How to Save Money in College ~ With Recipe: Spaghetti Sandwich & Other Recipes & Tips for College Students

6 Tips for How to Save Money in College

I loved college.  Some of the best years of my life and lots of great memories come from that time.  Financially, it can be a challenging time, however, especially in a struggling economy.

With this Saturday evening’s recipe, we also have some ideas for how to save money in college.  Some of you may be getting ready to go to college, while others may be preparing to send your child to school.  We hope these few ideas will be helpful:

1)  While eating out and exploring restaurants around your college campus are a fun part of the college experience, cooking at home, as a rule rather than the exception, is one big way you can keep some money in your pocket while getting your degree.  Click here to
read about some other benefits of eating at home versus dining out.  And if you need some tips for cooking for one, there are some good ones in this guest post at Nomadic Foodie, Cooking for One.

2)  Consider renting your textbooks, versus buying them, through a company such as Campus Book Rentals.  I always like to check a company’s reputation as I consider doing business with them, and the first thing I noticed about Campus Book Rentals is they are accredited through the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating (at the time I checked).  You can learn more about renting textbooks by visiting sites like

As you can see from the picture above, one of my college textbooks was the DSM-IV.  Click here to see that, today, I could save 69% by renting this book versus buying it!  Some of the additional perks of renting are that shipping is free both ways, you can highlight in the books as you study, and with every book rental, you are supporting the work of Operation Smile through Campus Book Rentals:)

Got questions?  Check out their FAQs video:

3)  If you have never lived by a budget, now is a good time to begin that discipline.  You will be so glad you did later on in your life instead of learning some tough financial lessons as many young people do, even beyond college and early in their married lives (speaking from a little bit of experience here!). The Chef and I read Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, a number of years ago, and we wished we had known much of the information and advice he gives in the book when we first got married, or even better, when we went to college!  We would highly recommend the book.

4) The Chef and I attended Appalachian State University, and there was this great little market, called The Market, that was kind of like a mini grocery store.  It was super convenient, meaning it also had “convenience prices.”  Obviously, you would be able to save quite a bit of money by taking a trip to the regular grocery store as you can to buy most of your groceries.  Maybe set aside a certain day when you go regularly to make it routine.  As freshmen, we could not have vehicles “on” campus, so those kinds of trips took a little extra planning.  If you get a group together to carpool then it can be a social time as well and you could each take turns to cut down on gas expenses.

5) Get to know the area where your college is located ahead of time, if possible, and identify recreational/entertainment opportunities that are free or inexpensive.  Recreation and entertainment can be a “budget buster”, especially in college.  :)

6) Shop smart when decorating your dorm room or apartment.  There are wonderful DIY blogs with tips for decorating small spaces and DIY tutorials for possibly any decorating project you can imagine.  One of my favorites is Tip Junkie.

Recipe Ideas and Resources Perfect for College Students on a Budget

Finally, we’ll leave you with some recipe ideas.  The first one was originally going to simply be my recipe for Spaghetti.  I know, I know…. who doesn’t know how to make spaghetti, right?  Oh, but my spaghetti has a “secret” ingredient that is “magical”!  😉  No, really, it does add lots of flavor, and it is a tip that was shared with me… in college… by a hall mate.

When The Chef and I made the spaghetti recently to photograph it, he mixed the sauce and the pasta together, as we normally do, before remembering I needed to photograph it.  We knew the presentation would not be best this way, so I suggested we try eating it as a sandwich.  The Chef replied that he grew up with someone who always ate his spaghetti this way and he thought it might be good.  Think spaghetti between two pieces of garlic toast!  Sounded good to me.

He prepared it, and I took a bite.  Yuck!  I didn’t care for it at all, I told him.  We agreed that it would probably be much better on white bread as opposed to the multi-grain bread we normally eat.  So… we would definitely suggest if you’d like to give this one a try to use white bread for your toast/sandwich bread!  And actually, French bread would probably be quite delicious!

Spaghetti Sandwich

  • 1 package spaghetti pasta
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (Ragu was my brand in college, now it’s Newman’s Own)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • bread
  • butter
  • garlic powder
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, substituting the chicken broth for the water (but however, you may need to add a small amount of water as the pasta cooks).
  2. As pasta cooks, brown ground beef on medium-high heat in medium-sized non-stick skillet.
  3. Add spaghetti sauce and stir it into the ground beef until well incorporated.  Reduce heat and simmer.
  4. When pasta is finished cooking, drain, but do not rinse, and combine with spaghetti sauce.
  5. Place the slices of bread you need on a baking sheet.  Spread desired amount of butter on each slice and sprinkle a little garlic powder over the butter.
  6. Put the baking sheet into the oven and turn on the broiler.  Watch bread and remove from oven when it begins to brown.
  7. After bread cools slightly, assemble your spaghetti sandwiches and serve immediately.

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For lots more great recipe ideas, with more of a focus on eating healthy and avoiding the “Freshman 15″ weight gain, visit this post to grab your Freshman 15 Survival Kit: The Freshman 15 and How to Avoid Gaining It.

Freshman 15 Survival Kit

Being the good Foodie I am, I could not leave you with only one great college recipe idea, so here are a few others I came across:

A Week of Good Eats: Meals for Under $60 (Meaning A WEEK’s worth of meals for LESS THAN $60!)

8 Quick, Easy and Cheap Food Ideas and Recipes for College Students

A couple that we’ve previously served:

Salmon and Sweet Corn Hash

Kicked-up Crock Pot Cubed Steak

And one last BONUS recipe…. because if I were in college right now, I definitely would be trying this one on the morning of exams:
This one was linked up in our Star Recipes collection and as a health-conscious mom I immediately checked it out and filed it away in my memory for future use with my children!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  We were paid to write on this topic but all opinions are 100% ours.  This post also contains affiliate links.

*If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment (don’t be a stranger!), subscribing to our weekly newsletter (it’s free!) to receive all of our recipes in your inbox along with more cooking tips, kitchen tips, great seasonal ideas and more, or sharing it with your family/friends:


More great ideas:  Better Mom Monday, Tip Me Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Walk with Him Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Foodie Friday, Friday Favorites, I’m Lovin’ It

About the Author

Adopted at age 2, grew up in the Charlotte, NC area. Obtained Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Appalachian State University. Loves being a Mom of two and taste-testing Chef John's culinary creations and sharing them with readers.


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