If you’re in college and you don’t get excited about free food opportunities on campus, then you’re probably living quite the life. However, the majority of students I know control the number of times they eat out because the bills build up over time. But how do you eat well without eating the same old, same old food served at the cafeteria? First start by doing some grocery shopping. But shop smart.
A typical meal around campus costs on average about $9. If you are going to a place where you have to sit down and tip, around $15+. I didn’t realize how much I was spending by going out so often until I checked my bank statement and wish I had not checked it. I often found myself spending $9 by myself, just because I felt like eating some good food. It turns out that I can convert $9 into multiple meals and on much healthier items by doing some grocery shopping. Although I thought about how much of a hassle the trip to the grocery store would be, it really wasn’t. The time I spent going to the grocery store was probably the amount of time I would’be laid on my bed and stared at my phone. Why not doing something much more productive and fun? The closest grocery store to campus is Central Market, which is a bit pricier then your average grocery store, like Kroger. But as long as you look at the right items and compare prices, all is good. I spent a generous amount of time in the store and bought the following items:
- 4 small Hass avocados- $1.96; idea: avocado toast, put in tortilla wrap, eat with hummus or salad dressing (go for a low fat one!)
- 1/3 lb. Raw Royal Mix (nut blend of raw cashew, pistachios, almonds, and golden raisins)- $3.25; idea: eat as snack, topping for oatmeal, yogurt, or salad
- Organic long grain brown rice (32 oz.)- $2.99; idea: this is not microwaveable rice, however I cooked it in the microwave and it worked!! The con is it took 30 min., but I popped it in the microwave, did my homework and had some delicious rice 30 min. later! Eat with frozen veggies, pickled Chinese vegetables, and meats from school cafe.
- Frontera chipotle pumpkin salsa (16 oz.) ON SALE -$0.91; idea: spread in tortilla wrap, put on avocado toast, mix with frozen veggies (usually bland), eat with cheese and crackers, use as a low-fat salad dressing
- 1 lb. mini carrots- $0.98; idea: eat with hummus, dressing, or peanut butter (is PB just for celery??)
- frozen Green beans French cut (16 0z.)- $1.38; idea: eat with rice, throw on top of leftover pizza, place in any noodle/pasta dish
- frozen broccoli cuts (16 oz.) – $0.98; idea: eat with rice, throw on top of leftover pizza, place in any noodle/pasta dish
- Regular flour tortilla (20 ct.)- $2.39; spread with peanut butter and honey, make avocado tortilla, microwave with cheese for a “Broke college student” quesadilla, make wraps, cut into tiny pieces as a salad topping
A total of $14.84 could possibly get you two meals from the cheapest eatery around campus, but I purchased these items because they’re nutritious and filling. The possibilities are endless for what you can do with these items! Do your own thing, be funky, be hipster, and eat your carrots with some peanut butter. How long will these items last me? Considering I eat half of my lunches and dinner in the dining halls and half in my dorm, these items could last me for about a week and a half. Of course I won’t eat these items only. I have some deli meat in my fridge and I can grab some free toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions from the dining cafes if I wanted to make a wrap or sandwich. I’m so excited to eat my low budget meals, and hope you will try them too!