If you run a search for cheap food for college students any where else, you will probably see that nearly everyone else says that the only foods are Mac N’ Cheese, Top Ramen, and Grilled Cheese. While these are great potential “meals” for college students, and are very cheap, they lack originality, and there are various different products out there that are very cheap in nature and you can make multiple dishes with.
Rice is a great food in that it can be made thousands of different ways. Some of the most versatile foods are the cheapest, especially in large volumes. Rice can be purchased for as little as 25 cents per pound, depending on where you buy it, what type you buy, and how much. There are very few expensive types of rice, though. If you’re going to be making rice for yourself and several room mates, I would suggest to just get some rice with the grain of your choice and buy in large quantities. This way, you can make entire pots of it either on the stove or in an inexpensive rice cooker. Rice cookers are great because you wan walk away while the rice cooks, when it is finished it will simply be warmed. Another alternative method to this is to get instant rice. This stuff is a bit more expensive, but is great because it can even be made in the microwave, and serving sizes can be microwaved within a minute to three minutes, depending on your machine. All around a great staple if you are in need of a cheap food.
Potatoes are another extremely versatile and cheap food. From instant mashed potatoes to whole potatoes, they are rather inexpensive by volume and are a great way to get full for a buck. Most grocery stores don’t exceed 59 cents/lb of potatoes, and you can get them cheaper than that in various places. You can boil these, mash them, bake them, throw on some cheap toppings, make stew, and do so much more. The potatoes themselves are cheap, but make sure to watch the price (and calories) of what you are putting on/in them. Potatoes and butter/sour cream is the cheapest way to go.
Yogurt is a surprisingly cheap and healthy way to eat breakfast if you are someone who can get away with just eating a cup or so. At several stores like Aldi and Save A Lot, you can get a half gallon of plain vanilla yogurt for less than 2.99. This will give you at least 10 breakfasts if you are not chowing the stuff down. Of course, there are many things that can be added to plain vanilla yogurt to extend its use. Add whole strawberries, cherries, or something else!
Frozen foods are incredibly bad for you, but also generally cheap, and very easy to make if you shop around. Frozen pizzas sometimes are as cheap as 2.00 and can feed 3-4 people. TV dinners can sometimes be purchased for under $1 a piece. Amongst the cheapest of the frozen foods are burritos and similar products. These are sometimes as low as 25 cents a piece, and if you can eat more than two you have a very large appetite. If you’re going to shop for a lot of frozen foods, I suggest bigger grocery stores, like Meijer, or Save A Lot. Do not shop at small grocery stores for these as they are likely over priced, and you will be able to see all of your options at a larger store.
Eggs and Toast
Eggs and toast are one of my favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. This is also a very cheap way to eat. Eggs are dirt cheap, and if you buy the right kind, so is bread. There is no need to spend more than 50 cents to a dollar for a very large breakfast that you can barely eat. There are many ways to make this, and you will not get bored with it. Alternatively, you can also make French Toast.
I hope these cheap solutions are a great way to get your grocery shopping started!