It’s just before the beginning of term. You sit down at your desk and start doing some math. Not math homework, no. You start calculating how much money you can spare for food. Tuition? Around $5000, more or less (probably more). Textbooks? The cheapest one would probably be at least $100 and that was if you bought the used-version. You enter in the numbers on your calculator.
You stare. Then you punch the numbers in again, just to make sure the calculator did the math correctly. You wonder how many instant noodles you can buy with the remaining money you have and if you can somehow ration it out until the end of term.
Being a university student isn’t easy on the wallet. Food and especially healthy food isn’t on the top of your priorities list especially when you have exams or an essay that’s worth half of your grade to worry about.
Here are some ways to save money and eat semi-healthy:
Image Source: Money Crashers
Your new best friend. You can always go to a grocery store and see if there are any coupons available in store. Grab as many as you can but don’t use them yet! Wait until there’s a price discount on the product you want before using the coupon. That way, you can save even more money.
Try to section out a time on your schedule to do some coupon cutting, either when you’re studying for the exam the next day or when you’re waiting for your paper to print out.
2. Check the Nutrition Facts!
When you’re deciding between meals, look at the back of the packaging. Compare the two: which one has fewer grams of sodium and sugar? What’s the percentage of Vitamin A, C or calcium? Try to pick the healthier of the options, within your budget.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand what you’re looking for, the long list of nutritional information won’t seem as daunting.
3. Split the Cost
One of the easiest ways to do some smart saving is to divide up your budget with a friend or two. You could buy some food in bulk which is more affordable (in some cases) and not be afraid that you will waste it if you can’t finish it in time. Divide and conquer!
4. Fresh vs. Canned/Frozen/Dried Food
The common misconception is that canned/frozen/dried food have less nutritional value than their fresh counterparts but that’s not always the case. For example, dried fruits are still delicious and sometimes, it’s cheaper than buying the fresh version. Most dried fruits have the same amount of calories and sugar as fresh fruits.
Dried fruits are also easier to buy in that you don’t have to spend too much time picking out the freshest product. You just throw some in the bag, write the code and go the register. Quick and easy!
Always check the nutritional values of canned and frozen food: is there added sugar in canned goods as a way to preserve the product? Are there unnecessary chemicals and too many hard-to-pronounce ingredients in that frozen packet of food? It may take a little extra thinking and planning when you choose other alternatives than fresh food, but you might be able to lessen the strain on your wallet by doing this.
5. Junk Food Cravings
Popcorn is a great health-junk food and provides some nice texture. Fruit is also good for satisfying those sweet tooth cravings. If you want chips, try to buy chips that advertise themselves as ‘baked’ rather than fried, or veggie chips.
Redbook gives ten alternatives to foods that you’re craving. For example, if you want something crunchy like chips, you can always go for pita chips with some hummus.
Just because you’re a college student and will probably be in debt after graduating, doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your health and your stomach. Be smart, not just with your studies, but with your food as well!