Last year you could say I was ~over~ the dining hall, and ranting about its monotonous, cringe-worthy foods was a frequent pastime.  But after living in my apartment for almost two months, I miss the ease, convenience and cheapness of the dining hall, because apartment dining and feeding myself is not an easy task.

Between class, work and club meetings, I barely have time to sit down and breathe, much less make a meal. Not to mention the overwhelming feeling of entering Jewel and being completely clueless as to what to buy. Luckily, I've found a few hacks and tips to help get by, reduce waste and save money. 

1. Reuse leftover bread.  

Jamie Gentges

Never buy breadcrumbs or croutons again! Use a food processor or cheese grater to crumble bread, and then bake it in the oven for homemade breadcrumbs. Use this to coat fish and chicken, or add it to pasta for some texture.  Cube old bread, drizzle with oil and season for simple croutons. What could've ended up in the trash can save you a few bucks at the grocery store and add to your next meal. 

2. Buy almond milk instead of regular milk. 

milk, tea, water
Alex Frank

I was both disheartened and disgusted one morning when I went to put milk in my cereal and noticed it separating and producing curds, even though I had bought it within the week. My roommates and I have found that almond milk lasts longer in the fridge. If you buy it unsweetened, you can't even tell the difference. While it lacks the high level of vitamins and dairy, almond milk contains less calories. Now you'll have an excuse to eat more cheese to get your vitamin D. 

3. Keep salad fixings around.

Jamie Gentges

Quick. Easy. Healthy. Versatile.  You can't go wrong with tossing together a quick salad. For variety, keep around a couple different types of dressings and/ or cheeses. 

#SpoonTip: Mix up your meals by turning your salads into wraps. That way you get a new meal with only one extra ingredient! 

4. Try out these multi-purpose wraps.

Jamie Gentges

A six-pack of multi-grain flatbreads found at Aldi changed the way I eat. For only a few dollars, these handy flats can be used for sandwich wraps, flatbread pizzas and even cut up and baked into pita chips. Ingredients that can be used for many different meals are key. 

5. Eat a fruit bar when you're feeling unhealthy.

Jamie Gentges

At my apartment we have a "community shelf" of food we don't want, for anyone to have. Which is where I discovered Pressed by KIND fruit bars. Made solely with fruit and vegetables, these bars provide you two whole servings of fruit. It's perfect for an on-the-go college lifestyle or for someone who doesn't have enough time to eat produce before it goes bad. 

6. Wash fruit and keep it in containers. 

juice, gooseberry, berry, pasture, grape
Naib Mian

It's hard to eat fruits and veggies when you know they're just going to end up rotting or molding in your fridge by the end of the week. My roommates have discovered that by washing produce and putting it in a sealed storage container in the fridge immediately after purchasing helps extend their longevity. Also, consider buying longer lasting fruits like apples and grapes versus berries. 

7. Buy block cheese in place of multiple types.

slices, pepper jack, cheese, milk, dairy product, dairy
Caroline Ingalls

Rather than buying block, sliced and shredded just buy the block to save money. Blocks are usually cheaper and can be used to make both sliced and shredded cheese. You can pick up a cheese grater for around $3 at the store. It'll pay itself off and is definitely worth it.

If all else fails in your apartment eating, there's no shame in going on a Chipotle run after a long day, you deserve it! Try your best to find versatile, lasting products, and don't be afraid to experiment with the ingredients you have to mix up your meals. You can even check out this apartment checklist or grocery list for foodies and college students. Good luck out there!