Cheap food for college student

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Supercook is a great site for figuring out what you can cook with what you have - really useful if you're trying to stretch out what you have in the fridge until your next budgeted shopping trip or if you've bought a bunch of random stuff on sale and don't know how to put it together.

 

My go-to dinner when I was a student was pasta and frozen veggies. I often added garlic & oil, or cheese, or chili sauce. It was cheap, easy to boil spaghetti and microwave the veggies after a long day of classes, and it was a lot healthier than all the other fast options.

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Shop with the other students so you can buy in bulk and split it later. Don't forget to bring your own shopping bags so you don't have to spend money on plastic ones there. If you don't have bags, see if you can borrow from others.

 

Find out which is the cheapest store, as prices can vary. Getting frozen veggies in a bag and eating a little at a time works well for getting your greens. Skip buying drinks at the market (too heavy and too expensive).

 

The idea of pooling resources was a great one. Ask others if they want to take turns cooking on Sunday night or something like that. You usually get to taste some great international food and save some money that way.

 

I find buying bread way more efficient than making it. If you put it in the freezer and only defrost a few slices at a time, it won't mold. The Mensa should be relatively cheap, but isn't for every meal if you're on a tight budget.

 

If you're not a math major, get a pocket calculator and figure out the cheapest way to buy things like meat. Sometimes cheap looking packages of deli slices are actually much pricier than just buying by weight at the butcher's counter.

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I am from the states. I understand what are you saying. The dishes here are really small compare to the size in U.S. My suggestion is you could go for a Doener from Turkish small resturant. Here they call it imbiss I think. It cost you 3.00 euros and you should be good to go. If not? Go and get the second one. B)

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I studied in Copenhagen which is a pretty expensive place and just wanted to share some of the cheap food options that I learned while I was living there. First, like others have mentioned, checking fliers to see what is on sale, which can be a pain, but can save you lots on more expensive things like meat. Second, planning out your meals and writing a list. This way you buy only what you need. I also opted to eat cheaper proteins like canned fish over meat.

 

I agree with a lot of other people have mentioned that starches like Haferflocken (aka oatmeal), pasta and ramen are good, cheap and filling options. I also made big batches of macaroni and cheese, lasagna and chili and kept it in the freezer.

I got lots of recipes from the website the Hillbilly Housewife (http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/) which were tasty and super cheap.

 

I also used to buy a loaf of french bread (since it's usually less than 1 euro) and easy to eat with just butter or olive oil. I also used it for sandwiches or to eat with chili or soup.

 

Hope this is helpful!

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Eating healthy on a shoestring budget is actually not as difficult as people think.

 

While most of the cheaper types of food (rice, pasta, etc) are just empty carbs, there are alternatives like lentils and beans that are jam-packed with proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Nowadays, one can get these at practically any store, but for extra variety, one can head to one of the Middle Eastern supermarkets. My favorite one is Verdi, which is not far from the Munich Hauptbahnhof. There, one can also find fresh fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices.

 

Frozen meat, fish and vegetables are also a good alternative to their far more expensive fresh counterparts, and are just as nutritious. In fact, quality-wise, frozen food is often better than fresh because it's deep-frozen at the source right away, and is not exposed to above-zero temperatures for days before finally making it to the consumer's plate. At Aldi, one can get frozen Pacific Wild Salmon filets for something like €1.50 apiece.

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A salad my mom used to make:

 

3 or 4 chopped boiled potatoes

3 chopped hard-boiled eggs

1 large can of flaked tuna (oil or brine)

Chopped anchovy-filled olives to add some kick

Mild olive oil (quantity optional - suggest 3-4 tablespoons)

 

Stir ingredients and enjoy.

 

Upmarket version includes adding chopped king prawns, or for a cholesterol explosion, substitute a good mayonnaise for the olive oil

 

Agree that Middle Eastern and Turkish shops are better value for fresh veg and fruits, but also herbs and spices (and saffron, ridiculously expensive in supermarkets).

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Buy a ready cooked chicken from your local supermarket or butchers. I saw one today for 5,95 €. You can eat it for a number of days with rice, noodles, salad and the rest can be used for sandwiches or to add to chicken broth and you have a real home made chicken soup for another day.

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You can buy a whole chicken for 2.99 €, and roast it yourself. Why pay extra for someone else to do it if you are on a strict budget? With the other 2 €, I can buy a bag of noodles and a kilo of carrots.

 

Make your own chicken soup with a fresh or frozen chicken. It isn't rocket science. Just toss the ingredients into a pot of water and cook. Really hard to mess this up.

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My favorite trick is checking the bottom shelves in the supermarkets. For things like milk, pasta, sliced bread, cheese, flour, sauces and many other items, the premium priced items are almost invariably at eye level. The cheap brands, including those with the plain packaging are typically on the bottom shelf. Retail companies know that for these low value items most customers will prefer to reach out to the products at eye level rather than expend the extra physical effort to squat and explore the bottom shelves Pay attention the next time you are at the supermarket, be aware of product placement, and ask yourself whether things are not laid out in a way to tempt you to spend more money. You'll realize they are. Next time you are at a REWE supermarket check out the "American sandwich" bread. They have to different brands: "REWE" and "JA". The REWE brand looks much nicer. Now, look at it closely and ignore the packaging; just look at the bread. You'll notice the bread looks exactly the same. Read the list of ingredients. Do you see a difference? I don't. So what's the difference? The REWE brand has an attractive, colorful packaging and is placed at eye level. The Ja brand has a dull packaging and is placed at the bottom of the shelf. It costs about half the price, but it's harder to pick up and isn't eye-catching. Do you see how it works?

 

Other tips:

 

The rice sold for rice pudding costs typically a third of of the rice used for risotto. Guess what: they are almost identical. Make cheap risotto dishes with the former, not the latter.

 

Don't buy bottled water, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, etc., etc. Drink tap water!

 

Make a shopping list before going to the market and STICK TO IT. Don't wander around and end up buying overprocessed, overpriced junk you don't need and didn't intend to buy in the first place.

 

Do your grocery shopping right after you've eaten. If you are hungry you'll end up buying a lot of unnecessary food, and you are in danger of succumbing to the salty snacks and ice cream strategically placed at the check out. If you are hungry you'll have a hard time trying to ignore them.

 

Remember that eating cheap doesn't have to mean compromising on quality. Eggs, bread, flour, milk, apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, potatoes, dried pulses and so many other items are cheap, but they are not low-quality food.

 

That's just what I can think of at the top of my head. Good luck!

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Anything dry (chickpeas, beans, rice, bulgur, lentils, pasta etc) or frozen (veggies, meat, fish) will in general have a much longer shelf life, and will cost much less.

 

I'd avoid the canned stuff, though, especially canned meat, as they contain additives.

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I get why shopping and feeding yourself on a tight budget can be a bit daunting for 17 or 18 year old first semester student living out of their parents' home for the first time, or for an exchange student right off the plane. Just as an example, at home veggies are cheap, chicken is cheaper than meat, milk products are expensive, and store brand pasta is inedible. Here things are different and it takes some time to catch on to some of the tricks when every cent counts. What I don't get is that students can't seem to do more basic things, like showing up for class, getting homework in on time, following basic instructions about how to cite things and format papers, and understanding why you cannot cancel attendance for a non-obligatory, number of participant limited event the night before because you "don't have time".

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Hi Archerius,

 

Rewe and Edeka are the most expensive Supermarkets to buy food in, unless it's the product called "Ja". Ja products are usually in white plain packaging with blue "Ja" written on them. The quality of the products are not so bad because they are most likely from normal products put into the plain ones.

 

The Supermarket Penny are owned from managers who used to work for Rewe.

The Supermarket Lidl are owned from the managers that used to work for Aldi. I wouldn't recommend Aldi but make your own experience.

Lidl I find personally good quality and price in buying meat.

As a student I used to buy from Penny. However I find it not so price quality worth in fresh fruit and veg unless you look at their offers.

As a student I used to shop at Kaufland and still do. I personally find it cheap in buying oil, herbs and spices as well as fruit and veg.

I shop mainly late at night around 8pm that's when the offers are better because the people who work there must look for the fresh food that are getting old.

 

Also as a student I used to eat pasta with pesto and fresh cream with nuts, that is a quick delicious meal and can make the stomach full.

Pasta costs 89 cents, Pesto in a jar costs 2 euros, fresh cream 59 cents and nuts around 1 euro.

 

Good luck!

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Hmmm...one can have a full stomach every day for 69 Cents...it only depends wheter you can eat Spagetti mit Tomato or Champignon sauce every day for years...problem sold.

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I once had to cook 4 meals for 30 people on a budget of 500 DM. I used soya mince and soya chunks instead of meat (I soaked them in vegetable stock prior to cooking.)

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