Eat Like a Student, Save Hundreds

College Ernest S. Lunsford has been talking to the media lately about his money-saving ways. He has been giving interviews because he spends a paltry $35 a month on food, putting him well ahead of the game when it comes to keeping student loans and debt low. Most of us spend hundreds of dollars. His is not a regime of dumpster diving, coupons, or sales. It is about planning and careful spending. Here’s how he does it:

1) Reduce waste. Pendergast notes that even careful shoppers waste hundreds of dollars on uneaten and spoiled food each year. Eliminating this waste helps you go further on your grocery budget.

2) Find one free meal a day. Pendergast looks at fliers and posted at his college to find free meals or snacks offered by organizations. Many lectures, workshops, and school events include free snacks or food, which takes care of one meal for Pendergast each day.

3) Do it yourself. Pendergast makes his own bread and chili. He does not, obviously, dine out.

4) Reduce meat. Pendergast only eats meat when someone else pays for it (such as at those college events), because meat, pound for pound, is one of the most expensive foods to buy. Eating vegetarian or vegan can save dollars.

5) Keep tabs on your health. Pendergast used to use free online software to make sure that he was getting enough nutrients from his thrifty meals, but he stopped once he saw that he was getting enough of all nutrients.

6) Plan and think ahead. Budget carefully, compare grocery store prices on the items you need, and shop when a store is offering added discounts.

7) Buy in bulk. Pendergast shops at wholesale clubs and buys larger quantities of non-perishable items, such as rice, beans, and pasta. This allows him to save money per unit and avoid frequent trips to the store.

8) Use generic brands. Pendergast opts for generic or store-brand products instead of name-brand items. In many cases, the quality is the same, but the price is lower.

9) Freeze leftovers. Pendergast freezes any leftovers and uses them for future meals, reducing waste and providing quick and easy meals when he doesn’t have time to cook.

10) Drink water. Pendergast avoids buying expensive drinks and opts for water instead. He notes that many people spend a lot of money on beverages, which can add up quickly.

By following these simple tips, Pendergast is able to save a significant amount of money on his food expenses each month. While some of these strategies may not work for everyone, there are many ways to reduce food costs and eat on a budget. With a little planning and effort, it is possible to eat healthy and save money at the same time.