How to shop on a budget

For many students, weekly food budgets are low, causing students to prioritize what they want to buy. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Mary Watson Vergnolle | Reporter

Budgeting as a college student can be difficult, and with many fast-food restaurants less than a mile from campus, it can be very easy to deplete monthly budgets quickly. Although freshmen are required to purchase a meal plan on campus, many seek creative ways to add variety to their food without breaking the bank.

San Antonio freshman Olivia Bianco said she eats at the dining hall and off campus regularly. She said she sometimes finds it hard to eat healthy on campus while still having variety, and she thinks it’s important to know how to save money when grocery shopping.

“I think that you have to really look at all the different varieties of products and buy generic ones that you know will taste the same,” Bianco said. “It can be really hard to eat healthy in the dining hall while still trying to mix up the foods I eat each day. Learning what products to buy makes it easier to come up with simple recipes.”

Some students prefer heading to the dining hall rather than planning and preparing their own meals.

Houston freshman Emelia Buckalew said she enjoys the dining hall’s convenience and how she saves money on the items she needs from the store.

“I enjoy the dining hall during the week because it is convenient and a quick stop for me between classes. It is easy to grab lunch with friends, and it is something I am required to have so I might as well use it,” Buckalew said. “When I do need something from the store, I find it helpful to make a list of what I need and go when I have the time since it gets so busy. I want to learn how to make more meals for when I am off campus next year.”

Upperclassmen who don’t frequent dining halls as often, discover creative ways to stay on a budget while shopping for what they need. With endless recipes available on apps like Instagram and TikTok, some students are finding it easier to be creative with fewer ingredients.

Waco sophomore Blake Newman said learning how to cook freshman year made his life much easier once he left campus.

“Learning to cook definitely helped me save money when I moved off campus,” Newman said. “I also eat a lot healthier and learned how to form healthier habits when I cook for myself.”

Some places around campus that students frequent are H-E-B, Aldi, Target and Walmart. Bianco said she finds it easier to utilize curbside options at the grocery store, which she says keeps her from wandering around for things she may not need, helping her save money in the long run.

“I might as well purchase things in bulk or utilize H-E-B curbside, so I don’t have to mess with the store,” Bianco said. “When I do need to go somewhere or be back on campus for a class, curbside is super convenient and saves me so much time, something I know Baylor students can be short on especially near the end of the semester.”