College students and ramen go hand in hand. Why? Ramen is about the cheapest “dinner” you can buy and college students are poor. But seriously, how much ramen can you possibly eat? I remember buying 15 or so packages when I first moved into my apartment so I could save money and the same night went out to eat because I could not bring myself to eat ramen. So what’s my point? My point is, cheap food doesn’t have to be bad food. Besides, college students aren’t the only ones watching their wallets when it comes to eating in this economy. I have put together a few simple meals that won’t break the bank.
(My prices and items come from Walmart -sure, there may be cheaper stores, but I know everyone has a Walmart nearby…for now at least)
Hot Dogs and Beans – It’s a classic, simple, easy to prepare meal that will run you about $1.02 or $1.48 per portion depending on if you want pork and beans or baked beans (if you’re going with pork and beans, I suggest Campbell’s – only 50 cents and way better tasting than others). That’s 2 hot dogs with buns and an entire can of beans. Now that’s a good deal. This meal is easy to do if you’re single, because no food needs to be thrown away or reheated. Just make what you need.
Hot dogs and Mac and Cheese – Maybe you’re not a bean person. You can substitute the can of beans for some mac and cheese. The box of mac which I priced at 68 cents is the thick and creamy variety. There is a cheaper version, but it wasn’t priced at my particular Walmart, but I have bought it before and I recall it being around 33 cents. To be sure though, I went with the thick and creamy because I could see that price tag. Even so, you won’t be eating the whole box yourself, so two hot dogs with buns and half of the mac and cheese will run you 86 cents per portion. (You’d have to add the milk and butter, but the amount is really not worth calculating. Maybe a few cents for the small amount you need). This is a good choice for two people or more, since you can always add another box of mac in the mix.
Spaghetti – Here is a great and simple idea. Spaghetti with tomato sauce or alfredo sauce would cost you about $1.25 per portion, but the amount you buy is more than enough for two people.
Frozen Alfredo Meal – There is a frozen bag of alfredo in the freezer section. It’s called “Birds Eye Voila! Alfredo Chicken”. I picked it up one day when I was lazy and I return to it a lot. It’s a decent price, easy to prepare, and tastes really good. The family size one is enough for at least three hearty portions. If you divided it by three, the amount per portion runs $2.25 a meal, which is pretty darn good!
There are many more tasty meals you can make and still keep money in your wallet. Just remember to cook at home – eating out may be easy, but it is going to be more expensive. Also, when shopping, be sure to look on the bottom shelves. Almost all the items I priced on here I found on the bottom shelves. Eye level is where they place expensive and brand name things. Also it never hurts to use coupons on things you are already buying. If you haven’t tried ibotta yet, I suggest you take a look!