Whatcha got cookin’?

So you’re a college student and you’ve got to eat cheap, right? Here are some ideas to help you eat on a tight budget but still eat as healthy as possible.

Think Ahead

Make a list every week. What foods and other ingredients do you need for the meals you want to make?

Set a budget and stick to it faithfully. Check store flyers to see what’s on sale. Comparison-shopping is the way to go.

Schedule shopping and cooking time into your school week.

Clip Coupons

Clip coupons out of newspapers and use them to help keep costs low. When an item is on sale and you have a coupon for it, that’s an even sweeter deal!

Keep a Running Tally

Keep a running tally in the grocery store as you place items in your cart so you know exactly how much you’re spending. If you are not that good at doing math in your head, then bring a calculator along.

Pay with Cash

Debit and credit cards are convenient, but unfortunately, too many people tend to buy on impulse and/or spend beyond their limit. Don’t fall into that trap. Be smart!

Prepared Meals

Avoid purchasing prepared meals or those “just add meat or fish” kits. They are generally far too pricey for what you get, which is usually a small portion of rice or noodles and a bit of seasoning. They are not usually the most nutritious options for meals either. Instead, try experimenting at home with your own unique recipes and consider replicating your favorite mixes in your own kitchen.

Fruits and Vegetables

Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables. When in season, they are reasonably priced. And the more vivid the color, the more nutrient rich produce tends to be. When fresh fruits and vegetables are too costly for your budget, consider frozen vegetables and fruits.

Canned Foods

Canned foods are the very cheapest but also the least healthy and the less appealing to the taste buds.

Frozen Vegetables & Berries

Another selling point about frozen vegetables and berries is that they are excellent bets for students on a tight budget. Just take out what you need and freeze the rest.

Second-Hand Shops

Second-hand shops are a great place to look for kitchen gear, such as used casserole dishes, neat vintage bowls, drinking glasses, pots, pans and utensils. Plus, these stores often carry items that are out of the ordinary and definite conversation pieces. Some of my favorite kitchen wear came from used stores, flea markets or yard sales.


Cookbooks are easy to come by for meal ideas if you know where to look. Borrow some from your local library or check out second-hand bookstores.

The InternetDon’t forget about the wealth of information that the Internet provides. Use keywords in search engines, such as “budget recipes,” “frugal cooking” or “economical meal ideas,” to find cheap recipes.