Living off campus taught me eating healthy on a tight student budget and schedule is tricky. It can be done, but when supermarkets and fast food chains offer convenient unhealthy comfort food on the cheap it’s hard to avoid ingesting the junk.
It’s still worth the effort to eat right more often to improve fitness and your state of mind. And, there are ways it can be done without digging deep into your purse, wallet or free time.
Frozen fruits and vegetables cost less than the fresh stuff and are just as nutritious. They’re also easier to work into meals because they’re often already sliced, diced or chopped. Best of all, unlike fresh vegetables and fruits you don’t have to worry about them spoiling in a week. Use what you need and leave the rest in the freezer!
Inside Tip: Since frozen fruits and veggies can get soggy when thawed, use them in blended smoothies or hot soups and stews where their soft texture won’t be so noticeable .
Buy Fresh on the Cheap
An easy way to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables is to check out the reduced-price racks at your grocery store. The items on the reduce-rack are priced at a significant discount.
The fruits and veggies on the rack may not look perfect but they are still good to eat, healthy, and in some cases even tastier because they’ve fully ripened. Look for grapes (freeze for a snack or use in a fruit salad), bell peppers (for stir-fries) and ripened bananas (for smoothies and sandwiches)!
Inside Tip: When I worked at a grocery store we’d often discount items further if a customer asked us to. Just don’t ask every time you visit the store.
use your Leftovers
When I lived off campus the fridge in our house was filled with beer and leftovers. We always knew how much beer we had on hand but we typically lost track of the leftovers. Then one day our fridge broke down. The only survivors were the bottles of homebrewed beer. All those ready-to-be-eaten leftovers spoiled and had to be tossed in the trash. What a bummer.
Inside Tip: Imagine the money and time you could save by making good use of your leftover cooked pasta and taco meat before it spoils.
Eat Less Meat
Meat is one of the priciest food items you’ll find in a supermarket. The production of it is also damaging to the environment. It requires huge amounts of land and resources to both raise and feed livestock. And, let’s not forget the harmful gases being emitted from the millions of burping and farting cows every day.
Inside Tip: I was a vegetarian for one year while I was a student. I’m not ready to go that route again – just yet. But I do cycle more meatless meals through my weekly meal plan each week. I notice a smaller food bill and feel a greater sense of eating healthy and doing my part for the environment.
cook with confidence
How does saving $270 on your weekly food budget sound? That’s what you can potentially save by going restaurant-less for a week. With the right ingredients and recipes cooking your own meals doesn’t have to be a chore.
Want a good starting point?
15-Minute Money Saving Meals for Students offers fifteen inexpensive and easy ways to let your cooking abilities shine – without burning down the place.
Have a tip (or two) on ways to eat healthy on a budget while at college? Please share in the comments!