Cooking Meals on a Student Budget

Living on a student budget does not have to mean surviving on 2 Minute Noodles and peanut butter sandwiches day in and day out. There are ways to make your budget stretch and allow for the inclusion of healthy meals.



  1. Dinner Roster – If you are sharing a house with other students consider setting up a dinner roster. Get together and decide who will cook dinner which day of the week; breakfast, lunch & weekends can be allocated as “fend for yourself” time. You could set a budget for meals e.g. each person spends R100.00 on the ingredients for their meal but there must be enough food to feed everyone who is on the roster. Alternatively you could all put money into a “dinner kitty” and each person is then issued with pre-set amount for their cooking day, receipts must be handed in and change returned to the kitty. The roster will require some discipline, you can’t make plans to eat out on the night you are scheduled to cook, don’t sign up for a day you know you are at college late.
  2. Food Specials – If you are sharing a house or have friends who are also living away from home consider splitting the cost on food specials, for example when Fruit & Veg City / Food Lover’s Market / Woolworths have a special on say a pocket of potatoes, a pocket of onions and a pocket of butternut for R50.00, this is great value but far too much produce for a single person so split the cost and the produce.
  3. Compare Prices – Shop around and compare prices. This doesn’t mean having to schlep from one shop to the next, you can easily do it online by visiting the various retailers websites or even making use of online comparison sites such as
  4. Cook & Freeze – If you have access to a freezer consider cooking meals in bulk over the weekend and then freezing them. That way you need only take out a pre-made meal in the morning for defrosting and warming it up to eat when you get home. Bulk cooking also means you save because there is less wastage, especially if you live on your own.
  5. Convenience Costs – Although it may be easier to just buy a ready made meal or a packet of chips and some bread rolls, conveniences like these come at a price i.e. monetary, nutritional and health. The average college student’s day is very demanding and most times does not end when you walk off campus. It’s important that you consider what food your body and your brain needs to keep fuelled and healthy.



Google is your friend when it comes to finding easy, cheap & cheerful recipes to make on a student budget. All you need do is search keywords such as: healthy cheap meals / college student recipes / easy cheap recipes / easy ramen noodle recipes (ramen noodle = 2 Minute Noodles) – the combinations are endless as are the results that will come up.

Some examples of sites you may want to visit:

Alternatively, if you have a spare R20.00 a month you could consider buying the Pick n Pay: Fresh Living magazine which includes monthly segments such as:

  • {5 Ways with…} – each month a particularly South African ingredient is featured in 5 easy, cheap recipes e.g. 5 Ways with Boerewors, 5 Ways with Pilchards, 5 Ways with Amasi…you get the idea.
  • …On a Shoestring – provide you with a weeks worth of budget friendly, nutritious recipes together with a cost breakdown per portion and in total.

You can also access recipes via the Pick n Pay: Fresh Living webpage –

 Don’t know how to cook?:


Not a problem! That is what the Internet and YouTube were invented for! There are hundreds of sites and videos available online that will teach you the basics, step-by-step for everything from boiling an egg to roasting a chicken. If you don’t have Internet access, start watching cooking programmes on tv, your house mates / mom, or be brave and start experimenting out of your own.

Some examples of cooking skills websites:

Follow BMH Student Wellness on Pinterest for more ideas & tips on Cooking Student Meals on a Budget:

 *Disclaimer: Neither the author of the Boston Media House Student Wellness Blog, nor Boston Media House, nor any of its staff were compensated in any form in exchange for the products / websites / information provided in this blog post. 


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