For most college students, money is scarce. It may feel like no matter what, you just can’t seem to save any extra cash. Between regular expenses, plans with friends, and preparing for student loan relief, your piggy bank is pretty empty. I think it’s safe to say that a large chunk of college student’s cash also goes towards food. Saving on food in college is one way to improve your cash flow and set aside some money for the future.
Tuesday Tip – Saving on Food in College
In college, it feels like nearly everything revolves around food. Getting takeout, eating at the dining hall, and feeling like you basically live at the grocery store. For many, college is the first time where they are responsible for budgeting their own expenses. And, it is probably a first in terms of feeding yourself on a regular basis. No moms in college, right?
Figuring out meals can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to cooking. Eating takeout for every meal may be tempting, but don’t be fooled; a fast food diet isn’t a realistic budget option. Rather than throw your money and health down the drain, try these tips for saving on food in college.
- Meal Prep: If you cook and portion all of your meals at the beginning of the week, you save time and money. This way, your meals are ready to go each day. And, you aren’t being forced to buy lunch because you have nothing in the fridge. Another benefit of weekly meal preps is that you limit wasting food that you buy but never eat!
- Make a List: Impulse buys kill any budget. With out proper planning, you risk spending entirely too much time and money at the grocery store. Either you go overboard and end up wasting half of the food in your fridge, or you completely under-shoot how much you really do eat in a week. Try using a financial planning worksheet to help establish how much you can afford to spend on food.
- Limit Takeout: Take-out food is a staple in college. The trick to saving on food and enjoying your college years is finding a balance. It’s unrealistic to assume you will never grab a pizza with your friends, but it’s also unrealistic to order food 5 times a week. The best way to save is to plan for these instances. Tell yourself from the start that you’re only eating out once a week, and stick to it.
- Pay in Cash: This tip sometimes comes down to personal preference, and that’s okay. Just keep in mind that a cash budget allows you to really see how much you spend as you physically watch your money dwindle. Whereas when you pay with a credit card, you can turn a blind eye to your accumulated balance until it’s time to pay off credit cards.