Getting your first kitchen in college can feel like learning how to ride a bike – unsure of what to buy, how much time cooking will take, or what are good staples. Especially for those who prefer a clean diet, the stockpiled bags of frozen dinners or easy Mac aren’t appealing. Making great food while on a college budget may not be as daunting as it seems.
Avoid grocery stored designed for only health food, they tend to mark up prices unnecessarily.
For most of us college students, a weekly run to Whole Foods will devastate our bank account and leave our fridge empty. Instead, go to a larger store and find the healthy section or options among the Cocoa Puffs and cheese dip. The health kick of a few has become more of a craze, which has made it much easier to find good options even in chain stores.
Find out some reasonably priced staples you know won’t go to waste.
Whole grains like quinoa or rice can be bought in bulk and last months, or opt for some vegetables that don’t perish quickly, like yams or potatoes. If you like eating a certain meal, you know you can buy the ingredients and things won’t go bad or sit on your shelves for months.
A personal favorite is oatmeal – I stock up on a few bags and know I have an easy and healthy breakfast on hand. You can switch it up by adding different fruits, honey, nuts, or seeds, or making overnight oats when you want a cool treat.
Frozen produce is an essential.
Instead of spending your study time on slicing and preparing vegetables, buy bulk bags of your favorite veggies. Frozen vegetables are just as good for you as fresh ones, and you don’t risk rotting broccoli in your veggie drawer. Some brands have the steam-in-bag option, but for some extra tasty greens try oven roasting them with a spray olive oil or making a stir fry with some rice and tofu!
Frozen fruit is also a great way to save money – toss it in smoothies, oatmeal, or top a bowl of granola with it. You won’t break the bank by buying a small container of raspberries every week and finding fuzz on them after four days.
Buying in bulk will keep your refrigerator full and cut down your time spent roaming grocery store aisles.
While you might cringe at buying a bag of frozen broccoli as big as your torso, you will have it on hand for the next month and will save money by buying it once. With most food, bulk quantities makes the unit price smaller – in the long run you’ll get more food for less money.
Cut down on the amount of times you’re eating out.
Every once in a while it’s nice as a treat, but eating out drains your wallet as fast as you can say poke bowl. Keep it to once a week (or less), and your bank account will thank you. Buying a reusable coffee cup is also a worthwhile investment – you can take it to class and forgo the trip to Starbucks for your almond milk latte.
Stop buying the food you see on your favorite fitness page.
Grocery markets usually have a store brand, and entice you by marking down the prices. If the ingredients are essentially the same, there’s no use in shelling out your cash for pretty packaging. With some items, quality comes at a price. These few items are an investment, and shouldn’t be something that you need to repurchase weekly. Things like superfood powders or your favorite fancy coconut milk creamer can be a treat – but keep it to a minimum.