Eating out every night is something that most college students seem to prefer. It offers a nice break from the pressures from school, requires no work to get an amazing meal, and is a great social experience. However, it can be quite costly and over time it can really do damage to your credit cards. There are alternatives that will allow you to eat better while also saving some money. We understand how expensive higher education can be, your meals is somewhere you can save a little. Here are some ways to limit your expenses without starving yourself.
College Meal Plans
If you live in a dorm you this may be a requirement. If you are currently on a meal plan make sure that you get the absolute most out of it.There are usually some options on the type of plan to choose depending on how many meals you anticipate eating. Give this some thought. If you are not a breakfast eater or you only need two meals a day then don’t go for the largest option.
Don’t skip any meals if you can avoid it. If you are on a plan that gives you two meals a day you can also try and sneak some food out to snack on later. It is probably against the rules, but taking a plastic ziplock bag with you can be a doable option. Make sure to read the rules however as you don’t want to put your meal plan in any sort of jeopardy.
Learn How To Cook
This is the perfect opportunity to sharpen your cooking skills. We all have to start somewhere, and being out on our own for the first time is a terrific place to start. This is the time when most young adults learn to fend for themselves and go grocery shopping. Making homemade meals is almost always going to be less expensive than eating out, plus you get to choose the ingredients that you like.
If you do not live somewhere with a full kitchen then getting a toaster oven is a must. If you think these are just for toast then you are missing out on this small kitchen appliance. With a countertop oven you will be able to cook amazing meals for one or two people. Roasted chicken, barbecue ribs, casseroles, baked pasta, and of course the college staple of pizza. Go through some recent toaster oven reviews to see which countertop oven makes the most sense for your budget. They are a sound investment with a long list of advantages for students looking for an easy way to get home cooking.
If you have a stove top then it is time to also get some pots and pans. You can usually find these pretty cheap at Walmart. Now it is time to find your appreciation for pasta. This is one of the simplest meals to make. A jar of ready made pasta sauce and a box of pasta will probably set you back around $4 and you should be able to squeeze two or three meals out of this. You may think that you will get bored of this but there are plenty of different sauces and pasta recipes to choose from to keep things interesting for awhile. When I was in college we used to live on Ramen noodles, but that was until I discovered a pasta sauce that I truly loved. To this day this is one of my go to meals when I want something easy and cheap to make.
Finding recipes is also a lot easier these days as Youtube is full of guides that will teach you how to make some nutritious and cheap meals. Don’t overlook this as a resource. Find something you are interested in trying and make a shopping list from the ingredients. Do this for a few recipes so that you can get all of the items you will need from the store in one trip.
Drink Water And Snack More
In between meals there is nothing as healthy as drinking some water and snacking on non-junk food. This will not only give you energy but it will also fill you up and take the edge off of your hunger. Granola bars, salad, fruits and vegetables are your best options as far as nutrition, but they do sound a little boring. Avoid the temptation of salty and sugary foods.
Drinking water is just as important. Staying hydrated will not only help your mind stay focused but it is a great way to curb your appetite. There is almost nothing better for you than water and it should not be hard to find a water fountain on campus. Fill up some spare water bottles and take them back to the dorm. Easy and cheap alternative to soda and other sugary drinks.
Keep an eye out of the bulletin boards on campus. There are a number of student functions throughout the year that provide some sort of free meal. Always take advantage of a free dinner, barbecue or breakfast when you can.
It is real easy to give in to the temptation of hopping into your favorite local grill and splurging on a meal that you do not have to make for yourself. Making a monthly budget and sticking to it is going to be its own reward. Putting in the extra effort to cook for yourself and get free meals when you can will pay off in the long run. Stick to your guns and remember that you can still eat well with some forward planning and a little extra effort. Just remember to eat healthy.