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8 Real WaysTo Eat For Cheap (Or Free)!

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 For a lot of kids going off to college is the first time they ever experience the thrilling reality of adulthood. Surprise! Your laundry doesn’t do itself and food doesn’t magically appear when you’re hungry. I think we all owe our moms a big thank you for constantly keeping a well-stocked fridge…am I right? It’s also the first time most people learn the cold hard facts of budgeting. And it can be a brutal lesson, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. Here are 8 tips to help make the most of that meager food budget you’ve allotted yourself. If you do it right you may even find yourself with some extra cash in the end. Then you’ll have more money left over for fun things like…textbooks.


1. Stock Up On Budget Classics


Let me introduce you to the college version of the four food groups. Mac and cheese, canned tuna, soup and ramen noodles. If you are poor AND lazy, you don't even have to go all the way to the grocery store. Get yourself to a Walgreens and stock up stat!  It will make you cry yourself to sleep every night at first, but soon you will unleash the creative beast within. By the time you graduate you will be making grilled cheese sandwiches with a clothing iron and tuna casserole using nothing but a Bunson burner you’ve borrowed from the lab. Dorm room MacGuyver has a nice ring to it, yes?


2. Free Samples At Grocery Stores


I’m not saying that you should be a total mooch, but there’s no reason you can’t stock up on your budget classics at a store that happens to be offering up slamming samples as well! Just be friendly and don’t swipe that last pig and blanket from a hungry child’s reach. And please, do NOT double dip. Chips and recessions are two things that should never double-dip. Ice cream on the other hand, is excellent when double-dipped.


3. Attend College Club Meet And Greets


Yeah, you might not necessarily be interested in joining the Campus Mime Company, but you are definitely willing to consider it for the amount of time it takes you to inhale a plate of delicious BBQ. When they ask you to attend the next meeting just say, you still haven’t recovered from a traumatic childhood mime experience, but you’ll get back to them when you’re ready to let go of the pain. Which will sadly be never.


4. Get A Job At A Restaurant


What better way to get some free food than by taking a job in a place where they actually MAKE FOOD! I know right? Genius! If you don’t have a lot of experience waiting tables you can always be the promotional mascot. Yeah it might be a little embarrassing, but the pain you’ll feel when the girl you’re crushing on sees you in a giant Hot Dog costume is nothing compared to going to sleep every night with a rumbling tummy.


5. Happy Hour


If you’re over 21 there are a lot of places you can go that offer happy hour specials, sometimes even free bar fare, like wings and nachos. But just because you’re under 21 doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy  happy hour! A lot of restaurants in college towns offer ‘happy hour’ specials to increase business in their ‘off’ hours.  I don’t know about you but for me, 99 cent tacos is the definition of happy!




Scientific proof that cheap and delicious do not have to mutually exclusive things. It is also the most social of foods. Pizza + People= Pizza Party! Now that’s the kind of math I have no trouble understanding! 


7. Fast Food Dollar Menus


Almost every fast food restaurant now has some version of the dollar menu. And you can always scrap up a dollar. Just remember to clean the change you scrounged up in the rec room sofa before using it. They’ll take your pennies but no one accepts lint and stale potato chips as currency.


8. Take Advantage Of Your College I.D.


Your college I.D. is more than just an opportunity for you to take a goofy picture. It can get you huge discounts at a ton of local businesses and most of the giant chain stores, even if you don’t look as pirate-y IRL.

What are some of your favorite ways to eat cheap? Tell us in the comments!

Check Out 9 Real Ways To Save on School Supplies!