Skip To Content
Mobile Nav Toggle Mobile Search Toggle

Festival Foods

  • Home
  • Blog
  • Top 10 Budget-Friendly Staples for College Students

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Staples for College Students


Not long ago, we too were trying to fit healthy foods into our broke college students’ budget. So today we’re rounding up ten of our favorite budget-friendly staple foods – perfect for a college student budget!

pancakes and bananas

1. Bananas

Loaded with potassium and fiber, bananas are easy to pack and store making them a nutritious staple for anyone on-the-go.

Ways to Eat:

  • Added to oatmeal
  • Turned into 3-Ingredient Pancakes
  • Slathered with peanut butter
  • In place of jelly in “PB&J’s”
  • On top of greek yogurt

Pro Tips: Buy a mix of yellow and green bananas to have ripe (and not overripe) bananas all week long. Have past prime bananas? Peel and freeze for easy addition to smoothies.

Oatmeal with blueberries

2. Oatmeal

A natural whole grain and easy-to-make, oatmeal is a quick and delicious way to start your day.

Ways to Eat:

Pro Tip: Need only a small amount? Check out the bulk bins in our Natural and Organic Department.  You can buy just the amount you need.

Two egg muffins

3. Eggs

Not only are they affordable, but eggs are also packed with high-quality protein and 13 essential vitamins and minerals.

Ways to Eat: 

  • Hard boiled for grab-n-go snacks
  • Make a microwave breakfast sandwich (see Pro Tip below)
  • Bake into egg muffins
  • Scrambled with veggies

Pro Tip: Enjoy the convenience of fast-food breakfast sandwiches? Save money by making your own! To make: Toast whole grain bread, bagel or English muffin. Meanwhile, spray a small ramekin with nonstick cooking spray. Crack an egg into ramekin and whisk with a fork. Microwave egg for 1-2 minutes or until egg is done. Add egg to toasted bread, top with cheese, spinach, Canadian bacon or other toppings of choice and enjoy!

4. Greek Yogurt

Packing more protein than the regular variety, Greek yogurt offers an affordable source of hunger-fighting protein.

Ways to Eat:

  • Topped with fruit or cereal
  • Stirred into oatmeal for overnight oats
  • Substituted for sour cream – try nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Added to smoothies

Pro Tip: If you really like yogurt (and know you’re going to eat it), buy bigger containers (vs. the individual cups) to get more for your dollar.

Whole grain toast with peanut butter and fruit

5. Whole Grain Bread

One of those foods you can eat breakfast, lunch and supper, whole grain bread offers a healthful base to many meals and snacks.

Ways to Eat: 

  • Toasted with peanut butter and bananas
  • Made into “PB&J’s” – Try sliced bananas or frozen berries (thawed) in place of jelly!
  • Spread with tuna or egg salad
  • Topped with eggs and cheese for a quick and easy breakfast sandwich
  • Turned into pizza toast

Pro Tip: Get the most nutrition for your buck by choosing whole grain. To make sure you’re buying a whole grain, check the ingredients list. The first ingredient should include the word “whole.”

Black bean burrito bowl

6. Brown Rice

Another natural whole grain, brown rice is easy to make in the microwave and a great way to round out a meal without breaking the bank.

Ways to Eat:

  • Topped with black beans and salsa for a quick burrito bowl
  • Mixed with frozen peas and carrots (cooked), low-sodium soy sauce and a scrambled egg for easy “fried” rice
  • Added to broths or soups
  • Served with chicken breast and steamed veggies

Pro Tip: If you don’t have the freezer space for steamable brown rice, try these convenient, ready-to-serve brown rice cups – no refrigeration needed.

veggies and hummus

7. Hummus

If you’ve never had hummus, it’s a tasty Mediterranean-style dip made out of nutrition-packed chickpeas, or garbanzo beans.

Ways to Eat:

  • Added to sandwiches or wraps
  • Used in place of mayo for tuna or egg salad
  • Mixed with vinegar and seasonings for a quick and flavorful salad dressing
  • Served with whole grain crackers or fresh cut veggies

Pro Tip: Love hummus? We do, too! Try making your own for an even more cost-effective dip.

bowl of frozen fruits

8. Frozen Fruits and Veggies

Frozen fruits and veggies are not only an affordable option anytime of the year, but they also require little to no prep and can be used in a variety of different dishes.

Ways to Eat:


  • Stirred into oatmeal
  • Tossed into smoothies
  • Thawed and added to “PB&J’s” in place of jelly
  • Eaten on their own for a better-for-you frozen snack or treat



  • Steamed for a quick and easy side – Birdseye® Steamfresh® Veggies are one of our team’s favorites!
  • Tossed with diced chicken and low-sodium soy sauce for a quick stir-fry
  • Added to broths or soups
  • Baked into egg muffins

Pro Tip: If you have the freezer space, stock up when frozen fruits and vegetables are on sale.


Have a question about nutrition? Our Mealtime Mentors would love to help! Reach out at or find them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice. Health information changes frequently as research constantly evolves. You should not rely on any information gathered here as a substitute for consultation with medical professionals. Information may not be reproduced without permission from Festival Foods. We strongly encourage guests to review the ingredient lists of suggested products before purchasing to ensure they meet individual dietary needs. All products not available at all Festival locations.

Printer Friendly Version