Eating well: too expensive for a college student

  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Jun 09, 2010 11:33 PM GMT
    Being a college student, my job just doesn't pay me enough to eat at the level I need to to gain weight in a healthy way by consuming enough quality food. How does one deal with this problem?

    Please tell me that I'm the victim of a myth that eating well is expensive!
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    Jun 10, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    There have been some other topics on this- but the search feature doesn't work properly... so when I get back I'll link you one that I commented on... patience.
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    Jun 10, 2010 12:19 AM GMT
    I would scope out some local farmers markets. The produce will most certainly be fresh-er, the prices cheaper (for more food), and you will be supporting your local farmers.

    I've found that for the same price ($5), I can get twice as much fruit of a selected variety at the farmers market than I can at the brick and mortars.

    The other thing is, if you have the space, inclination, capacity, or all of the aforementioned, you can grow your own food. That's actually the new trend. Those upside-down planter things? Only $10 at BB&B (with a coupon, of course) and you can grow tomatoes and other veggies indoors - free food right there.

    The other thing is if you're more into meats and whatnot, DO NOT be afraid to go to your local brick and mortar stores and scan the clearance meat section. These meats are 1-3 days away from "expiring", so the store is trying to clear them out. In all honesty, if you buy what you want and then freeze it, you'll be fine. Meat at the store is NOT refrigerated, and hence why the high turnover. I've been able to get rump roasts, chickens and ribs at 70% off. But make sure you either cook it immediately or otherwise freeze it.

    Another thing is, if you can get several friends who like meat together, you all can get together and purchase a cow. That's right, a cow. Your money will be pooled together to purchase, feed, house, store, and eventually butcher the cow and you all get to pick what parts you want. This can work out splendidly and the cost isn't that much, around $50-100, depending on how many people go in. However, the more people who go in, the less your share, so consider that. The upside is that you get A LOT of mean. My friend went in on this with several other people and he got enough meat to last 2 months. We had to use my freezer to store the extras (which, of course, was paid for by my being able to use some meat icon_biggrin.gif)
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Jun 10, 2010 12:24 AM GMT
    more bad news for you: when you finish college, get a real job (esp if it's with the fed govt) in the real world, add on a car and house payments..it's still expensive to eat well. icon_sad.gif
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    Jun 10, 2010 12:35 AM GMT
    There are some great ways

    A cup of rice and a vegetarian stir-fry
    Replace soda with water
    Pasta primavera
    Homemade Fruitshakes/smoothies
    Cheese and crackers
    Nuts
    Beans (flavored with a little meat)
    Fruits and vegetables
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    Jun 10, 2010 12:42 AM GMT
    This might get rejected by the populace but Tuna cans.. cheap cheap cheap.....

    Beans..... cheap cheap.....
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    Jun 10, 2010 12:45 AM GMT
    Not sure where you go to school, but you could get a job at one of the dining halls which could probably translate into free meals.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Jun 10, 2010 12:48 AM GMT
    Actually, it's easier than you think. Truly.

    Here, I'll make you a deal. Tell me five things, and I'll make up a shopping list for you (mind you, it'll be based on going to my local Publix supermarket, but prices will be somewhat comparable) and write out a very basic meal plan for one week based on that list.

    1. what is your monthly/weekly food budget?
    2. what is your target bodyweight?
    3. any food allergies or "yuck!" foods?
    4. do you have access to kitchen with stove/oven or just microwave?
    5. list everything currently in your fridge/cupboard

    Seriously, this will be fun, it's something I'm actually quite good at doing, and I like it. So, offer's on the table.icon_wink.gif
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    Jun 10, 2010 1:29 AM GMT
    Get rid of juice soda and beer replace with water (Cost Savings).
    Replace processed foods with fresh fruit and vegetables (Break Even).
    Eat out less, especially fast food (Cost Savings)
    -This last one sounds counter intuitive, but if you actually research how much it costs to eat fast food, it is shockingly more expensive than if you just made the same meal yourself, and it's less healthy.
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    Jun 10, 2010 3:59 AM GMT
    I eat a lot of Tuna.. icon_confused.gif
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    Jun 10, 2010 4:07 AM GMT
    fizzle saidBeing a college student, my job just doesn't pay me enough to eat at the level I need to to gain weight in a healthy way by consuming enough quality food. How does one deal with this problem?

    Please tell me that I'm the victim of a myth that eating well is expensive!


    In my own experience, it's not what you're eating, it's what you're doing. If you're lifting and doing enough exercise, your body will make use of what you give it. If you're working it, it'll use what you give it. It's excess that is damaging/fattening, hence the term everything in moderation.

    As far as cheap food, dairy is sufficient instead of any protein shakes etc, and tuna offers a great source of cheap protein when combined with rice. Similarly, a good ole pb&j also creates a complete protein. Beans and rice again offer a complete protein.
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    Jun 10, 2010 4:11 AM GMT
    Alot of states department of human services now offer SNAP ( what food stamps are now called) to college students. In michigan they are called bridge cards and i get 200 dollars a month towards food. I dont know what i would do with out it. Do some research into that. Also many college campuses offer food banks for students as well.
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    Jun 10, 2010 4:23 AM GMT
    rnch saidmore bad news for you: when you finish college, get a real job (esp if it's with the fed govt) in the real world, add on a car and house payments..it's still expensive to eat well. icon_sad.gif



    hahaha that is true. However, did you think about other sources of proteins? Also talk to a trainer or another buddy at the gym, to see where they get their food or where are the bargains. I always go either online for deals or even wal mart.
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    Jun 10, 2010 4:50 AM GMT
    Look, anything you make at home will be cheaper and healthier than anything prepackaged or at a restaurant. I only had access to a Whole Foods back in college and I still was able to survive on a measly budget. You just have to be smart, creative and willing to cook.

    What I bought a lot of?
    - Beans
    - Rice (If you're bad with stove-top rice, invest in a rice cooker. They can be as cheap as 20 bucks.)
    - Bulk packs of chicken (That I cooked all at once and used over the course of the week in salads, quesadillas, etc.)
    - Veggies that are on sale (There will always be something, stay away from anything precut or packaged. Frozen veggies can be cheaper.)
    - Canned tuna
    - Cheese by the block
    - Tortillas (For burritos, quesadillas, roll-ups.)
    - Oatmeal (The big size, not the individual packets. It heats up in the microwave in 3 minutes, it's filling and cheap.)
    - Invest in some spices, too, to make things more interesting. They should last you a year in the pantry. Definitely buy salt, pepper, oregano (or italian seasoning), red pepper flakes, garlic powder, sugar and cinnamon.
    - Invest in a Brita filter (Drink water. Lots of water. And not bottled water.)
    - Basic whey protein powder (Trader Joe's has a good one. It's cheap and does it's job if you're on a budget.)
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    Jun 10, 2010 5:24 AM GMT
    Tuna
    Whole Wheat Pasta
    Lentils
    Brown Rice

    All $1 and under a dollar (.80-.90c) when on sale per pound.

    Bulk up with chicken breasts on sale and tuna.

    I guess I have an unfair advantage, I went to culinary school in France and cooked with ingredients that shouldn't be touched. I got back to the states and now I fucking masturbate to the idea of shopping each week for $35-40 for TWO people. Coupons and buying items on sale get me through. When Barilla whole wheat is on sale I buy around 11 lbs since it is a .30c savings on each box.

    Nuts are expensive, but peanut butter isn't!
  • Greygull

    Posts: 282

    Jun 10, 2010 9:41 AM GMT
    Haha Like Phinny I have an unfair advantage. Being a chef makes it real easy to shop for two people and only spend 70 bucks a month on groceries. All ic an is buy simple things to save money, buy your own beans and rice and season a cook them yourself its far cheaper, Veggies are always cheaper at a farmers market, Whole chickens and the discount meat bin and good places to get meat, you can do alot with a 10 dollar whole chicken, roast it, cut off the meat you want then pick the carcass and oil it with veg trimmings to make stock ( or broth depending on how much meat is left on it). You can then use the stock to flavor beans or rice or make really simple soups.

    I swear by eggs, They are cheap as hell and calorie packed, your farmers market may or may not have cheaper eggs.
  • MilitaryWolf

    Posts: 43

    Jun 10, 2010 10:04 AM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidActually, it's easier than you think. Truly.

    Here, I'll make you a deal. Tell me five things, and I'll make up a shopping list for you (mind you, it'll be based on going to my local Publix supermarket, but prices will be somewhat comparable) and write out a very basic meal plan for one week based on that list.

    1. what is your monthly/weekly food budget?
    2. what is your target bodyweight?
    3. any food allergies or "yuck!" foods?
    4. do you have access to kitchen with stove/oven or just microwave?
    5. list everything currently in your fridge/cupboard

    Seriously, this will be fun, it's something I'm actually quite good at doing, and I like it. So, offer's on the table.icon_wink.gif


    Oh! Do Me!! Do Me next!!!

    I'll be in college soon too, I'm sure I'll have the same problem
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    Jun 10, 2010 10:05 AM GMT
    Most of the comments above are spot on.

    It's not as difficult to do as you think it is, but it does require discipline, and more time at the grocery store.

    You'll get the hang of it.
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Jun 10, 2010 10:16 AM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidActually, it's easier than you think. Truly.

    Here, I'll make you a deal. Tell me five things, and I'll make up a shopping list for you (mind you, it'll be based on going to my local Publix supermarket, but prices will be somewhat comparable) and write out a very basic meal plan for one week based on that list.

    1. what is your monthly/weekly food budget?
    2. what is your target bodyweight?
    3. any food allergies or "yuck!" foods?
    4. do you have access to kitchen with stove/oven or just microwave?
    5. list everything currently in your fridge/cupboard

    Seriously, this will be fun, it's something I'm actually quite good at doing, and I like it. So, offer's on the table.icon_wink.gif


    Five things (I don't know really what is being asked of me so I'm going to just list five foods I would buy at the store if I were to just walk in and pick something that I would think would help me gain weight in a healthy way):
    Chicken breast, cottage cheese, boxed pasta, rice (so bland), and tuna

    1. I left Denver now that school is over which means I don't have a job at home yet. I currently have about $50 to spend all summer (3 months!) icon_biggrin.gif
    2. Target for now is a meager 160lb. I'm always between 135-45
    3. I don't have any food allergies, but I can't stand mushrooms (and I just don't like salad or vegetables in general which is something I'm willing to get over)
    4. I have an entire kitchen to use during the summer. Fully stocked supply-wise.
    5. The tricky part. I'm home for the summer which means there's lots of random foods around, but I don't ever know what's being set aside for this or that family meal. Personally I don't have any "private" stash of food (I do have two tubs of EAS protein though)

    Good luck.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Jun 10, 2010 12:22 PM GMT
    LOL
    Okay...for reality's sake, can you tell me what your likely weekly food budget will be once you're back at school. Cuz' I'm having a little trouble thinking that you're going to eat for a semester off of $50.
    Are you going to be on a meal plan at school?

    You can do this, easy.

    r.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Jun 10, 2010 1:14 PM GMT
    I ate healthy and gained muscle all the way through graduate school on 20$-25$ a week. It's not easy, but you can do it and eat healthy.

    Big keys:

    1) Buy meat when its on sale and store it in the freezer. You can get chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound if you catch them at the right time.

    2) Remember that even when you're bulking on protein you still don't need as much as we sometimes think. Actually calculate it out and don't put 3 chicken breasts in when you need 1.

    3) Don't use them exclusively, but intersperse non-meat protein sources as their cheaper (i.e. beans and rice, tofu, edamame)

    4) Don't cook for the day. Cook in LARGE batches. It's MUCH cheaper. Put the other stuff in tupperware so you can pull out one meal's worth and put it in the microwave.

    5) Don't underestimate the power of mass bulkers. And by that I mean things that don't add a lot of caloric value but make you *feel* full. Make sure you have enough macronutrients then fill the rest with things like cabbage and such.

    6) Make things from scratch. Eating cheap and healthy is almost impossible with pre-prepped stuff. If that means learning to cook simple things, then so be it. You can cook most things you'll want to with a cast iron frying pan and a big saucepan.
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Jun 10, 2010 7:26 PM GMT
    DiverScience said
    5) Don't underestimate the power of mass bulkers. And by that I mean things that don't add a lot of caloric value but make you *feel* full.


    I'm pretty sure these would be the most destructive to my diet at this point. I do not need anything that will make me feel full. I never have any appetite!
  • FlashDrive

    Posts: 53

    Jun 10, 2010 7:30 PM GMT
    wrong! cook at home spent less than $100 per month for all the good healthy food, less processed food, better for you, imo.
  • coastguy90814

    Posts: 661

    Jun 10, 2010 7:47 PM GMT
    I'm not sure if it'll help gain tons of weight if that's your goal but eating well (if you mean healthy) is not expensive total MYTH. Now you may not eat fancy schmancy but here is a list of good quality healthy foods that are relatively inexpensive:

    Tuna
    Whole Wheat Bread
    Peanut Butter
    Apples
    Bagged Spinach/Bulk Spinach
    whole chickens (usually on sale and it just takes an hour and a half to bake!)
    Canned Beans (you can do so much with them)
    Eggs (again very versatile ;-) )
    Oatmeal (bulk is usually the least expensive, add raisins and one scoop of vanilla protein powder, delicious!)
    Whole Wheat Pita Bread/hummus
    Broccoli
    Frozen veggies (any kind)
    Yogurt (buy the low card kind if your store sells it, watch the sugar content)
    Talapia Fish (easy and quick to bake)
    trail mix
    protein bars (find the sales and buy then, watch sugar content

    Good luck...If I think of more I'll be back ;-)
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Jun 10, 2010 10:08 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidLOL
    Okay...for reality's sake, can you tell me what your likely weekly food budget will be once you're back at school. Cuz' I'm having a little trouble thinking that you're going to eat for a semester off of $50.
    Are you going to be on a meal plan at school?

    You can do this, easy.

    r.


    I'm going to have a different job than I have right now, so I really can't say at all. lol

    Let's just pretend I'll have $20/week since that's what it was at before I left school. I'm planning on having a limited meal plan that will let me eat on campus a select number of times a week since I don't think I'll be living on campus.

    I'm already hating this process because my job really is terrible and the pay schedule is bad so it just makes the entire food thing worse in my mind.