How to Eat Gourmet Food on A Ramen Noodle Budget!

While I was living in the dorms with no job, I actively craved my mom’s homemade food and baked goods. Whether it was brownies, steak, pork chops, anything all I wanted and thought about was having my moms food and would jump for joy every time I went home! Even once I got a job serving at Applebee’s, I still wasn’t making enough money to make the meals my mom would. Being in North Dakota, the server wage is just garage at 4.83 an hour. When I worked at the Applebee’s in my hometown I was making $10 an hour serving, so having a $6 pay cut was no bueno for me. I also didn’t make the best tips being in a college town so between university cafe food and ramen noodles, I needed a change and QUICK!

At this time, this is when I learned a word from my mom and how it will impact my wallet and life forever. That word, was budgeting! You have definitely seen this word scattered all over my blog and I try my best to live and breath this word everyday. When I was home one day my mom gave me some of her doomsday supply of food (just kidding it’s not that bad, I know she’s reading this so love you and thanks for being the inspiration for 97% of my topics) and how to afford and live on a means to where I could afford to make such delicious food. So here is a comprehensive list of the things I did to eat delicious food on a college student budget!

  1. Check out What Grocery Items Are at Your University
    1. Instead of buying snacks consistently, I checked out the university grocer in our dining hall and saw so many ingredients I could get for free with my dining dollars! They have so many basic grocery items like eggs, milk, juice, and so many other fridge accessories! I was able to make a delicious breakfast whenever I wanted to without having to walk a mile to the dining center (of course I lived in the dorm the farthest away from the best dining center on campus). I was able to make a ham and cheese omelet with some ham I sneaked in a small cup out of the cafeteria, and I purchased some cheese and eggs and milk (under $5 for everything) and I was able to make 6 omelets! I usually just make 2 egg omelettes with lots of fillings, so 2 eggs is more than enough.
  2. Use and Abuse that Cafeteria!
    1. When I was living on campus and going to the cafeteria daily, I tried to stack up as much as I could! We weren’t allowed to take food out of the cafeteria except after 8 p.m. (which is silly if you ask me) so I never ate at the cafeteria after like 3 pm unless a friend invited me. By that time, I had a huge breakfast and a giant lunch so I never was hungry, but I usually had a snack around 9:30, about an hour before I went to sleep.
    2. To get food out of the cafeteria, I always tried to sneak 2-3 Tupperware containers into my backpack. I emptied out my backpack before hand so I had extra room! I also took advantage of creamers, salt and pepper packs, condiment packs, and salad toppings all alike. I also got my extra burger patties, sandwich meats and sides that looked delicious at the time. I had a mini fridge/freezer at the time so I kept everything fresh! I did this for 2 years and if I could, I still would, so if you still can, DO THIS!
  3. Make only 1- 2 Portions
    1. It took me a while to figure out how to do make meals for just myself, (and when my fiance was still my boyfriend) so learning how to cook just one serving was one of the hardest parts! When my mom was gone on a trip, and it was just my dad and my sister, I usually cooked dinner (otherwise it would be going out to dinner) and I that was usually 3-4 people. If you aren’t sure how to make a 4 portion meal to 1 portion, all you have to do is ¼ the recipe. If you don’t know how to adjust the measurements, just look up a conversion guide!
  4. Check out Farmers Markets
    1. Even in a smaller town, there is almost always a farmers market! The one in Grand Forks is every Saturday and if you go later, merchants are usually trying to get rid of remaining product, so you can sometimes get items cheaper! There are so many other delicious items you can get like jellies, honey, handmade snack mixes, and so much other delicious food!
    2. I’m not sure if other universities have this as well, but our farmers market inside an old rail car and they bring it to campus weekly when the farmers market is active. If your university does something like this, check out your union or any other popular locations on campus and you may just see it! I always LOVED when the train car came to campus because I could run back to my dorm, get some reusable bags and stock up without having to drive downtown!
  5. Watch out for Sales!
    1. Sales, sales sales! If you have been on my blog for a little bit you have seen this word PLASTERED all over my blog. This is one of my favorite words and when you look for sales, you can eat that steak on a ramen budget! Meat markets and local grocers usually have the best deals on meat and other ingredients, especially when you add coupons to the mix! I called and asked my local meat market if I could receive their ad (email or physical form) so I could keep up to date! Hugo’s in Grand Forks is always having amazing sales and you can pair those sales with the coupons they provide in their app! See if your local grocer or even meat locker has an app and keep up to date with new products and even better deals! I made this Chicken Parmesan for under $20 dollars and I made so much extra so I could have leftovers for a day or two! The chicken, mozzarella, and Parmesan were on sale at Hugo’s and I had all the other ingredients, which were pantry staples such as oil, marinara, Italian seasoning, eggs and flour! With all these ingredients to make 5 portions, it only cost me $4 to make per portion, which is surely cheaper than those wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, and probably more delicious anyway!


Chicken Parmesean Photo (College Food)


That’s all you for today! I hope these tricks help you save some serious moolah and also help afford that beautiful T-Bone steak! Is there anything you think I missed or that you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below! If you like what you have been reading lately, push that subscribe button so you will get all my blog postings right away!


Thanks for reading everyone!

-Bre 🙂

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