Ideally, we would all pack our own lunch every day in an attempt to avoid spending the money we really don't have. In reality, early morning classes and late night study sessions can disrupt meal planning, and we end up buying food on campus. These meals can make an impact on your weekly budget, but they don't have to. There are plenty of meals available on campus that will leave your wallet and stomach satisfied.

To start, let's go through some tips to stick to your budget.

1. Save on drinks

In order to stick to a budget on campus, there are some rules to follow. First, even if you can’t bring lunch, do your best to bring a water bottle you can fill up on campus and save the need to buy a drink on campus.

Additionally, if you bring your reusable mug to a Hospitality location, your drink will only be charged for the cost of a small.

2. Don’t overeat

When we think of the lunches we make ourselves at home, it's not often we chow down on a meat and two sides. So, we don’t necessarily need that much on campus either.

Studies have shown that when given a larger portion size, we will eat more, even if our hunger is satiated by less. As appealing as a full meal may be at midday, you can save that money for a nice dinner.  

3. Plan ahead (even a little)

Even if you don't have time to throw together a homemade lunch, some slight preparation can help you to save money.

You can check out the weekly menus on the University of Guelph Hospitality website here so you can choose a meal without being tempted by the overwhelming options when you arrive. Aim to buy lunch at "off-peak" times, aka in the middle of a class time slot rather than directly before or after class. That way you can give yourself more time to hunt for inexpensive options. 

And now, what you all came for—your $5 lunches:

1. Salad bars

Fiona Cashell

For a light lunch that you can customize, aim for salad bars. They are charged by weight so as long as you aim for lighter items, you will be able to have a delicious combination of veggies and protein.

Cost: $1.40 per 100 grams

2. Soup and bread

bread, banana, chocolate
Fiona Cashell

A small soup plus a slice of bread and butter from the UC will cost you less than $5 while being the perfect comfort food on a rainy day.

Cost: $2.75 for a small soup and $0.80 per 100 grams of bread.

3. Leftover pizza

If you take a peek at the fridge where sushi is stored in the UC, you can often find individually wrapped pizza slices at a discounted price. There’s nothing wrong with the food, it just supposedly isn't fresh enough to sell at full price.

Hey, if you don’t have an issue with cold pizza at home, then save your cash and pick up a slice here (and you can always heat them up at the microwave by Subway).

Cost: Varies based on toppings, usually around $3.50.

4. Bagels at Tim Horton’s

bagel, cheese
Fiona Cashell

The Tim Horton’s located in MacNaughton has recently been upgraded from a location with a handful of sandwiches to a fully functioning Tim Horton’s.

If you’re sticking to a budget though, you probably won’t be picking up any of the new menu items. Stick with a classic lunch of a bagel and coffee.

Cost: A medium tea or coffee and a bagel with cream cheese will cost you $4 at our favourite Canadian joint.

5. Bob's Dogs

A photo posted by Daniel Schiffer (@znqt) on

The man, the myth, the legend. Bob's Dogs operates all year so you can enjoy the hot dogs, music, and Bob's personality all year long. Feast to your heart's content!  

Cost: Hot dogs are only $3.50, and sausages are $4.50 (plus a smile, of course).

There you have it—my top recommendations for a tasty budget friendly meal. There are definitely more combinations out there so be sure to explore all the delicious eateries Guelph has to offer. Enjoy your cheap eats Gryphons, you deserve it.