With all the other college expenses it is hard sometimes to find money in your college budget for food. Rather than give you some unrealistic advice about cutting back on your alcohol consumption, I have put together some of the best ways to save money on food in college. By implementing even just a couple of these money saving college tips you won’t have to decide between buy gas for your car or your text.
Money Saving Tip: Maximize College Meal Plan
Fully utilizing your college meal plan is the best way you can save money on food. Before the start of school you will usually be given several different meal plan options. Decide which plan you think will be best for you, and then choose the one above it. Your college meal plan is going to be the biggest bang for your buck, so don’t skimp. The end of my freshmen year my friends and I had lots of money still left on our meal plans and stocked our first college apartment with food and household goods from the student market.
Money Saving Tip: Shop at a Bulk Store
While going to the grocery store can save you lots of money over eating out everyday, shopping at a superstore like Costco will save you even more money. Get together with some friends and buy your food in bulk, and make sure to buy items with good shelf life or that you know you will eat a lot of. While buying a two pound block of cheese may seem like a good deal, it’s not if you let it go bad in your fridge.
Money Saving Tip: End of the day Deals/Dumpster Diving
This was one of my personal favorite ways to eat for free in college. A lot of restaurants make food fresh everyday (pizza by the slice, bagel shops, etc),and if they don’t end up selling it they will throw it in the trash. By showing up at closing time you are practically guaranteed free food. If you are unlucky to find an employee not willing to give you the food, move on to your next target. You are bound to find a restaurant that will hook you up. Become friends with the employees and even give them some money to guarantee yourself future success.
Although not very glamorous, dumpster diving behind grocery stores is equally as effective as going to eateries at closing time to pick off their excess food. Grocery stores are constantly throwing away food that they can no longer shelf, but is still more than good to eat. They will even nicely package the food to avoid animals from hanging out around the dumpsters, which doubles to preserve the food for thrift minded college students.
Money Saving Tip: Care Packages
One of the best ways to save money on food in college is the care package! If you can’t get your parents to send you more money, you can almost always get your mom to send you some food, including your favorite cookies. By timing the arrival of your care packages with some friends, you have the potential to create a consistent stream of incoming food packages.