Budget Eating, Is Possible
I have experimented with various approaches to teaching my daughters to live on a budget. When they lived at home, they had their own bank accounts and never had carte blanche when it came to spending money. Once they each left for college, the discussion about budgeting took on a more serious tone. Perhaps your student is actually able to keep to a budget. My daughters needed more guidance and they both struggled at the beginning, but eventually got it (for the most part). I admit, it was hard telling my daughter, as I watched her monthly allowance dwindle, that she better be a bit more cautious or stock up on peanut butter or ramen noodles for her next few meals until her next college allowance came. I knew though that the gift of teaching her to budget her money would be far more useful than the pain I was feeling saying so or even when she had to stay back when her friends headed out for sushi. Did I feel bad? Absolutely but parenting is easy, said no parent ever.
The good news is that there are plenty of places around UF’s campus that make sticking to a budget possible. There are also a few good tricks. For instance, if your students have a meal plan, encourage them to bring back a few snacks from the dining room for later. There is nothing wrong with leaving with a banana, apple or hardboiled egg.
Check out Hooked, a free app that offers deals at local restaurants around Gainesville. A friend purchased the upgraded version for $3 a month and, in two months, has calculated that she has saved $26 so far. Another popular app that has been in Gainesville for a little over a year now is Tastebud. Students can save up to 50% at participating restaurants, including Blaze Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Domino’s, Relish, Smoothy King, Pita Pit, Burrito Famous and more. Students today are very adept at using technology to help them save money.
Tell them to check out some of their favorite places to see if they give a student discount, money off if you check in on Facebook (Bento gives $1 off) or have weekly specials. There are many other places to eat on campus that are budget friendly too. Student’s favorite places to eat on a budget include:
4 Rivers – Counter-serve joint featuring Texas-style BBQ, homestyle sides & sweet treats. Located on Archer Road
Bento Cafe – locations on Archer and Newberry Road, this restaurant specializes in sushi and other pan Asian menu items. The single portion meal in a box allows you to create your own Asian masterpiece.
Blaze Pizza – Located on Archer Road, you create your own artisanal pizza or choose from one of their own signature pizzas. Gluten-free dough available.
California Chicken Grill – Located on SW 34th Street, choose from wraps and sandwiches, wings, salads and more. Register on their website for discounts.
Chipotle – There are 3 locations in Gainesville, 13th Street, University Drive and Archer Road. Choose from burritos, bowls, tacos and salads with your choice of meat or sofritas for vegans or if you just want a meat alternative, rice, beans, salsa, guac and more
Costa Vida – Located on Archer Road, this Mexican counter service restaurant serves up tacos, burritos and has gluten-free options.
Designer Greens – Located on University Avenue, specializes in build-your-own salads, Panini sandwiches, and wraps. Half salads range from $6.69 to $7.69 with an additional charge for adding grilled chicken or sliced turkey. Grilled sandwiches are also in the $7.00 range.
Felipes – Located on University Ave, specializes in made to order Mexican food
Grill Fresh – Located in Midtown, they specialize in farm-to-bowl creations, letting you choose your base (greens, potatoes, rice or noodles), veggies, protein, and sauce. Sides available at an additional cost
Patticakes – Located on E. University Drive, they serve up muffins, breakfast sandwiches, paninis, grilled cheese and are known for their Patti Mac, their take on macaroni and cheese but that’s only available for in restaurant dining and takes 15 minutes – well worth the wait
La Tienda – Located on 13th Street, this Latin favorite includes tacos, tortas, sandwiches and other traditional Mexican favorites including enchiladas, flautas, and fajitas
Mi Apa – Located off of Archer, specializing in Cuban sandwiches, arepas, and other authentic Cuban cuisines. Check their website for daily specials and reward programs
Sushi Chao – Located on University Avenue, think sushi, sashimi and poke bowls
Zoe’s Kitchen – Located on Archer Road, serves a traditional Mediterranean menu in a fast service fashion including baked feta, various hummus flavors, various salads including a Greek and Mediterranean salad, sandwiches and pita, Piadina, kabobs, and bowls.
Eventually, they will find all the deals out there. When they can manage their money after college, they will thank you. Well, they probably won’t thank you, but knowing they are eating and sticking to a reasonable budget is thanks enough for this mom. And by the way, don’t expect them to take you to these budget-friendly places when you visit. That is when they will be hoping for a meal at all the restaurants they presently can’t afford.