As someone who is poor and in college, you would think that the term “starving college student” would apply to me. However, I’ve developed what I think is the ultimate hacks to eating healthy and well in college. If you’re both a college student and a foodie, stay tuned for my deepest secrets on how to make your pennies stretch miles in the food department.
Know what you’re buying
By this I mean, actually take the time to calculate the price per pound, ounce, ect. of whatever you’re buying. Yes, it can be a little tedious at times, but it’s so worth it. A lot of times, there is a misconception that if you buy the biggest, bulkiest version of the product, you will automatically save money because the price per product amount will be cheaper. In my experience, this is often wrong, so it’s worth whipping out your calculator app to double check. Also along these lines is being reasonable about the amount of product that you are buying. That means if you think it’s too much, you probably won’t use all of it before it goes bad. You might save 30 cents per ounce, but you will end up wasting 5 dollars of product.
Also, buy items that can be used for multiple meals throughout the week! You can do this by theming your weeks, like having an Italian food week, where you make dishes that all originate in Italy. Often, when you do this, you can buy a larger quantity of a fewer amount of food and save money. For example, tomato pasta, pizza, and tomato bisque all use tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, and Italian seasoning, so you can buy a larger quantity of these items and save a few bucks.
Know how to preserve your food
Not everything lasts for a long time in the refrigerator. Nothing is more disappointing than going to make a salad and finding the spinach you bought a few days ago mushy and wilted. A lot of times, the perishability of fruit and vegetables can turn college students away from incorporating them into their diet.
I’m here to tell you that that can change! I’ve done a good bit of research on how to preserve perishable food for longer periods of time and I have never saved more money! You can refrigerate bread and it will last twice as long without a change in the flavor or texture (you can also freeze it for months, but I don’t make any promises on the texture at that point). You can put a dry paper towel in the top of your leafy greens container (spinach, iceberg lettuce, spring mix, ect.) and it will last for at least a week (a lot longer in my experience!). You can fully submerge some things, like avocadoes, and they will last weeks as well. You can also freeze soup and reheat it if you make large amounts, or you can always freeze fruits and make a smoothie later!
There are a lot of hacks that can help you save money on buying food in college. You don’t have to wait to be a graduate to start refining your favorite recipes. For me, cooking has always been a way for me to relax and connect with people. Both of these things are super important in college! I hope that these tips help encourage you to cook and save money on food!