Cheap food alternative for students

Having to deal with expensive tuition, rent, parking permits, bills and other costly living and college expenses, the last thing students want to do is worry about being able to afford to eat. Instead of resorting to costly meals, here are some smart strategies and budget-friendly alternatives for all students.

First things first, make the effort to give up convenience foods. Not only are they unhealthy, but the prices can add up. Next, know where to shop in order to stay within budget. Choose a store that sells bulk or wholesale food, and if possible, pick one that is closest to home and most convenient. This will allow for less money to be spent on gas and more on your shopping trip.

Now with a budget in mind and grocery list in hand, shop smart. Walk through the aisles and pick up foods that will last you a long time, and can be reused for multiple meals, such as rice, dry beans, oatmeal, pasta, peanut butter, non-fat milk, flour and cornmeal. This way, when money gets low, you can still prepare meals that are nutritious. Also, don’t hesitate to reach for store brand products or to whip out those coupons.

Here is a sample grocery list for under $35 that will last about a week.

Prices were obtained from and will likely vary by store location. By using coupons or taking advantages of sales, it is possible to beat these prices.

Grocery List for Walmart:

1 gallon of milk – $2.98

1 dozen eggs – $1.88

15 oz of oatmeal – $1.68

1 lb apples – $1.19

32 oz pasta – $1.88

1 lb frozen chicken breast – $2.32

8 oz Tomato Sauce – $0.34

14 oz frozen vegetables – $1.28

16 oz baguette – $1.60

16 oz frozen fruit – $2.33

10 granola bars – $2.18

18 oz strawberries – $2.08

32 oz plain yogurt – $2.18

16 slices of cheese – $1.18

1 lb cold cut ham/turkey – $3.98

Grocery List for Dollar Store:

1 loaf of bread – $1

1 jar of peanut butter – $1

1 jar of jelly or honey – $1

1 bag of pretzels – $1

1 bag of rice – $1

Total $34.08

Now that you have a fully-stocked fridge with a variety of foods, here are a few ideas to turn those simple ingredients into premium meals.

For Breakfast

1) Omelet with mixed vegetables


§2 eggs

§2 tbsp. milk

§1 cup mixed vegetables

§½ cup ham, turkey or chicken

§salt and pepper


§Spray an “8 pan with cooking spray and place on medium heat

§Add frozen vegetables and meat to pan

§Crack eggs into separate bowl and add milk, salt and pepper

§Beat with a fork or whisk until combined

§Pour egg mixture into pan with vegetables and meat

§Cook until sides are dry, gently pivoting pan to ensure evenness.

§Flip omelet and cook on other side.

§Gently flip other side over to create half circle

§Serve and enjoy

2) Oatmeal with milk, Chopped Apples and Strawberries drizzled with Honey


§½ cup oats

§1 cup milk

§sliced strawberries and apples


§sugar (to taste)


§Combine oats and milk in a pot over medium low heat

§Bring to a simmer, continue to stir frequently until mixture thickens

§Add desired amount of sugar

§Stir until mixture has reached desired consistency (12 – 15 minutes)

§Serve hot and place sliced strawberries and apples on top

§Drizzle honey and enjoy

For Lunch

1) Baguette Sandwich with Cold Cut Ham or Turkey, Cheese and Side of Pretzels


§6 in baguette

§cold cut ham or turkey

§2 slices of cheese

§1 bag of pretzels


§Half 6 in baguette

§Place ham or turkey and cheese in center

§Serve with a side of pretzels and enjoy

2) Toasted Peanut Butter, Jelly and Strawberry Filled Sandwiches with Side of Apples


§2 slices of bread

§peanut butter


§sliced apples and strawberries


§Toast two slices of bread

§Spread peanut butter and jelly on each side

§Place sliced strawberries on each slice

§Combine two slices

§Serve with a side of sliced apples and enjoy

For Dinner

1) Baked Chicken Breast on a Bed of Rice with Steamed Veggies


§1 cup rice

§2 cups water

§1 tsp. salt

§1 tbsp. vegetable oil

§1 – 1 ½ lbs boneless chicken cut into strips

§1 bag of mixed vegetables


§Bring water to a boil in small sauce pan

§Stir in rice, add salt

§Bring back to gentle simmer

§Cover pot and turn heat down to low.

§Cook for 18-25 min (white rice)

§Meanwhile, pour oil into large pan and heat

§Add chicken and cook on high

§Stir often until chicken is lightly golden

§Add frozen vegetables, stirring often until thawed

§Once thoroughly cooked, serve over rice and enjoy

2) Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Broccoli


§½ lb pasta

§3 quarts of water

§Salt to taste

§1 cup tomato sauce

§1 cup frozen broccoli or mixed vegetables


§In large pot, bring water to a boil

§Add pasta and stir

§Add salt

§Continue to stir until pasta is “al dente,” or firm to the bite yet cooked through

§Meanwhile, place tomato sauce into small saucepan on low heat

§Pour vegetables into sauce and cover

§Once pasta is ready, drain. Do not rinse

§Toss pasta in warmed saucepan with prepared sauce

§Cook together for about two minutes

§Serve and enjoy