Tag Archives: budget

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 PriceCheck.co.za
  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 – http://www.picknpay.co.za/freshliving

 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:  https://www.pinterest.com/bostonmediahous/

 *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. 



Being a student is expensive and with pressure from your parents, sponsors, or yourself to do well and pass each year, it isn’t always feasible taking on part-time or weekend work in order to supplement your income.

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Whether you’re a trust-fund baby or personally paying off a student loan creating and sticking to a budget is not only the responsible thing to do but the smart way of coming to grips with the costs of being an adult.

What is a Budget?:

A budget is a form of financial planning which involves tracking the movement of your money into and out of your banking account / wallet. The purpose of having a budget is to help you identify your expenses, plan for shortfalls and detect poor or wasteful spending habits that you may not be aware of.

Budgeting isn’t particularly fun but once you get started and with a little practice it does become easier.

How to Set Up a Budget:

Step 1: Find a budget planner/spreadsheet/app

You can download free budget planners, spreadsheets and apps. Basically a budget planner or spreadsheet provides you with a visual breakdown of all your incomes vs. your expenses and what you are (or aren’t) left with at the end.


Step 2: Track your expenses

Tracking each and every expense may sound a little OTT, but it’s easy to do if you save all your receipts or carry a notebook with you and note down each purchase you make. The purpose of doing this is so that you can track every cash, EFT, credit or debit card purchase you make and thus identify what you are spending your money on.

  • Get a notebook or use your cell phone – have it with you whenever you go out or do Internet banking
  • Note it down – every time you spend money, make a note of it: what (exam pad) / when (22.05.15) / amount (R19.99), also remember to start asking for receipts with every purchase you make.
  • Add it all up – add up your expenses for the month and capture them on your budget planner under the correct category (see Step 3 for categories)

Step 3: Start budgeting

Collect all your receipts and statements (student loan, credit card, store cards, bank) and start filling in your budget spreadsheet – only include items which you are personally paying for out of your bank account. Categories you should consider include:

  • Income – this refers to money you have either saved or earned e.g. income for vacation or weekend work, part-time jobs, parental contributions, scholarships / bursaries – any money that you do not have to pay back.
  • Student Loans – if you have a student loan that you are personally paying back, then enter it here.
  • School Expenses – this includes tuition fees, textbooks, study supplies
  • Living Expenses – rent, groceries, toiletries, Internet connectivity, laundry, cell phone etc.
  • Transportation – car loan, car insurance, petrol, taxi fare.
  • Health – prescriptions, vitamins, hospital plan, medical aid, gym membership.
  • Personal – gifts, special occasions, eating out, entertainment, clothing.

Once you have filled all your income and expenses in you will be able to see a) whether or not you are making ends meet based on what you have available to spend and b) where you may need to start cutting back.

Budgeting Tips & Things to Remember:

  • Consider setting up two bank accounts:

– one for essentials such as rent, taxi fare and groceries and the other for non-essentials such as entertainment and clothing.


– you could transfer a set weekly or monthly amount into your second account, this will help keep you from overspending or running out of money.

  • Remember that your spending patterns will differ significantly between term-time and holidays – you will need to budget accordingly for both.
  • Join loyalty programmes and find out about student discounts.
  • Shop around for bargains – compare prices to save save money on groceries and toiletries.
  • Don’t waste money on pre-packed lunches and take away coffees – making your own lunch at home will save you loads of money during the year.
  • Get cooking – cooking your own meals in big batches and freezing them is a great way of saving money and ensuring that you have a meal waiting for you when you get home after a long day of lectures.
  • Earn extra money in your spare time – instead of lazing your June and December holidays away in front of the tv or computer, apply for holiday work.  Most major retailers need casual, student staff especially during the December period.
  • Credit cards are not the solution – they attract major interest charges and can result your credit rating being tarnished even before you start your first job.


Budgeting: Your Annual Budget. (n.d.). Retrieved from:  http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/university-tuition-fees/managing-your-money/budgeting/ [Accessed on: 22 January 2016].

10 Ways for Students to Save, Make and Manage Money at University. (n.d.). Retrieved from:  http://www.barclays.co.uk/P1242678545223  [Accessed on: 22 January 2016].

Taylor, K.K. (2010). Back to School Tips: Student Budget Planner. Retrieved from:  http://www.squawkfox.com/2010/08/18/student-budget-planner/  [Accessed on: 22 January 2016].

Taylor, K.K. (2010). Financial Planning Series: How to Make a Budget. Retrieved from:  http://www.squawkfox.com/2010/03/03/how-to-make-a-budget/  [Accessed on: 22 January 2016].


Preparing for College 101

With just over two weeks to go before lectures start, I will be running a series called “Preparing for College 101” from Monday, 02 February 2015.

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Topics will include:

Tips for Surviving & Thriving at College

– Why You Should Attend Orientation

– Coping with Homesickness

– Time Management

– How to Budget

and more.

These posts, though aimed at new / First Year students, will provide helpful information for all students regardless of what year you are (socially or academically).