Living on your own seems like a fun, adult idea, until you realize you have to provide all your meals and figure out how to start eating on a budget. I'm living on my own for the first time this summer and decided I didn't want to end my summer crying from spending $100 a week on food. Thus I needed to figure out really quick how to eat on a budget. Here are some tips that I discovered to help with not wasting money and not always eating highly processed junk food.  

Piggy Bank

free pictures of money on Flickr

Tip #1: Meal Prep is your best friend.

I know it can be tedious, but it's also less expensive in the end and saves you time. By using a couple hours on whatever day you pick to meal prep (Sunday is the most practical day), you get to be lazy the other 6 days of the week. Also if you have extra ingredients you won't use, freeze it to use later so it stays good!  

Beware of enemy #1: the simplicity of going out to eat often or ordering food. It may be super easy to have someone prepare food for you while you sit and relax, but it's so much more expensive than making food for yourself. BUT after a week of meal prepping and budget-friendly recipes, feel free to get a meal one or two days at a reasonably priced restaurant. (Also check out Groupon for some really good deals at restaurants near you to help you stick to eating on a budget)

Tip #2: Make a list before you go food shopping + get a loyalty card.

It's best to know what you are getting prior to going food shopping to stick to your budget, but there is room for maybe one spontaneous purchase when you spot something on sale. Wherever you food shop, it's also best to get a loyalty or some type of customer card to get all the benefits that the store offers (especially when you're eating on a budget) Try to get the least expensive brand, unless the brand you are familiar with is less than a dollar more.

Tip #3: Keep it simple.

Choose simple recipes that don't require a lot of ingredients or supplies, which also means less time and money. A dish with 3 ingredients can still be just as flavorful as a recipe with ten. Here are some simple ideas for each meal:

Breakfast: eggs (SO cheap and versatile), peanut butter toast with banana, oatmeal, cereal

cereal, porridge, oatmeal, milk, sweet, muesli, oatmeal cereal, corn, granola, oat, cornflakes
Gabby Phi

Lunch: PB&J (childhood classic, but still good in adulthood), Pasta with any sauce, Rotisserie Chicken Salad 

peanut butter, peanut, sandwich, butter, bread, jam, jelly, bit, wheat, slice, pb&j, peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Caroline Ingalls

Dinner: Burrito Bowl, Fajitas (chicken+peppers+tortilla), Fried rice, Quesadillas

burrito, wheat, salsa, flour, cheese
Alexis Clark

Snacks: Try to buy snacks on sale or in bulk for it to be cheaper. Definitely try to incorporate some fruit though.

banana, apple, lemon, vegetable, pineapple, grape, aliment, grapefruit, pear
Jodi Graf

Supplies*: frying pan, mixing bowl, spatula, large wooden spoon, knife, cutting board

*Could go 2 ways with this: buy the cheapest one or splurge for something that costs slightly more and has more durable quality

Tip #4: Make your own coffee or tea (or try to drink less of either)

You will save so much money on coffee if you make it at home by using coffee grounds or purchasing a single-cup coffee machine. It can be quick to make and you can put it in a to-go cup if you need to leave for work. It would be even more cost-effective if you tried to bring down your caffeine obsession and consume it less.

mug, Chic, coffee, succulents, coffee mug
Arpitha Shenoy

Tip #5: Stick to Necessities 

It may be nice to have a latte everyday or ice cream after dinner every night, but that is what is draining your bank account! Once or twice a week is fine to treat yourself to something you've been craving, but any more than that is not how to successfully be eating on a budget. Also tip within a tip: even if you are one person, it's less expensive to buy a carton of ice cream than a small pint.

#blueprint #coffee, coffee, latte art, WUSTL
Charlotte Ohana

Tip #6: Find what works for you

These tips are all flexible, so use them with how it works into your schedule. Definitely research a variety of recipes and ways of meal prepping so you're not eating the same dishes every week. But now that you have my 5 tips on how to eat on a budget, you're ready to try it for yourself and put your own spin on it with what works for you!