How much does an average college student spend on food?

3 min readSep 3, 2021


University Dining

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How much does an average college student spend on food?

College comes as a transitional phase in several aspects. When perceived financially, this phase is slightly strange -making college student spending stats quite interesting. Many students end up with significant debts as well. Out of all the expenses, money spent on food is an integral component of a student’s financial management. Let us understand their food-spending statistics in detail.

Analyzing a College Student’s Expenditure on Food

It cannot be easy to analyze the amount a college student spends on food throughout the journey because colleges, lifestyles, different meal plans, and preferences tend to vary significantly.

The best part is that you can effectively budget your overall spending on food during college. Along with dedicated college meal plans, students can also consider eating out of campus or spending money on groceries. Let us discuss the same in detail.

Considering Additional Food Budget

Do you want to discontinue the college meal plan? Do you wish to subsidize your college meal plan with an additional food budget? Then, you need to think about what allowance you require every month for the given type of expenditure. It can turn out to be more dynamic than a dedicated meal plan.

As per a study report, a college-aged individual will go forward with spending around $163 to $367 every month on additional food costs. When you are considering a supplemental food budget when you are in college, here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Look Out for Coupons: Some many money-saving tricks and applications can help you come across low-cost alternatives in your area. Therefore, you should keep searching for local deals, coupons, or sales for your favorite meal plans.
  • Consider Eat-out Expenses: Another option to manage your budget on food during college is to ensure that eat-out or social expenses are a part of your college budget.
  • Subscribe for a Dedicated Meal Plan: With the advancement of technology -especially in the face of the pandemic, dedicated meal plans for college students have come up. You can easily search for them online. With such meal plans, you can customize your meals throughout the day at cost-effective prices.

Considering College Meal Plans

As per a study report, it is estimated that the overall spending for food on college meal plans is around $4500 for approximately eight months of subscription. The given value can vary significantly depending on the given university. In most cases, for 1–2 years, college students must select the college meal plan. As such, it becomes a fixed budget expense as far as college expenses are concerned.


There are several factors to consider while deciding on the food budget as a college student. As you plan, it will allow you to make the most of your money. With little research & organization, you can eat well and save money at the same time.

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