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.
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?
Great post! I usually bring my own lunch to work/uni, by making a bit more for dinner the night before. Otherwise you could spend $50/wk on lunch alone!
Since I’ve started work, I’ve been bring sandwiches and leftover dinner. You really do save so much money! Can’t believe I wasted so much $$$ during uni…
Great tips! I think storing your veges etc correctly is really important so that thye don’t go off too quickly, as well as making meals and freezing them to use throughout the uni week such as soups and stews, lasagnes etc.
I’ve never thought of freezing soup before. I’ve always just popped it in the fridge and hoped that I would consume it before it went bad haha
For me it is all about soup & slow cookers. Cheap cuts of meat cooked slowly over a low heat turns it into a feast. And each week I make a massive pot of soup with different vegies & red lentils. We eat it for dinner, I take it to work for lunch & throw left overs into freezer for another meal.
Absolutely agree with the cheap cuts of meat. You can eat the nice meat and use all the bones to make a beautiful soup
$1.20 buys you a steamed bun in chinatown 🙂