Trail mix is the potluck of healthy, recycled foods: just throw a smorgasbord of pantry delicacies into a bowl, mix, and *boom* a delectable treat fit for a hungry college student is born.

Sadly, for many college students, we don’t have access to the glorious pantry we are accustomed to at home. All of our money goes to… let’s say, textbooks. At best, we scrap together enough cash for ramen. But never fear. Using only products sold at CVS, I’m going to show you how to make amazing, delicious trail mix for under $20.

My Broke-Ass College Student Trail Mix recipe is made up of three main components: the cereal, the nuts, and the dried fruit.

The Cereal

Trail Mix

Photo by Kasey Marcum

While nuts are widely considered to be the main component in trail mix, we just can’t afford to buy containers and containers of tasty, lightly salted nuts. We need a new body to the trail mix, so I propose cereal. We can’t use just any cereal though.

For a fibrous, low cholesterol and low sugar cereal, I recommend the CVS Gold Emblem Whole Grain Toasted Oat Cereal. At only $2.99 a box, this cereal has no fat, no cholesterol, and only 1g of sugar.

If you want to combine the cereal and some of the nut and dried fruit components, Post Great Grains Selects Raisins Dates & Pecans Cereal is the best option. Slightly more expensive than the other option, at $4.79 a box, but we can afford to splurge a little.

The Nuts

Trail Mix

Photo courtesy of

What’s trail mix without the nuts? Even though we can’t afford to make it the star of the recipe, nuts provide the protein fix that’ll keep you full for longer (or until your next handful). While it is easy to believe that the only affordable nut option is peanuts, there are a couple of alternative nut choices.

We can knock out the nut and dried fruit categories by getting CVS Gold Emblem Abound Berries & Nut Clusters, only $3.49 a bag. For pure nuts, we have the options for CVS Gold Emblem Mixed Nuts (unsalted or lightly salted) at only $5.99 for the 10 oz container. This way, we have more than just typical peanuts in our trail mix, but a nice variety too.

The Dried Fruit

Trail Mix

Photo courtesy of

For a texture change, we need to add some dried fruit. The cheap way is to find some raisins. CVS Gold Emblem California Raisins is our best priced option, $3.59 for the 18oz container. But we are better than raisins… Raisinets California Raisin Milk Chocolate Candy elevates our palate at only $4.39 per 11oz container.

Optional: The Chocolate (Or yogurt)

Trail Mix

Photo by Mike Mozart

At last, my favorite part of trail mix. The reason why all of my trail mix at the end of the day is reduced to only peanuts. There is such a big variety of M&Ms that any shareable (8oz) bag will do. Choose your favorite M&M type for $3.99.

And finally, adding up all of the most expensive options: $4.79 + $5.99 + $4.39 + $3.99 = $19.16 for an amazing trail mix creation that you can take anywhere, all week.