Put your food budget on a diet

If only we didn’t have to eat every day! Think of the money we could save if dinner was only required twice a week. Alas, starving students must eat every day. The price of grabbing a bite on the go can sneak up on us though. A burger and fries before class followed by that much-needed latte and maybe a snack during study group adds up fast. Before you know it, the bank account is shrinking at an alarming rate. All those meals add up.

With a little planning, and some smart choices, students can save a lot of money on food and even eat a healthy meal here and there. And yes, you can do it on our CSUN campus. Here are a some cheap food options on campus.

1. Tucked away in the bookstore complex are a couple of well-known fast food joints. Now, you might not think of Burger King as the place to go for healthy and cheap meals…and you might be right, but El Pollo Loco does offer a reasonably priced, $5 pollo bowl. The all-in-one meal comes with rice, pinto beans, a little pico de gallo and, of course, their famous grilled chicken and you can also spice it up with some salsa

2. The Arbor Grill is a terrific little spot that has it all. Located behind the Oviatt Library, you’ll find a convenience store that provides all sorts of snacks and drinks for the student-on-the-go, but the real value is the grilled food itself. Try their southwest salad with black beans, corn, tortilla strips and mozzarella cheese on a bed of fresh spring greens for just $4.19. Regulars also recommend the tuna salad melt if you’re looking for something a little more substantial. You can also get a Albacore tuna salad grilled with Swiss cheese on rye for $4.99.

3. The Marketplace at the Sierra Center complex can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Located just across from the B3 parking structure on the corner of Etiwanda Ave. and Prairie Street, this building hosts eateries with everything from pasta to sushi. You can build your own custom salad at the Grill & Greens salad bar in the center of it all for just $3.79 for a small and $5.29 for a large. No need to worry about weight, just make sure the container closes! Checkers Deli has more than tater tots and chicken strips. Try their turkey cranberry wrap combo (it comes with two sides) for $6.49. There’s enough here to split with a friend or save for lunch tomorrow.

4. Of course, one of the best ways to save on eating out is, well…not to eat out. Packing your mid-day meal can save a lot of money. A person can only pack so many sack lunches before you long for something else, though. Make the most of last night’s leftovers at one of the campus microwaves. There’s one at The Edge convenience store in the bookstore complex and another tucked away in the Michael Eisner Education building, near the vending machines. Just remember to pack a fork and spoon!

5. Even if you do end up grabbing a little guilty pleasure snack before class, you don’t have to feel so guilty about it. CSUN offers a few ways to save on campus dining. There’s your handy-dandy MataMoney card which saves you ten percent at campus eateries. The Freudian Sip offers a loyalty card that will get you a free drink after you’ve bought ten. It’s a little shocking how quickly that card gets filled up! The Marketplace at the Sierra Center also has a loyalty card that will get you a free $6 item after you’ve spent $5 or more on nine separate occasions. Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?