As a university student, whether you're just starting your first semester or looking to finish up your last as a senior, money is always a salient topic. Eating healthy foods at regular intervals is crucial to your overall health and wellbeing – including your mental ability to do all the work you need to for your classes – but it can be quite expensive to have to purchase good food that will give you the nutrients you need, especially if you don't have the people or space required to purchase food in bulk. So if you're looking for a few ways to keep your food budget low while still eating right, then here's what you need to know.
Sale It In
The words "seasonal" and "sale" will become your bywords as you attempt to rein your budget in, so familiarize yourself with what fruits and veggies are in season at this particular moment (the handy chart here will help with that). Because they're more plentiful, seasonal fruits and veggies will virtually always be cheaper than those on the off season, and provide you with much needed nutrients. You can also find out when your local supermarket clears out its produce stock; some organic grocery stores will offer older (but still edible) fruits and veggies at a discounted price in order to prevent their having to throw them out.
Can It Up
Canned food is one of the best ways to introduce new, needed, or less common foods into your diet without breaking the bank. Sure, if you grew up eating garden fresh veggies, canned green beans will taste a little different – but put them in a casserole with mashed potatoes, canned corn, and some cream of chicken and you won't be able to really tell the difference. All sorts of necessary foods come canned – chicken, beans of all types, veggies, fruits, and even seafood like shrimp and tuna – and are generally much cheaper than their non-canned alternatives. As an added bonus, foods like canned fruit can be eaten right out of the jar, saving you dishes as well as money.
Stretch It Out
Ultimately, a lot of eating on a budget success comes from knowing how to stretch meals out. Adding cheap ingredients to meals to make the batch bigger – like adding canned tomatoes and peppers to chili, cheap frozen veggies to stews or chowders, or an extra handful of on-season produce to a sandwich, salad, or casserole – creates a few more meals out of that recipe than you would have had to begin with, which is good for your wallet. You can stretch leftovers by combining them with compatible other leftovers, giving you a feast that's already 90% made and 100% paid for.