From Aldi in Fredonia:
Whole chicken – $7.50
Dried pinto beans – $2.50
Pack of jasmine rice – $4
Green peppers – $2.50
Mixed-color peppers – $2.50
2 jars of organic peanut butter – $7 ($3.50 each)
Tub of cashews – $12
2 dozen organic eggs – $7 ($3.50 each)
Spinach – $2.50
[Other things I buy that I didn’t need this week: Tub of oats ($2), canola oil ($1.80), olive oil ($3.30), dried black beans ($2.50), Jar of local honey from the farmer’s market($7), Kerrygold butter ($4).]
Each Sunday I prepare all my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the upcoming week (I’ve written about my nutrition routine here). Food prep on Sundays takes me 2-3 hours, but the time spent is more than paid back: I do not need to think about what I’m going to eat that week, I don’t risk making bad food choices, and I don’t need to spend an hour each day on a “lunch break,” spending $7 ($35/week!!) on lunch alone.
Assuming my costs stay around $200/month, my food budget is half of what most colleges charge for a meal plan. I’m spending $1,000 less per semester than you are (or $8,000 over the course of four years).
This isn’t to say that meal plans aren’t a good option for some people, but that for the disciplined student, “Sunday food prep” is a much better option.
That $8,000 can be used to pay off loans, open a retirement account, and generally start a secure financial future (more on this here).