With all the other expenses that college students seem to make, it's hard for many of them to eat a decent meal. Many blow most of their income on food, and spend way more than they should have too because they don't spend wisely. Either that or they buy the worst foods possible and miss out on important nutrients that they should get every day. If you can spare $25 a week, I can make sure you have some pretty healthy meals that only need a microwave to be made.
First, before we can work on spending money, you'll need to save yourself some money, and this starts with you using your meal plan. If you eat one meal in the café a day, for seven days, do you realize how much money you could save in a week? Let's say the average price of a meal in the café is $6. That seems to be the average price of a filling meal at a fast food restaurant. One meal a day, at $6, can save you upwards of $42 a week! That's more than enough to buy your food and have some left over to carry over for the next week, or go towards more important things. I know the café food isn't like home, and I know it doesn't always taste the best, but usually café's will serve all kinds of food, and most of it is decent enough to eat. One meal a day will not kill you.
Secondly, one of the easiest ways to cut your food bill during a shopping trip is to clip coupons. Coupons aren't hard to find either. Sunday papers usually carry coupons for the hottest food and personal care items. I know the amounts may seem small when you look at them, but they will save you valuable dollars. If you go into a store with $5 in coupons, you can buy what you want and save $5 on the bill. That $5 can go towards gas money, personal items, or be saved for next week. Besides, it's likely you can save much more money if you can find a store that will allow you to double coupons. Do this every week, and you can save $20 or more a month. That $20 will turn into $240 or more a year! I'm sure you can think of far better things you'd like to spend your money on than food.
When it comes to shopping, buy easy to fix items that are made for families on the go, most of which can be found in the freezer section of the grocery store. TV dinners are an excellent choice because sometimes, meals can be found for $1 or less. You can stock up on a few of these. A popular food of college students seems to be Ramen noodles simply because they are so cheap. However, don't eat just plain Ramen noodles. Pick up a bag of grilled chicken strips. Fix your noodles, and then fix a few of the strips. Cut them into smaller pieces, and mix them with the noodles. You'll have a pretty tasty meal equaling about $2. Using only a few strips a day or less means you'll have the bag for a pretty long time. Just keep the bag in a freezer and you'll be able to enjoy the strips for about a month or two.
More and more microwavable foods are becoming available. You can find rice in a pouch that can be placed into the microwave (pouch and all) for only a few minutes. After that, you'll have a pretty quick, tasty meal, which I'm sure you'd consider better than any café food. Don't forget that lunch meat and bread can become a valuable meal choice, especially when you need to eat on the run. All of these can be purchased for just under a few dollars and usually keep well for a few weeks.
To ensure you are getting the best deals possible, spend a day looking, not buying a thing. Check out what you'd like to invest in and see what's worthwhile. Write down the prices and add up how much you'd be spending a week. Don't forget to take into account how often you think you'll run out of certain items. Some items you won't have to buy every week. You'll mostly have a lot of estimations to do, but it will be worth it in the end if you can decide how much money you'll need a week to do some shopping. Also take into consideration any other items that may need to be purchased on a shopping trip. I suggest making a budget to help guide you on your shopping decisions.