Eating on a Budget 101: College Crash Course

by Sean Bryant on June 27, 2012

Just because you are in college doesn’t mean your diet must be restricted to late night pizza, ramen and beer. Yes, a visit to Whole Foods for $8 dollar guacamole can be discouraging when trying to keep your expenses low. Yet, there are inexpensive ways to keep both your wallet and body healthy at the same time.

Below is a crash course on dining healthy and on a budget. Whether it’s on the go to your first class of the day or satisfying a late night snack craving in your dorm room. Think of this as your cheat sheet with all the answers to that daunting chemistry test.

Bulk Up: Buy in bulk. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are a godsend for those on a budget and looking to eat healthy. What to do with 5 pounds of chicken, you might ask? Freeze it. Portion it out and freeze it in portions you can use for meals. There are a multitude of sources online to find inexpensive, healthy recipes for chicken.

Not a Crock: Crockpots aren’t just for Betty Crocker types anymore. Everyone can use them and use them wisely. Plan your meals in advance and dedicate a Sunday evening to chopping up all those fresh veggies and adding ingredients to a freezer safe Ziploc. This is perfect for all of that chicken you may have purchased in bulk (mentioned above) and will ensure your veggies don’t go to waste. Throw the baggie in the crockpot in the morning and by the time you get home, you have a healthy and satisfying meal. Plus, this will avoid that “crap, I have nothing to eat at home, so I might as well get Taco Bell” train of thought.

H20 Is the Way to Go: Sports drinks and soda, who needs them? Not you. All you need is water. This will help you save both those dollar bills and avoid taking in empty calories you can use elsewhere.

Make a List and Stick to It: You know all those notes you take in college? Well, prove your noteworthy savvy by making a grocery list before even stepping into the grocery store. This will avoid those, “ooo this chocolate chip cookie dough would really help me through that last boring chapter of my rhetoric book” or “buttery popcorn is sure to keep me awake for that all-nighter” thoughts. This way, your wallet won’t be in for a surprise when checking out.

Cash Back: Who doesn’t love the term cash back? Use your College Student credit card to purchase groceries and receive a reward at the end. You might as well use your card for these purchases, as many credit card companies offer cash back for groceries, gas and other everyday purchases. Just be sure to pay down your bill each month, you wouldn’t want mom and dad calling you about racking up a bill.

Savings Cards: Do you hate it when you visit a store and they try to get you to sign up for their cards? Next time, pay attention. These cards can save you a lot of money when it comes to your grocery bill. The best part is giving the cashier at the very end and watching the total shrink to nothing. Just like your waist is sure to do after investing in all of that fresh produce.

Coupon Crazy: No, you do not have to be the coupon crazy guys/gals you see on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, but you can take some tips from the pros for your own benefit. Don’t even think about buying 100 snickers bars, but use it to increase your supply of granola bars or a bag of salad.

This article was written by my wife, Samantha Bryant, who is a Denver Public Relations Consultant at Samantha Bryant PR. In her free time she enjoys writing for, snowboarding, biking and playing with her St. Bernard, Charlie.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and his wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his two kids and dog Charlie.

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