10 Budget Tips for Hungry College Students

College students get a bad reputation for being hungry at all hours and for being insatiable pits for fast food, sweets and carb-laden booze. And while it may be true for some students, it doesn’t have to be true for you. Besides sabotaging your figure, stuffing yourself with midnight pizzas and milkshakes every time you spot a drive-thru also hurts your budget. To help your diet and save a little money, try out these 10 tips for saving money on food as you head back to school:

  1. Use your meal plan. If your parents bought you a meal plan, use it. If you don’t, and just eat out every night, you’re wasting money that your family most likely won’t ever see again.
  2. Cook for yourself. Most dorms and campuses have a community kitchen that you can use, so get your friends together once a week and cook a sensible meal for yourselves. To save on cost, use whatever ingredients you can get at the student cafeteria – like raw vegetables or rolls – and supplement your trip to the grocery store.
  3. Load your refrigerator and freezer ahead of time. Before you go out drinking and come home with serious munchies, stock your refrigerator with frozen appetizers, pretzels and popcorn instead of ordering an expensive pizza.
  4. Pick rice over pasta. Both rice and pasta are cheap and last a while, but rice is actually more filling and healthier.
  5. Order appetizers. When you go out to eat with friends, save on big bills and calories by ordering an appetizer instead of big entrees.
  6. Keep a food journal. Write down what you eat and also how much you spent on it. You might be so shocked at how much you spend on food that you’ll find it easy to cut back.
  7. Start with a side salad. Even if you get a slice of pizza or a hamburger from your student cafeteria, start your meal with a side salad. You’ll get your veggies and will feel more satisfied after your whole meal, making a second helping less appealing.
  8. Stay on campus. The more you stay on campus to study, socialize and work, the less tempted you’ll be to make a trip to the drive-thru.
  9. Take advantage of mixers and events with free foods. Even if you don’t feel like going to a study break or initiation ceremony, think of all the free food you’ll get.
  10. Make your own smoothies. Get a blender and use ingredients from your school cafeteria to make your own snacks and drinks.

This post was contributed by Rose Jensen.

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