College is expensive enough as it is without spending your budget on food. Between tuition, rent, and all those overpriced text books, the last thing you need is to drop half your paycheck at the campus dining hall or local pizza joint every week.
Well you're in luck -- there are plenty of ways for you to snip away at your food costs and still eat well. Whether you've got a meal plan or you're on your own for groceries, use these tips to keep more cash in your pocket for the important things like late-night snacks, coffee runs, and the occasional night out with friends. Eating on the cheap has never tasted so good.
Shop Smart - Purchase Store Brand Items and in Bulk
Let's start with the basics: The first trick to save money on food is simply to know how to shop. Shopping smart is key to saving money on food in college. Stick to store brands instead of name brands - same product, lower price. Buy in bulk when you can and split larger sizes with friends.
Look for the unit price listed on shelf tags to find the best deal. The unit price tells you the cost per ounce, pound, or other unit so you can compare different sizes and brands. Usually the larger size is the better value, but that's not always the case.
Stock Up on Sales
Check store ads for the best weekly specials on whole foods like rice, beans, oats, and nut butters. Buy a few extras when prices drop. Many stores run additional student discounts, so don't forget to ask!
Avoid Buying Convenience Foods
As tempting as ready-made meals and snacks may be, convenience foods cost a lot and aren't good for your health. Go for whole foods you can turn into meals and snacks yourself like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. With a little planning, you can eat better and save a bundle.
Buy When in Season
Produce that's in season is usually cheaper. Buy lots of seasonal fruit and veggies when they're on sale and freeze some for later. You can also get great deals on out-of-season frozen veggies or fruit. Sometimes, supermarkets offer food demos to make sure their produce is fresh. Grocery shopping strategically and avoiding impulse purchases and convenience foods are two of the easiest ways for college students to reduce food costs.
Cook in Bulk and Freeze Leftovers
Cooking in bulk and freezing leftover foods is also one of the best ways to save money on food in college. By making extra portions of home-cooked meals, you'll have leftovers to enjoy for lunches and dinners during the week without spending more.
Cook once, eat twice (or more!)
When you do have time to cook your own food, just double the recipe. Make a huge pot of chili, a double batch of lasagna, or a big skillet of stir fry. Portion out individual servings and freeze anything you won't eat within 4-5 days. Not only will you have home-cooked meals ready to heat, but you've minimized the work by only cooking once. Some foods that freeze particularly well include:
- Soups, stews, puddings, and chilis: They retain texture and flavor when reheated.
- Casseroles and pasta dishes: Just thaw, reheat and enjoy.
- Burritos: Individually wrap and freeze, then reheat as needed.
- Muffins, cookies, cakes, and breads: Thaw at room temperature and enjoy fresh-baked taste.
Save time and money
Cooking in bulk saves you time and money in several ways:
- You only have to plan and grocery shop for meals once or twice a week instead of daily.
- You can take advantage of sales on meats and produce by purchasing larger quantities.
- You'll waste less food since you're preparing appropriate portion sizes for your needs.
- You have home-cooked meals ready to go so you avoid food spending on takeout or dining out.
Check Out The SNAP Program
If cooking in bulk and shopping sales isn't your thing, there are programs in the US that provide grocery money each month for low-income Americans. One program that can help is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides monthly benefits on an EBT card that can be used to purchase groceries at many stores.
Qualifying For The SNAP Program
To apply for SNAP, you’ll need to meet certain income requirements based on the number of people in your house. As a college student, you’ll have to meet additional rules around work requirements and how much assistance you receive. Don’t assume you won’t qualify -- many college students do receive SNAP benefits.
To apply, you have some options: You can apply online on your state’s website, fill out a paper application, or apply in person at a local SNAP office. You’ll need information like your income statements, rent receipts or mortgage statements, utility bills, and student financial aid information. The application process typically takes 1 month or less.
How SNAP Benefits Work
If approved, your SNAP benefits will be deposited monthly onto an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. You can use your EBT card to buy most foods at grocery stores, farmers markets, and some takeout places. SNAP benefits typically range from $150 to $200 per month for a single college student, it's basically free food!
Save Money by Getting a FREE PHONE!
When studying in college, it's easy to neglect essentials like food. Whether you don't have time to cook or you didn't know how to save money on food before, hopefully this blog post could help.
But, we have some exciting news for college students: In the United States, there are many programs like SNAP that offer benefits for lower income individuals. But did you know you can also qualify for connectivity benefits? Thanks to programs like Lifeline & ACP, EASY Wireless is able to offer some incredible benefits, such as:
What Benefits Do You Get With EASY Wireless?
Upon qualifying for one of the programs above with EASY Wireless, you will receive the following benefits:
EASY Wireless Unlimited Plan
- FREE Unlimited Data
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How do I Apply For EASY Wireless Benefits?
To get started with EASY Wireless, apply online by clicking below:
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Or you can come down to one of the EASY Wireless's retail stores, where our customer service agent will help you apply for the benefits.
Either way, the first step is to provide proof of identity with a government-issued ID. This is so you can confirm your participation in one of the qualifying programs or that you meet the household income requirement.
We accept the following U.S. Government Issued ID:
- U.S. Driver License
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Certificate of Naturalization
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Government, State or Tribal issued-ID
- U.S. Military ID cards
- Permanent Resident Cards
- Permanent Resident Alien Cards
You can show the following documents to prove that you are taking part in a government assistance program or use them as proof of active benefits:
- Statement of benefits from a qualifying Program.
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- In order to show income, you can provide any of the following proofs:
- Unemployment Documentation
- Copy of your State or Federal income tax return.
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