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The Best Cheap Meals for Students on a Budget

The “poor college student” stereotype, while perhaps not typical, exists for a reason. Let’s face it: a college education can be exceptionally expensive, and with more students than ever plundering their life’s savings to afford it, they’re looking for ways to save some money wherever they can.

Whether you’re looking for the ideal university or you want to find the best online Master’s program, food is going to prove to be one of your biggest expenses while you pursue your degree. The good news is that if you know where to look, you can find some great food to eat even if you’re on a strict budget. Here are some ideas.

Learn How to Cook

It’s never too late to learn how to cook. Even if you burn your toast and boil your tea every time, there are some fundamental skills you can learn to be kind to your palate and pocketbook.

It’s common knowledge that on-campus meal plans are expensive. The good news is that most universities will give you at least some basic options with regard to how many meals you’ll be committing to eating each week. Many students who live on campus are electing to eat fewer cafeteria meals, supplementing them with home- (or rather dorm-cooked) meals.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a dorm with a stove or oven, you’d do well to invest in some basic pots and pans. There are quite a few great meals that you can make for yourself for a fraction of what you’d pay in the cafeteria.

Cheap meals can include:

- Pasta: You can buy a full pound of spaghetti at most stores or a dollar or less, and pasta sauce is similarly cheap.

- Chicken: Frozen chicken legs or breasts are highly affordable when bought in bulk or by the pound. You’ll need to make sure you have a freezer for storage, however.

- Fruit: Bananas, in particular, are not only convenient, but dirt cheap. For around $.40 per pound, bananas are a delicious (not to mention mobile) treat for college students.

- Ramen Noodles: You didn’t think we’d leave out Ramen, did you? A perennial favorite among college students, Ramen noodles are as cheap as they are versatile. A quick web search will turn up a great many other ingredients and spices that you can use add some flair to your noodles.

Eat (and Learn) on a Budget

While eating on a budget at a traditional university is certainly possible, it’s not without its challenges. As we noted above, it assumes that you’ll have access to basic kitchen facilities throughout your educational career. For online students, working with a modest budget is even easier.

If you’ve been wrestling with the decision of whether to attend a traditional college or enroll in an online degree program, know that the question of your food budget could well swing your vote one way or the other.

College students attending online classes can remain living at home, with all of the comforts that implies. Not the least of these are a well-stocked kitchen and access to a stove and oven.

If you want to combine the advantages of an online education with the satisfaction and cost-effectiveness of home-cooked meals, then you might very well consider completing your college education online.

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