6 Ways I Learned to Save Money on Groceries in College

ID-10076071The following is a guest post from Kevin Watts. 

My name is Kevin Watts and like millions of people I am in student debt. I have created Graduating From Debt this site in order to help people, as well myself get out of debt, gain financial freedom and ultimately make money work for you.

You have to eat, and you have to eat well to feed your brain so that you can learn. Learning is what you go to college for, and it has been known to happen that some people graduate as pale skeletal forms of their previous selves, but this is unnecessary. The opposite of this is constantly munching, commonly on junk food. Junk food is bad for both your health and your finances. There are ways to eat cheaply and well while in school. Here are some ideas for easy and economic snacks and meals as well as some advice about expensive things to avoid.

1. Make your own food: You might not cook as well as your mom, but your mom probably does not have as tight of a grocery budget as you do now that you are in college. Stay away from the fast food joints, and make use of the internet to find quick, easy, cheap meals to make. You can cook your own steak for the price you pay for a fast food burger. Stay away from packaged snack food too. It usually has a high price tag and offers very little nutritional value. Figure out the difference between hunger and boredom if you really want to slash your snacks bill.

2. Bananas: A banana is a small meal in itself. It is all nicely packaged and easily portable. You do not need to cook it, and you do not even need to refrigerate it. Bananas have lots of potassium. They also have fiber, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C (so that you do not get scurvy like the students who live on K.D.).

3. Peanut Butter: This is one you might want to keep in your dorm. So many people have serious nut allergies these days, but peanut butter is one of the easiest ways to get protein into your diet. As well as protein, one peanut butter and banana sandwich can give you almost all the potassium you need for the day.

4. Eggs: Many students buy small fridges to keep in their dorm rooms. Eggs are definitely one of the top things to keep in one of those fridges. A hard-boiled egg is an instant meal. Boil up a dozen at a time and they are good to go for whenever you need some quick brain food. You can get egg cookers, if you do not want to boil the eggs, or little holders so that you can microwave them. Already hard-boiled eggs are often available at the grocery store as well but are much pricier. One egg has 13 grams of protein; they also contain iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B-12.

5. Canned tuna: Anything canned is ideal. It is easy to store, lasts nearly forever, and you can eat it right out of the can. Stock up when you find it on sale. Canned tuna, or any canned fish, can be spread on crackers, mixed with pasta for a pasta salad, or made into a sandwich. Tuna is packed with vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and magnesium.

6. Crisp bread: Crackers are yummy and easy, but they are not generally super healthy. Crisp bread is a healthier option. Carbohydrates are an important energy source, and bread is a great source of carbs, but it goes bad fairly quickly. Crisp bread is the best of both worlds; it keeps as well as crackers but is a healthier option. It is also a great platform for peanut butter and banana, smashed up hard-boiled eggs, and tuna.

7. Drink water: Staying away from juice and pop will save you so much money! You probably spend enough on coffee and beer already, drinking water the rest of the time will do the best job of hydrating you and will be the friendliest to your budget. Of course, bottled water often costs as much or more than pop and juice; so invest in a re-usable bottle to carry with you, and fill it up whenever you can do so for free.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. To support her fundraising efforts to produce more video for this site, please visit her crowdfunding page!

Latest posts by Tonya (see all)

  • Fit is the New Poor

    I was big on Ramen in college. There are so many things you can do with a pack of Ramen!

    • Kevin

      I have never tried Ramen during college. However, one of my friends said that he used to eat Ramen a lot to save money. If would be great if you share some recipes with us.
      Thanks for your comment.

  • http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/ Cat

    Oatmeal!!! Not the instant kind either – just regular old rolled oats. Just boil the water in a hot pot and pour it over the oats with a dash of salt (1 part oats – 2 parts water), stir, cover, wait 20 minutes, sprinkle with some cinnamon – voila! You can add raisins, nuts, milk, cream or a pad of butter if you’re feeling flush, otherwise it’s just fine plain. My senior year I survived almost entirely on oatmeal.

    • Kevin

      Oatmeal is another good item to add in your list. You can survive long time without anything if you take oatmeal at breakfast. I used to eat oatmeal at breakfast during final weeks.
      Thanks for your comment.

      • Sam

        And it’s great with a teaspoon of peanut butter mixed in! This is my go to breakfast almost every day. I also mix in some chia seeds. This combo keeps me full for half the day. I have to remind myself to eat lunch because I never feel hungry after having this for breakfast!

  • Color Me Frugal

    I ate a lot of popcorn in college. This was partly because I worked at a movie theater and got to take home bags of popcorn for free, but also because I love it. Great point about drinking water! Also I like that you included protein options in this list like eggs and peanut butter- that’s probably what my diet was most lacking in college.

    • Kevin

      Lucky you are as you got a job in place where you get to eat free popcorn. My brother used to work in a movie theater just to get free popcorn!
      Thanks for your comment.

  • http://deardebt.com/ Dear Debt

    I still eat a lot on this list, but I would add beans and cheese and tomatoes. You can do a lot with those items as well. I still need to work on drinking more water!

    • Kevin

      Your are right. Beans, cheese and tomatoes are also good item to add in your list. You can always make quick and easy salad from these.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Student Debt Survivor

    I love peanut butter. When I was in college my roommates and I did the “south beach” diet and peanut butter was one of the foods we were “allowed” during one or the phases (I think I lasted about 2 days). We ran out of teaspoons because we used to eat peanut butter from the jar with spoons. I really like hard boiled eggs recently. With a little salt and pepper and olive oil, or plain.

    • Kevin

      Great! Peanut butter sandwich was my favorite lunch. It was quick and easy. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://everythingfinanceblog.com Tushar Mathur

    I really enjoy bananas, especially WITH peanut butter, and I’m not even in college still! But the only thing I have to complain about with bananas is that they can be difficult to transport without bruising them.

  • http://financetriggers.com/ Finance Triggers

    I love cooking my own food. It’s my hobby creating new recipes. In this way your not just eating healthy but your saving money.