Everyone in college is pretty much broke; but if you are a struggling student or just simply looking to cut back financially on food, then here is your answer!
I have been vegan for about a year now. You might wonder how that has anything to do with eating cheap, but it does. There are literally zero vegan or vegetarian options in my town. Thus, to be vegan, I am pretty much forced to make every meal I eat from scratch. I should go ahead and point out now that this is not a complaint, because I love to cook, but it is an adjustment to never even have the option to eat out. Despite that fact that everyone and their mother has said to me: "I'd love to be vegan but its just too expensive"; a vegan diet is actually very affordable.
The key to affordably eating vegan is to planning ahead. Each week, I plan out pretty much every meal I am going to eat so that I know exactly what to buy at the grocery store. This premeditated action prevents me from strolling and purchasing unnecessary items.
Here's my grocery list for this week: whole wheat spaghetti noodles, brown rice, spinach tortillas, garlic, black beans, carrots, Brussel sprouts, spinach, tomato sauce, and soy sauce.
On Sunday night, I will prepare the rice in a large pan with a lid (so that it can be stored easily).
Monday night I will reheat a serving of rice with soy sauce on the stove and steam the Brussel sprouts and carrots with olive oil. I usually chop garlic to throw in with the rice. Once everything is done and combined in a bowl, I top it with sweet Thai chili sauce if I have some in the fridge.
Tuesday night I will reheat another serving of rice, sometimes adding jalapenos or hot sauce. Recently, I have been adding vegan mayo to the black beans and then combining it with the rice. Once it is hot, I pour the mix into a tortilla or two, depending on the tortillas size, and roll them into burritos. I usually eat a salad with nuts and black beans on nights that I don't have vegetables in my main dish.
On Wednesday night, I will cook the noodles in another large top-able pan. I will sauté a serving of the noodles with soy sauce and fix the veggies from Monday, again, in the same way. The noodles are good with sweet Thai, as well, but I'm biased because it's probably my favorite sauce ever.
Thursday night I will sauté a serving of noodles in olive oil and heat up some tomato sauce on the stove and season it to taste. I will combine the two in a bowl and add chopped garlic. I will probably eat a salad with carrots and nuts, as well.
On nights that I have spaghetti, I usually make an extra serving because I like to wrap the spaghetti with tomato sauce up in a tortilla. That, and a salad, will probably be dinner for Friday night.
This grocery list guarantees for five nights of fresh, healthy, vegan, meals. However, I usually have extra noodles, rice, tortillas, and veggies that I will add to my breakfast and lunch meals. This system secures homemade meals every night, which can gradually improve overall physical health, as well as saving the bank account.