How to eat on a student budget

During my four years at university, I discovered one of the hardest things about being a student – finding and eating good food while surviving on a minimal budget.

It’s undeniable that it is getting increasingly more difficult for students to find a job in this tough economic environment and to make things worse, the cost of living isn’t falling either. So, the only option for me during my student days was to budget my spending and to eat smart. There are a lot of students who have moved out of home and have a constant debit against their bank balance – so what’s the solution to our never ending money wars? Here are my top suggestions to eating well and affordably on a student budget.

Learn to cook

Buying groceries from your local supermarket and cooking yourself will almost always be cheaper than eating at a restaurant. You avoid the restaurant’s overhead costs of labour, rent and profit margins while having the satisfaction of eating something tangible which you created yourself. There are also a lot of free recipes online which are easy to make as well. Some tried and tested simple dishes include pasta, sandwiches, stir fries and anything that can be baked in an oven.

Lunch specials

You’ll be surprised by how many restaurants offer lunch specials…almost every single one. You can often purchase a set meal or combination for a good price that is below the average paid for separate a la carte items. Some popular lunch specials near my university included $5.50 Japanese, $6 Pad Thai and various food court restaurants which offered a free drink for students. Search high and low, they’re out there!

Coupons and Deals

What’s better than a delicious meal? A buy-one-get-one-free meal or one which is half price! There has been a massive surge of coupon and deal sites recently which offer amazing discounts off individual and group meals from a range of fast food chains to high end restaurants. Sign up to a couple and watch the discounts start flooding into your inbox. It’s a great way to save money and if you can get a group of friends together, a fun social outing as well.

Find the free food

I swear on a weekly basis at university there always seemed to be an abundance of free food. This included various morning teas and BBQs hosted by student societies, marketing sampling by food companies or events such as a careers fair which had company branded food. My university even offered free breakfast to all students before 8am to encourage them to eat breakfast! If you can time your visits right in-between classes, you’ll be sure to avoid hunger at all snack times of the day.

Do you know of others? What are your top tips for eating on a student budget?

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