How You Can Eat Healthy This Semester Without Breaking The Bank

Raise your hand if you’re sick of gaining the “Freshman 15” every. single. year. Even after freshman year, a year later when the school year starts, weight gain is inevitable. We’ve all been there, and we all tell ourselves each and every fall, “This year is different. I’ll eat healthy. I’ll work out.” And every year, that fails within a matter of a few short weeks. The biggest reason? Healthy food is EXPENSIVE. And it is so much more convenient to stop at the Taco Bell on campus than run home to make something healthy.

But it’s time to put our metaphorical foot DOWN. I know that I’m tired of gaining weight every school year, and I know I’m not the only one! That’s why I’ve compiled this budget-friendly grocery list for all college students with a desire to eat better.

Breakfast foods:

Homemade oatmeal – (Rolled Oats, Honey, 2% Milk) $13

Eggs – $1.60

Hash browns/Hash brown patties – $2

Assorted fruit – $2-10

We all know too well the daily struggle with our snooze button. We plan to wake up early enough to make ourselves look presentable, AND eat a good breakfast. We also know that 9 times out of 10, we’ll end up sleeping in a little bit, and end up rushing out the door without breakfast.

So, these breakfasts are set up to be quick and easy. Make your own oatmeal instead of buying it pre-packaged (you’ll save MEGA calories). I know that $13 seems like a lot for oatmeal. But that’s for a huge canister of oats, a gallon of milk, and a bottle of honey. That will last you an entire month. To add variety in the morning, you can make eggs and hash browns too. I know hash brown patties aren’t necessarily the healthiest things out there, but they’re damn good, and you DO need some amount of fat in your diet. And on the days that you really can’t make breakfast, have fruit handy so you can munch on your way to class.

Lunch foods:

Sandwiches – (Bread, Peanut Butter, Jelly) $8.39

Spinach salad – (Spinach, Grapes, Feta Cheese, Vinaigrette) $10.28

I know this sounds bland, but stick with me. This is only what I eat for lunch if I DON’T have leftovers from dinner. Both of these meals take a matter of two minutes to prepare, and they are so easy to slip into your backpack before you leave for school. And then, no microwave required. You can swap out other kinds of lettuce for the spinach, but I like spinach the best. This salad is so easy, but oh so tasty. And feel free to get creative with the salad, so you don’t get sick of it! Pick out different fruits and vegetables to mix in it. You can swap out the sandwich for any kind that you like. Just keep in mind that it IS bread, so you’ll want to plan on it not being your staple meal every day!

Dinner foods:

Rice & Beans – (White rice, pinto beans, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, flour tortillas) $17.96

Chicken thighs – $10

Assorted frozen vegetables – $6

Assorted fresh vegetables – $5 – $10

Dinner is easy. If you always buy whatever chicken is the cheapest/on sale, you won’t have to spend very much on meat. And then make sure you always have a stock of stir-fry vegetables in your freezer. You can make chicken Stir-Fry, Chicken Pot Pie, Roasted Chicken with a salad/Roasted Brussel Sprouts, or whatever kind of vegetables tickles your fancy.

Keep a Pinterest board of easy dinner recipes. If you have a simple starch (rice or potatoes), a protein (chicken or beans), and then some vegetables, you can make any number of healthy dinners in less than 30 minutes. And then you have leftovers to bring for lunch tomorrow!

Total cost of groceries per week is about $22 dollars. Just go shopping every 3-4 weeks to keep everything replenished. I promise this is way less expensive than eating out 5-10 times a week. Although you’re handing over more money all at once, you’ll be spending less over the course of a month!

*All prices are based on prices from Walmart.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or boring. I know this list isn’t extensive, but it’s definitely a wonderful starting point if you’re just getting into changing your diet. Start here, and then once you know what you like, branch out and try other healthy recipes!

Featured image via Trang Doan on Pexels


  1. Super helpful to have a menu like this! The struggle is real when eating healthy with a fixed amount of money! What I do is every once in awhile I’ll be organized and create an excel spreadsheet of incoming money and where I spend my money at, so I can budget for healthy food and going out food. I also check for happy hours at places to get cheap alcohol and budget for more healthy meals!


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