Living life on a budget is hard. I just started learning that in my first few weeks of college. I cannot be the only one who is constantly craving foods, but can't afford them because of the college budget!

Do you ever get tired of your college cafeteria making the same food over and over again? Do you ever get sick from it? Don't panic! There are so many ways to get inexpensive food less than a mile away.

I thought of this when my friend and I wanted to bake cookies, but we didn't have a baking sheet. We finally got out and looked around to realize all the inexpensive and fantastic food we've been missing out on. I'm a freshman at Clarion University and I am learning how to live this new life as well as teach it.

1. Buying Food from Local Restaurants

Samm Hillegass

In some colleges, nearby restaurants team up with the school to make cheaper options. My advice is to ask around, look it up on your school website, or find an adviser.

I know that my college has "Eagle Dollars" that we use with our ID cards. If we use this card in local restaurants, we get discounts. Also, be sure to pay close attention to big events happening where restaurants have sales for their food!

We had an event called ALF (Autumn Leaf Festival) and many local restaurants on main street had signs saying their food was on sale. Some said "buy one, get one 50% off" while others state, "the whole order would be 20% off."

2. Inexpensive Grocery Stores

farmer's market, Fresh, fruits, oranges, pears, bananas, pasture, apple
Caroline Ingalls

I found out when I moved to Clarion that some colleges don't have many stores nearby. Sometimes, it's better to go a bit further than a little down the the road to find a cheaper place.

Walmart: Everyone knows about Walmart. They have something called "The Name Your Price Tool" where if you find something cheaper in a different store or online, they will match the price. It is a great way to save even more money.

Aldi: They are known for being a discount store. The one near where I am is small, but there is a lot of food. When my friends and I went, there was a section for German candy. The most expensive food was around $6.50. That is surprisingly cheap for foreign food. They even had a lot of name brand food for less than $10 and I was so shocked.

Comet Food Warehouse: This is one of the best places I've ever gone to. I was scared because people have said it is dirty, but I was flabbergasted by how great it looked. There were so many options. They had a lot of off brand food, but it was really delicious. It was one of the most affordable places I've been to.

Local Farmer's Market: Local places will have local grown food which is tastier and usually cheaper. It also gets you outside and acquainted with the neighborhood.

3. Find Inexpensive Cookbooks

Samm Hillegass

It sounds like an easy task, but they're harder to find than you think. I went to a few antique stores with my friends in college where we found some old cookbooks for less than five bucks! I bought one and realized a lot of the ingredients were really inexpensive.

I found some great recipes in one that I'd love to make with my friends. Some of these include lasagna, dump cakes, and even chicken tacos. These recipes have inexpensive alternatives to buy that seem tasty.

I also bought a cookbook from Amazon a few months ago. It was only a little of ten dollars and is called "Epic Kitchen Adventures." It has been my lifesaver when it came to cheap food. There are small, simple recipes in this book. There are mug cakes, one-minute microwave pizza, healthy snacks, and so much more! The author, Raphael Gomes, even includes tips to make other recipes easier and inexpensive

Jina Kim

Honestly, the best way to save money is to be smart about it. Make sure to use these tips and find more of your own, but don't forget to have fun. Money may be low, but keep your expectations high in college!