Special guest post from UMD senior River Philbert, Class of 2020
Commuting to a college campus daily is one of the many ways college students can save money. Students are not only able to save on room and board, but also save money by not purchasing a meal plan or spending money at on-campus dining.
As a commuter student, I faced the challenge of staying on campus all day without an actual meal. Unlike other college students, I wasn’t able to run to the dining hall or my apartment between classes to eat a meal. It’s very easy to spend money on meals, but I knew that I was unable to afford buying a meal every day, so I needed to get creative. Over the past two years, I was able to master bringing my lunch to campus and have enjoyed it ever since.
Buying lunch or meals from fast food restaurants daily can become very costly. For example, a meal might cost anywhere between $7 to $10, which can equal almost $50 a week or $200 a month.
Packing meals can help cut down those costs significantly. For example, you buy one sandwich for about $7 at Subway. You can get the same ingredients for about $15 and make the sandwich at home. The ingredients can last for about a week, which in total can save you $20 compared to buying a sub from Subway every day.
Commuter students may also face the additional issue of lacking refrigeration for their lunch, or access to a microwave for on-the-go meals. Many students are unaware that the buildings with multiple food establishments tend to have microwaves, including the Union Shop at STAMP Student Union. The UMD campus map shows a listing of public access microwaves on campus.
(Meal tip: when reheating food is always keep your dish covered with a microwave-safe lid.)
Keeping food cold is essential so bacteria doesn’t spread. It’s best to prepare and refrigerate meals the night before and not take them out until you’re ready to leave. To keep foods cold throughout the day, get a frozen gel pack that you freeze overnight and put on top of your food to keep it cold throughout the day. Not all foods need to be kept cold such as whole fruits, nuts, vegetables, chips, etc.
Healthy on-the-go options
Hummus Wrap: spinach tortilla, spicy roasted hummus, cucumbers, and spinach.
Salad in a Jar: choice of veggies, nuts, and dressing.
Snacks: Crackers, apples, almonds, and raisins
There are lots of delicious lunch options available online to try. Packing a lunch to bring to campus has helped me stay healthy and saves money. I have experimented with a variety of meals and snacks and have learned what works best for me. Don’t be afraid to try something new, like bringing your lunch; you won’t regret it.
River Philbert is a senior Communications major, with a minor in General Business, at the University of Maryland.