If you want to save money in school, stick to your meal plan at the cafeteria for most of your meals and when you buy something to cook in your room or go out to eat, be selective. You can find good meals and food without breaking the bank. You just have to do the research in advance.
Restaurants, delis and food chains like Ruby Tuesday, Subway and Hardees still carry some healthy foods and you can eat without taking out a loan. But remember that it is always cheaper to buy the food and cook it. A $15 steak will probably only cost you $7.00 to buy and cook at home. A chicken dish might cost you $10.00 at a reasonable restaurant, but it will only cost you about $5.00 to make at home.
Some time in your college career, you will have to decide how to spend your precious funds. The more you stick to your college meal plan for your primary source of balanced meals, the more you are likely to be able to splurge a little when you DO go out. You can’t go off campus or go to the store and buy food every day and expect to have any money left at the end of a semester. If you are buying food to cook in your room, buy things like pasta that is cheaper than meat, and fresh vegetables which are healthy and less expensive than prepared or packaged foods. Rice is cheap. Cheese is good for protein and can replace meat in your diet on occasion. Using spices will help you add taste without buying those meals that someone else cooked and that cost 5 to 10 times more than what you can make yourself.
Get yourself some vitamins to fill in the blanks in your diet so that if you are not eating well on the run, you can expect to stay healthy. If you didn’t buy the full meal plan but you want something for breakfast, get some healthy cereal that you can eat like trail mix. It is cheaper than a breakfast bar and will last longer.
Soup mixes are also a good way to save money. They are cheaper than canned soup or Raman noodles and just as hearty. All you have to do is mix them with water and they are easier to store and take up less space. Buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter (great source of protein and not expensive) and eat lunch on the go.
In summary, you can cut corners and save money on food every day on campus and save those hard-earned dollars for a special occasion when you want to go out and celebrate.