How to eat on a college budget

Because we have this other thing called ‘tuition’

Grabbing a bite to eat in college is one of the most satisfying things I can think of. You’re together with a couple of friends at a local establishment and the conversation seems to flow endlessly.

It’s also one of the most expensive things I can think of. I guarantee that if I checked my bank account, 80 percent of recent purchases would be sourced to Qdoba. (Note: article not sponsored in any way by Qdoba.)

So how do we fix this crisis? The word “budget” is a scary and gross word, but there are ways you can go about saving money and enjoying those calories at the same time.

The ONE thing that I see people do wrong when eating out is opting for any drink other than water. The way I see it, unless you’re getting a margarita from Fuzzy’s, you should be getting water 99 percent of the time. If the price difference doesn’t convince you, then maybe the calories will. Remember: EAT your calories, don’t drink them.

I would also suggest you open up your counter drawer right now and count the number of coupons you have lying around. Right now, I can spot about three Pluckers coupons that aren’t expired and haven’t been used. Maybe you’re not a huge Pluckers fan, but I’ll tell you right now, I’m down to eat anything if I get a good deal.

This ties into the use of coupon apps such as GroupOn and UT Eats. You might not get first pick on where to eat, but you’re bound to find something you’re down for at any given time. If not, just check back later. I used to pick on my dad for taking my family out to eat wherever there was a GroupOn available. Now I think: why not? You’re getting the same quality food for a cheaper price. Plus, we’re college students – we’re not allowed to be picky.

I also want to bring up the use of food delivery apps such as Favor and Postmates. Obviously, the price of delivery is counterintuitive to the whole “budget” conversation. However, I recently used a friends’ Postmates code for one free delivery. I paid the wholesale price of a meal, but everything else was free.

The real kicker is that every time my friend gives a new user her code, she gets money off on her deliveries. As of now, she has about $150 in free deliveries sitting in her account.
For someone like me who needs constant variety, this can be a great way to save travel money while still getting a good meal in.

As you can see, there are plenty of tactics to saving money. These are all pretty intuitive and easy to pick up once you get your priorities straight. Every time I eat out, my wallet lets out a small little sigh. However, with the implementation of these little tips and tricks, the sigh has become more of a suppressed whimper.

UT Austin