The MHM Blog

How to Survive Without a College Meal Plan

Posted September 7, 2017

Survive College Plan

College meal plans can be expensive and the food, frankly speaking, not the best and notoriously repulsive.  Once you move away from dorms, you have the option to choose between college meal plan or plan your own meals.  Now, it becomes a question whether I’m going to spend the weekend going grocery shopping and cook my own meals or purchase a $5,000 meal plan that you know you’re not going to use them all!  At the same time, you want to save money and time.

First of all, groceries are expensive!  We can easily spend more than $100-$200 each trip.  When you have a bad habit of buying food at the grocery store and continue to go out anyway, then you will definitely spend more than you should have.  Often, you’ll think why to bother to cook when there are so many walkable restaurants on Green Street or how could you pass on ½ price fast food meals after midnight.  Well, these quick meals add up fast, and they can empty your bank account compared to cooking your own meals.  Let’s look at some ideas to inspire you to end your eating out addiction and help you save!

Often, one of the big mistakes college students make is not to include monthly budgets for their grocery shopping.  Make sure to allow yourself a certain amount of money for food because it will help you feel secure and responsible.  Limit yourself from eating out and set rules, and begets.  For example, allow yourself to eat out once or twice a week so that it’ll keep your expenses in check.  In addition, there are many helpful apps that provide weekly promotional flyers and coupon books from every store in your area or apps that will get the most out of your grocery budget.  Here are the ones to try:

  • Flipp: Gathers the dozens of weekly promotional flyers and coupon for savings. Flip’s ultimate shopping list will help you plan ahead by finding what’s on sale and stay organized in-store.
  • Ibotta: Get rebates or cash back for the things you already bought.  Scan your receipts with your camera, and then cash out with PayPal deposits or gift cards.
  • Checkout 51: You can earn cash back savings when you buy your favorite brands.

Always and remember to have a list on your phone or handwritten notes, and stick to the list!  Often, people do purchase something that is too good to pass, which is understandable.  If the item that you want is not on the list, the chance is that you probably don’t need it.  Do avoid walking through all aisles, just simply stick to your list and get out!

Another helpful shopping tip is to use the calculator app on your phone as you add things to your cart.  It allows you to recognize the cost of everything in your cart and check if you have exceeded the budgets.

When you get a chance to look at your bank statements, check where you spend the most money on.  Do you spend a lot of money on pizza, fast food restaurants, or Chinese deliveries?  Nowadays, there are many food delivery services in a college town that can deliver you pretty much anything and every day until 2 or 3 AM.  Midnight food craving is really hard to resist, especially when you’re in college.  Save yourself the trouble and try to avoid from those delivery foods.  Balance your deliveries with healthier foods or perhaps, make your own pizza or burgers at home.

Moreover, there are many YouTube channels and websites that provide less time consuming, easy and healthy recipes to make your meals.  You don’t need to be a chef to make good food!  Keep your ingredients simple, cook safe and happy grocery shopping!

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