Dining on a budget: How to shop and save

Ali Chiavetta
Features Writer

For those of us who don’t choose to brave the dining halls every day after having moved off- campus, making meals can be quite a feat. The misconception is that in order for something to taste good, it also needs to be expensive. As long as you are a savvy shopper, that doesn’t need to be true! There are many quality meals that college students can make whether in the residence halls or in an apartment. For residence hall life, things get a bit trickier because of the lack of resources.
Though each hall comes equipped with a full kitchen, many times it goes unused for most of the year. The reality is that students are looking for an easier way to make their food. If you live in a residence hall and are looking for a satisfying meal that doesn’t require a walk down to the Upper Deck, try some of these options.

Shopping at bulk stores can lead to greater savings.
Shopping at bulk stores can lead to greater savings.

Frozen foods are usually a college student’s best friend. Local grocery stores sell frozen microwaveable meals, frozen chicken nuggets, frozen vegetables and frozen fruit. Greek yogurt, which is as satisfying as a typical sandwich lunch, is sold relatively cheap. For an inexpensive breakfast option, try mixing frozen fruit in with Greek yogurt; healthy and delicious! If you’re looking for a sweet treat to make, there are hundreds of online recipes for “mug cakes.” These desserts are made using simple ingredients, a microwave and a coffee mug. For those of us living in apartments this year, we have more extensive options.
Clipping coupons may seem like something that only crazed mothers on TLC do, but it is actually a very smart idea. By watching the sales at local grocery stores, you will know the best times to buy your food. Buying things in bulk often reduces their prices, and stocks up your pantry for weeks. In addition to grocery stores like Weis and Giant, there are other less expensive options nearby. Amelia’s is a discount grocery store that offers many of the same brands as higher end grocery stores, but for less expensive prices.
The grocery store ALDI is also nearby, and offers lower prices on their off-brand products. Another inexpensive option that supports the local community is visiting your local farmer’s market. In Millersville, there is a farmer’s market right on W Frederick St. The Central Market in Downtown Lancaster also offers a unique shopping experience, though it may not save you all that much money. Saving money is all about shopping smart, and knowing the best times to go. Many students are fed up with the prices in the dining halls, so they are choosing to go off campus to satisfy their culinary needs.

Greek yogurt and frozen fruit is a healthy, fast, budget friendly meal.
Greek yogurt and frozen fruit is a healthy, fast, budget friendly meal.

Freshman student Alexandrea Koehler says, “The prices are ridiculously expensive! I went to the Cove and bought a tiny little sandwich that ended up being almost five dollars!” Her statement seems to be the norm around campus, and is causing many students to ditch their meal plans, and opt for a cheaper option. For those students that do eat on campus, be sure to get your money’s worth. Try eating at the Upper Deck and Bistro more frequently in order to get unlimited food for your money paid at the front counter.