Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The average college student is constantly on a budget. Because of that, it’s important to learn how to make meals that will save you money while lasting a considerable amount of time. Being conscious about what you eat will end up saving you extra money – and you might end up creating a new, impromptu meal that you’ll be able to teach your kids when you see them off to college.

The first step is to go to your local grocery store such as a Winco or a Costco, where foods are sold in bulk. Make sure you get items that you know will last for a few weeks. For example, a bag of chicken tenders will most likely last a few days depending on how much you eat. Just make sure the foods you get are something you wouldn’t mind consuming frequently throughout the week.

There’s a certain system that people follow when buying foods that can be broken down into weekly categories. Items like cereal, canned foods, coffee, rice, pasta, frozen fruits and salad dressings are items that are monthly purchases and last a while. Foods that are a little more perishable, but still last for a decent amount of time are items like eggs and bread, which usually last from two to three weeks. And lastly, weekly additions that you can buy typically include fruits and vegetables. It’s important that you buy the foods that don’t last as long in small amounts in order to prevent yourself from wasting money.

We all know that with the endless stream of midterms and finals quickly approaching, preparing and enjoying a hearty meal is the last thing on our minds. This is where our budget-friendly foods can also come in handy. Try purchasing boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, which you can use to create dozens of original and filling meals simply and quickly. A dish that most students may personally enjoy is Kraft’s spinach and bacon mac n’ cheese. With four basic ingredients – one package of macaroni and cheese, two cups of spinach leaves, 1/8 teaspoon red ground pepper and four slices of bacon tossed together, you can easily whip up a savory meal that can last up to a week in the refrigerator.

 Not a macaroni and cheese fan? Don’t worry; we’ve still got you covered. A pound of uncooked pasta, a bag of frozen peas (or your preference of frozen vegetables), a can of evaporated milk and a jar of Alfredo pasta sauce can last for what seems like ages, but cook them in a large pot together, and you have yourself a satisfying dish that lasts up to eight meals. Have a rotisserie chicken and grated cheese left over from the salad you were making the other day? Stir them into the large pot as well to further enhance the delicious flavor that is sure to warm some bellies – and if not, just send all your leftovers to us.

 Potatoes and other fiber-filled foods can also be very advantageous for budgeting college students. Potatoes are chock-full of fiber and carbs, and they fill you up really quickly! Potatoes pair well with an array of meals as a side dish and can compliment many dishes involving meat. They can be eaten in a variety of forms such as french fries or baked potatoes. Being creative with your food options is important when trying to ration because it allows you to try new things that you never thought were possible.

Make sure to refrain from depriving yourself of the necessary nutrition you need just because you are running low on your budget or time. Feeding your body and soul should be a priority at any age, even as a college student. Don’t feel like you always have to go out and buy something at McDonalds or Lollicup to satisfy your cravings. Some of the best meals are the ones we create when we aren’t trying to make something delicious. Your wallet, and your stomach, will thank you.