College is difficult. Not only do you have enormous loads of schoolwork, research, work and social activities, but then you have to eat. The easy thing to do of course is to run through a drive through, but that adds up real fast and you're a college kid so you're broke. The best option is to cook, but it still requires time and money. Here are some ways to make cooking in college easier and more cost effective.
1. Plan Your Meals
I typically plan on making about 3 meals a week and then eating left overs and wraps for my other meals. Planning keeps me from buying a ton of extra ingredients that I won't end up using, and it also helps me buy the products I do need to make dinner.
2. Make a List
Don't go into a grocery store without knowing what you are there for. You will buy six bags of chips and no actual ingredients to make meals with. Trust me, I have done it. Instead, pull out the recipes for the meals you want and write down the ingredients you need. Also leave yourself a little room in the budget to make the impulsive decision to buy goldfish and capri-suns because they are BOGO.
3. Get a Crock-Pot
Crock pots make life so much easier. You can throw in the ingredients and go do work and boom hours later you have a meal that you basically put no effort into making, yet still tastes incredible. You can get a good one from Target or Walmart for roughly $30.
4. Get a Toaster Oven
We got a toaster oven this year and it is the best thing ever. It heats up so much faster then a regular oven and leaves our dinosaur chicken nuggets extra crispy. You can find them from around $15-$20 at Walmart and Target.
5. Buy Tortillas
Tortillas are a staple food at our apartment because they are so wonderful and versatile. You can use them for burritos, quesadillas, chicken nugget wraps and so much more. Wraps are just inherently better than sandwiches, so buying tortillas means you're more likely to eat lunch at home.
6. Don't Buy Vegetables Without a Plan
I love veggies, so I used to buy them thinking I would find something to do with them only to have them go bad because I didn't have time to cook them, anything to cook them with or just forgot I had them. Don't waste your money on vegetables that will ultimately go bad. Instead, plan how and when you are going to cook them before you buy them.
7. Shop the Sales
Publix always has really good sales, so if you are willing to patiently wait for your favorite items, you can get them at a better price. Publix also does BOGO boneless skinless chicken breasts about once every month or two, so look out for the sale and buy it up and freeze what you won't use that week.