How to save money on groceries,
eat better, and kiss your spendy fast-food suppers goodbye
By Rebekah Bradway
October 24, 2006 | It's a constant battle between money
and food for the average college student, and a lot
of the time, food wins. That aching need for a quick
belly fix can overshadow any image of a full piggy bank.
Or, if "money's on your mind," perhaps health isn't.
However, there are plenty of simple ways to save money
with eating, even with healthy foods included.
A huge way to save food money is to cook instead of
just eating out. Whether it's time for a Saturday breakfast
or a late night snack, students tend to head to their
cars rather than walking a few steps to their kitchens
when their stomachs grumble for something more.
Cooking from scratch saves a lot of money, senior
engineering major Katherine Berg said. She says she
and her husband Ryan always buy in bulk and would rather
spend time than money on a great meal.
Berg mentioned how she easily makes her own spaghetti
sauce instead of buying it pre-made from the store.
She said she buys ground turkey and peppers in bulk
as well as any on-sale tomato sauce.
"[Ryan and I] can make a meaty, textured, flavorful
spaghetti sauce for less than $2, and it's healthier
[than the store-bought kind] because it doesn't have
all the extra preservatives," Berg said.
And what does she do with any extra?
"I usually combine any leftovers into other meals,"
Berg said. "I mix the spaghetti sauce with beans and
rice, and it makes a great dish."
Homemade meals are not only best for dinner though;
eating out at any time of the day causes extra expenses.
Buying the daily coffee, candy bar or café lunch really
adds up when snacks and sandwiches from home can replace
some of these daily mini-splurges.
Of course, students can't just be expected to cook
with only a stove, oven and microwave. But assuming
they have these, they can begin getting the basics.
When students first move in to their new apartments,
dorms, houses, or whatever their dwellings may be, they
should focus on getting the essentials for cooking.
These include both ingredients and utensils.
Ingredients like eggs, cooking spray and oil are usually
must-haves for cooking on a regular basis. Buying them
early-on keeps cooks prepared, and with the exception
of eggs, they will last years as long as they are stored
properly. Some other items to consider having on-hand
are spices, flour, sugars and milk.
A few basic utensils can be used to make the biggest,
most complicated meal, if that's what someone's going
for, or they can assist in cooking the more likely Top
Ramen or scrambled eggs for those who love quick and
easy meals. The best cooking utensils, according to
Utensils Your Money Can Buy, include pots, casserole
dishes, knives and mixing equipment (like bowls and
"All I really need is my can opener and a pot," Adam
Cooper, a junior business major, said. "But then again,
anything I need is in the house somewhere, whether it's
my roommate's or mine."
Cooper said he cooks at home "all the time," but usually
just foods such as pasta and canned soup.
Once students have the right equipment for cooking,
the shopping can begin...well, almost. One tip Berg
suggested for students before going to the store is
to keep in mind what they usually eat and making a list
of foods to buy.
"If you make a list of what to buy, you are much less
likely to impulse shop and get things you don't need.
Don't just buy what's on sale!" Berg said.
Berg said students tend to go to the store and just
buy whatever's on sale, thinking they're saving money.
She said it ends up costing them more since they were
unlikely to buy the sale item in the first place.
"And I don't know if you've noticed," Berg said, "but
a lot of the items people really need are in the back
of the store. Stuff like milk and cheese are back there,
forcing people to walk through all the stuff they don't
need. And if they see something, sometimes they just
buy it, just because."
Students should remember to buy only what they are
at the store for and what they will really use. And
if they eat something constantly that saves well, it's
less money in the long run to buy it in bulk and have
it whenever necessary.
Students also have plenty of opportunities to save
with coupons, store deals and options of stores. In
Logan, Gossner Foods, Inc., (located at 1051 N. 1000
West) sells cheese and milk at discount prices, and
USU students always get an extra 5 percent off of their
purchases at Smith's and Smith's Marketplace with a
student Fresh Values card.
Another chance to save is with Albertson's 10 for
$10 weekly deal. From each Wednesday to the following
Tuesday, the store puts items, such as cereal or baking
goods, on sale for one dollar each.
"I go to the 10 for 10 deals at Smith's and Albertson's.
Or just not eat. Whichever works," Mike Hinckley, a
sophomore history major said.
Students can also check several stores to see which
one offers the lowest prices on items they need or want.
"Driving to more than one store is worth the gas and
extra time for some items," Berg said.
After making lists, shopping around and finally purchasing
the food, students are most likely to find recipes online,
which is the cheapest thing to do if they already have
Internet access. If not, they can get connected on campus
or find the cheapest book available. For some low-budget
recipes online, try Cooking
on a Budget?
The phrase, "Time is money," does not hold true in
the case of students eating. Spending more time to save
money can really pay off, and there are plenty of ways
for students to find deals and keep some extra cash
that would have normally been spent on fighting hunger.