Don’t even think of eating Ramen or Easy Mac. Whether you’re stocking your dorm’s mini fridge or your first apartment’s kitchen, you can eat well on a student budget. With limited space, money and appliances, accept the fact that while you will not be the next Giada or Mario, you can get by.
Milk and Cereal
Skip the dining halls for simple breakfasts. Meal swipes can cost around $10 per use — save them for full meals like Palladium Brunch to get the most for your money.
Skip the pasta and pick this quick and easy super-food instead. It makes less of a mess than pasta and is more versatile. Eat it sweet or savory, for breakfast or dinner. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way — quinoa expands to about three times its original size while cooking.
Fresh produce requires more prep work to cook — a hassle if you don’t have a full kitchen. Instead, buy frozen vegetables for the same nutritional punch. Pop them in your microwave and steam for a quick side or snack.
From fresh ground almond butter to classic Jif, nut butters are cheap, easy and tasty. Make a quick PB&J, dip your apple slices, spread it on some celery sticks or just dig in with a spoon.
Tea and Coffee
Once classes are in full swing and the air chills, you’ll need a warm jolt of caffeine to get by. Skip the $4 cups and economize. Buy a coffee pot or electric kettle and a mug and brew your own.
Extra butter varieties may be yummy, but go for plain or all-natural versions. The buttery kinds contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to lung problems and
Alzheimer’s. No, thank you.
Where to Shop
Simple staples vary dramatically in price throughout the city. At drug stores like Duane Reade or CVS, prices can reach highs like $5 for cereal. For better prices, sign up for a rewards card and take advantage of sales.
Trader Joe’s has a great selection of foods for all of your cooking and dining needs. In-store brands mean cheaper prices. Cereals start at around $2 and frozen veggies fall under the $3 mark.
Grocers like Gristedes, Food Emporium and Pathmark carry name-brand items found in chain stores. Gristedes is overpriced, but close to campus. Shop on Thursdays for a 10 percent student discount. Pathmark, the cheapest but farthest from campus, is located under the Manhattan Bridge.
Shop at Whole Foods or at markets like the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh produce. You’ll shell out a little more, but you get better quality. Sign up for the Whole Foods sale newsletter for weekly specials, which can save you some serious dough.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 4 print edition. Carrie Courogen is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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