Cheap Meal Guide

I hate shopping for food. I’d much rather go get food prepared for me, with no mess or clean up, but unfortunately my status as a college student forbids me from frequently repeating this type of lifestyle. So I have to shop.

Usually I walk in the grocery store doing everything you are not supposed to do, which includes being hungry, buying snack foods that I don’t need, and not visiting the produce aisle as much as I should. Don’t do those things.

Having a plan and knowing what you need to shop for is most important, and as simple as it sounds, that is the best way to save money. But all of that won’t do any good if you are shopping at the wrong place. As delicious as the food is at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, most of the time they won’t work consistently on a college budget. Fortunately for the average college student, one can make financial headway at other places.

Fred Meyer/Safeway, etc.
The classic grocery stores that every college student should be making use of. Knowing what to buy at places like these is important, especially if you are someone who has the ability to shop at stores that sell in bulk.

Make sure you have the discount card for each grocery store, and take advantage of the deals that are being offered. Both Fred Meyer and Safeway have apps and coupons that offer deals on food that you are most likely going to buy anyway, so why not take advantage of it?
In the end, Freddie’s and Safeway are the places that students should do most of their shopping. They are relatively cheap and convenient.

Buying in bulk
Costco and Winco are two places in which buying in bulk is possible. At Winco, a membership is not necessary, which makes it a lot better for a college student. Buying in bulk can save people a lot of money, one just has to make sure that the food bought in bulk doesn’t go to waste, especially if you live on your own.

Top Ramen is great to buy in bulk—if you partake in the famous college food. Any non-perishables work well when shopping at Costco or Winco.

Happy Hour
Cheap food and cheap drinks; if you are going to go out it might as well be at the cheapest time of day. It’s really hard to avoid going out sometimes, and it’s wrong to completely avoid going out, college is supposed to be social after all. Happy hour is the perfect mix of both these worlds. Everyone seems to know of a really good happy hour somewhere, so take advantage of them when there is room in your budget to go out.

The college diet includes a lot of Top Ramen, but it doesn’t have to only be noodles. Include some diversity in your diet by preparing a list and budget beforehand, and don’t be afraid to shop at different places that offer advantages.