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Last Updated on March 20, 2023


Like most questions, the plain truth is that it really depends on your situation.

Calculating the total amount of average students spend on their food can be quite a challenge since colleges, students, and meal plans greatly vary.

Besides college meals, it is common for students to spend some money either eating out off campus or on groceries. Eating out is a relatively expensive affair, and it’s tough for students to stick to budget since most of them are managing one for the first time. Besides spending money on the Big Mac in McDonald’s or Fried Chicken from Popeyes, they might also need to spend money on research paper writers or help with their math hw. College kids have more choices to make from deciding whether to write their own essays or googling  ‘write essay for me by‘. And, of course, one of the most important things to think about is how much money students spend on groceries. Usually, the phrase ‘student diet’ is associated with rather low-quality food, but is it really like that?

In fact, according to an excerpt from a popular writing brand, projected that about 44% of the food budget of the millennium populace goes to eating out.

On a practical basis, about $10 to $15 of our food budget goes to meals and drinks. Such alarming figures necessitate the need to make smarter choices as a college student.

Luckily though, food is one expense which you can ingeniously budget for. How then can you plan your food budget?

First and foremost, you can use a free budget template since there are plenty available online. Or you can turn to write for me assistance

Next, check out these few things you should keep in mind about groceries, meal plans, and eating out.  

Recommended Cooking Tools for College Students

What to Consider For Your College Meal Plan:


In general, the average eight-month meal plan costs an average of $4500, although this is a figure that can vary significantly on the given institution.

Usually, for the first one or two years, it is fundamental that students choose a meal, and this grows into a fixed-budget component of the college expenses.

Nonetheless, when selecting your meal plan at college, it is crucial that you consider several important things. You need to bear in mind the food which you buy out with your buddies or between your regular meals when establishing a supplementary budget for your food.

Numerous students might forget about this added food cost since they will probably spend much of the mealtime inside the school cafeteria as opposed to the local burger joint, particularly in the initial few years.

Some of the critical things worth considering when choosing the ideal meal plan include:  

  • Daily schedule and classes

It is not unusual for students to skip a few meals at the cafeteria. Numerous students skip a meal or two or subsequently grab a bite to go in between. For a student who thrives on the structure of your plans and life around three typical meals in a day, you might want to consider the highest tier meal plan.

  • Housing situation. 

What type of housing situation are you in? Are you living in a suite with access to a kitchen or a standard dorm-style setting? If you have access to a kitchen, you might want to consider a subsequently lower-tier meal plan and prepare a lot more meals at your home in your kitchen.  

  • Actual food cost per day

As earlier mentioned, an average meal plan of three meals per day costs $4500, meaning that it costs $18.75 per day for food. By calculating the total cost, you can clearly pinpoint where you can cut down your expenses.

Although $18 might not be as high for some individuals, by being frugal and effectively planning meals accordingly, it is easy for you to get a lower-level meal plan as well as make affordable grocery choices to cut down your daily meal costs.

What to Consider For a Supplementary Food Budget  

As a college student, if you make a choice not to buy a meal plan or you are subsidizing your standard college meal plan with an extra food budget, it is useful to bear in mind that which you need to allow or refrain from when working out your budget.

Such is fairly more variable compared to a meal plan which would be a customary aspect of your tuition costs. One of the ways you can come up with an ideal budget for your food costs is to check out the various estimate ranges as outlined on the official USDA website.

According to the USDA website, a typical college student will usually spend between $163 and $367 a month on food. This particular website avails different costs based on gender, as well as four distinct meal-plan estimate levels.

While these options are not ultimate, they can serve as a fantastic starting point. When you are considering your extra food budget, below are several things worth considering.

  • Take advantage of coupons! 

Who says college students can’t take advantage of loyalty programs and coupons? Surprisingly, there are numerous money-saving apps which can aid you in getting ideal food alternatives as well as locate coupons, sales, and great local deals.

  • Consider arranging meal preparation time 

To save time and money, you can experiment with various meal prep ideas. By planning money-saving meals beforehand, you can effectively get more organized and prepared.

What’s more, it will allow you to get the best deals, adequately consider coupons, as well as remain within your planned food budget.

  • Invest in economical, multi-purpose kitchen accessories.

Investing in multi-purpose, inexpensive kitchen gadgets like crock pots and pressure cookers can significantly help ease and simplify meal preparation. In essence, they are a great way of ensuring you are eating healthy on a budget.

  • Cut down your eating out expenses

For many college students, much of their social time is spent at food and drink-related events, gatherings, and parties. However, many often forget to include these expenses in their exclusive food budget.

How do you do so? One way is adding your ‘social/eating out’ costs in your entertainment budget. Alternatively, you can use either plan accordingly or add something extra considering that these events will probably assume the place of a few of your daily meals.

You need to bear in mind the food which you buy out with your buddies or between your regular meals when establishing a supplementary budget for your food. When you’re a college student struggling to make ends meet, you may have considered an alternative loan such as a title pawn to cover your expenses.


In summary, how much college students spend on food depends. Nonetheless, if you are meticulous in your quest to plan for your food budget, it is easy to cut down your overall food budget significantly; while still eating healthy.

Remember, how high or low your food budget depends on how often you attend parties/go out; as such, less eat outs mean a low food budget.

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