Budget Eating, Is Possible
Getting your college kid eating while at the same time balancing their food budget is a real challenge. 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 that it was hard telling my daughter, as I watched her monthly allowance dwindle, that she had better be a bit more cautious or perhaps stock up on peanut butter or ramen noodles for her next few meals until her scheduled 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 that or knowing she occasionally 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 Asian Kitchen & Sushi – Now has 3 locations in Gainesville – the newest location is in the base of The Standard at Gainesville Apartments right across from the University of Florida campus. Ideal for a quick, fresh-to-order lunch or dinner. Also located on Archer Rd and one on Newberry Road.
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
Felipes – Located on University Ave, specializes in made to order Mexican food
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
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 might not thank you, but knowing they are eating and sticking to a reasonable budget is thanks enough for this mom. 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 can’t afford on their college allowance.