishlist
A crockpot may seem like an odd request for Christmas or your birthday, but trust us, it’s worth it. You can throw almost any combination of ingredients into a crockpot during the day and dinner will be ready and waiting when you come home.
10. Cut Back on Eating Out
We know it’s hard to say no when friends invite you out to eat, but the expenses can quickly add up. Instead, try to limit yourself to one night out per week (or month!) and make it a special occasion with friends or family.
By staying smart with your college student budget and using these tips, you can save money while still enjoying delicious meals and making the most out of your college experience.
Find an Apartment With a Kitchen Through Wharton Rentals
Don’t have an apartment with a kitchen yet? Consider looking into off-campus housing in Athens, Ohio through Wharton Rentals. We have a variety of apartments to help you cook meals and save money. Plus, with our affordable rent prices, it’ll be easy to stick to your college student budget! Visit our website today to learn more.