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As a college student, your busy schedule can make it difficult to make food at home or go to the dining hall. That means it isn’t uncommon to be grabbing food that’s near campus or your classes, but eating out all the time can really add up. So I compiled some of my favorite eats on and around campus that all add up to about $5 or less:

Tropical Smoothie

1600 N Broad St Unit 4, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Most items at Tropical Smoothie are not $5 and under, but during their happy hour, it’s a different story. Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, their smoothies are half-priced, and all come out to around $3 (they range from $2.99-$3.49). While you may not usually consider a smoothie a meal, these 24oz smoothies all tend to be pretty filling.

Owl Breakfast & Lunch

1424 Cecil B. Moore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

This spot has been a personal favorite of mine since I was in high school visiting my friends at Temple. It’s a great place to sit down grab breakfast or lunch with your friends, or bring your parents there when they’re here. There are a ton of options at $5 or under (the whole menu is under $10), I personally recommend their grilled cheese ($3.25) or three pancakes or french toast ($4.50). The only thing to keep in mind is that because Owl Breakfast & Lunch only serves breakfast and lunch, they close between 2-3 p.m. every day. 

Maxi’s Pizza, Subs, and Bar

1926 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Maxi’s is definitely a Temple classic I had to add to the list. Their slices are well priced at $2.25 per cheese slice and their gourmet specialty slices being $3.25 a slice. This makes it a great choice if you want two cheese slices for less than $5 or a cheese slice and gourmet slice for just over $5 (totally worth it if you get a white slice or any of their slices with pasta on them). Great for those late-night pizza craving, as they stay open until 2:30 a.m. every night.

Maple Star

1521 Cecil B. Moore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

This is a great place to get a lot of food for not a lot of cash. Similar to Owl Breakfast, about half of the menu is $5 and under — specifically most of their appetizers, vegetable dishes, soups and fried rice dishes. However, I recommend their vegetable lo mein for $4.55/pint (the chicken lo mein and roast pork lo mein are also under $5 at $4.75 each). Additionally, Maple Star is opened past midnight every night, making it a perfect place for late-night dining. 

Bagel Hut

1360 W Montgomery Ave #1348, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Bagel Hut is another classic Temple food stop — and for good reason. As a very picky New Yorker, I can say their bagels are some of the closest to New York bagels —  and boy — it warms my heart. Any of their bagels with plain cream cheese comes out to $2.50 and if you want iced coffee that brings the total to about $5.50 (just above that $5, but totally worth it). I highly recommend not going in between classes in the morning as that’s when they tend to be the busiest, but nonetheless, they’re always courteous and efficient.

Thankfully, Temple and the surrounding area has a ton of cheap options that can fit whatever you might be craving. Benefiting from Temple’s inner-city location and varied food options is key to making your dollar stretch when searching for a meal, so keep in mind that although the list above is full of great meal opportunities, keeping your eyes out for undiscovered or new upcoming deals is a great way to keep your rotation of eateries fresh.

A sophomore media production major with a love for tea and thrift stores.
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