The Cheapest (Great) Eats on Campus
I used to spend all of my money on clothes, but lately, all of my pay cheques have gone directly to food. I don’t know which one is worse.
One of my biggest expenses in university has been food. When I am studying on campus for 12 hours a day during midterms and finals, I often need to buy two or three meals to keep my energy up. But if I were to spend $10 on each meal, that’s already $30 that I am expensing every day on food and I definitely can’t afford that. So throughout my four years here, I have been scouring campus trying to find the cheapest meals that are still relatively healthy and filling without totally breaking the bank. And no, none of these groups have paid me to say the nice things that I’m about to write…. They are honestly my go to’s for lunch when my bank account is low. Here are the healthiest options that I’ve discovered on campus for under $10… and in most cases, $5 or less:
There’s a reason the Subway line ups are always the longest in both HUB and SUB. Subway is relatively healthy and definitely good value for your dollar. To save even more money, make sure to pick up a U of A agenda (at InfoLink) because there are $1 off coupons inside as well as free drink coupons! Plus, if you save your receipt and complete the customer service survey, you can get a free cookie with your next order! Everyone knows Subway cookies are the best.
I fell in love with Burrito Libre in my first year. They were handing out samples one morning and as soon as I tasted it, I knew that I would be spending a great deal of money there over the next couple of years. When I need a lighter lunch, I always gravitate towards their tacos. I love to get the vegetarian tacos because the guacamole is free on them and you can’t not get guacamole. Burritos and Burrito Bowls are another good deal. They are packed with food so you’ll definitely get a good meal out of them. How can you say no to that?!
L’Express always makes the yummiest foods. They have varying soups of the day, and there is nothing better than hot soup on a cold winter day on campus. (And even if you don’t want to admit it, winter is coming…) If you’re not feeling the soup, they also have the most amazing quiche! And they always have awesome daily specials, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for those!
Feta and Olives
Feta and Olives is hands down my favorite place to eat on campus. I discovered it two years ago when I saw that they had an egg wrap for under $3. I know what you are all thinking; who eats an egg wrap for lunch? But breakfast for lunch is always the best thing. It comes on a whole wheat pita with scrambled eggs, a slice of cheese, choice of sauce, and ALL the veggies you want. So, I just load up on all the veggies and the result is a healthy, filling meal. Plus, the employees there are the nicest. The owner always remembers me and gave me coupons the last time I was there. I almost started crying. Clearly, I take my food very seriously.
If egg wraps aren’t your thing, they also have a delicious pineapple chicken wrap as well as falafel wraps.
La Pasta Italian Eatery
I feel like La Pasta is one of the most underrated restaurants in HUB. They never seem to have a long lineup out front, yet their food is absolutely spectacular. Their Panini and wraps are amazing and reasonably priced! They only accept cash, so be sure to plan ahead for that! But their customer service is extraordinary. I remember one time in first year, I was standing in line to get their breakfast wrap (it’s so yummy, it’s filled with zucchini, peppers, potatoes, sausage and egg for only around $5) and the student in front of me didn’t have any cash on him that day. The owner of La Pasta still gave him his food and just told him to pay him back the next day. That’s amazing.
My personal favorite lunch item is the Buddy Burger. At under $2 each, they are a great value and those caramelized onions on them are just so good! If beef isn’t your thing, the chicken buddy burgers are amazing as well!
This one is pretty self explanatory. Timmies has always, and always will be, one of the cheapest places to eat on campus while still being able to provide a delicious and filling meal. Their soup and sandwich combos are always an amazing deal, as well as a bagel and cream cheese if you need something quick and easy (who can resist an Everything Bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese?!).
I’m not going to lie, most of Second Cup’s food offerings are pretty overpriced except for their Ham & Cheese croissant. This croissant meets my “under $5” rule and is actually quite filling! Plus, it’s one of the best tasting things ever. Make sure to ask for it toasted for maximum yumminess.
Pizza is always a campus lunch staple.
Side note: I am the one student who doesn’t like pizza but that’s beside the point.
A slice is only a couple of bucks and combined with the great coupons in the U of A agenda (like free poutine and free Funnel Cake Stix), you can get an awesome lunch for cheap!
Bring your own Lunch. Even though all of the above meals are relatively cheap and will only cost you a few bucks, the cheapest option of all is still packing your own lunch. It takes a bit more preparation, but if you take a little bit of time to meal prep before every week, it can save you quite a bit of money! I have become quite the master sandwich maker. Hint: avocado will make ANYTHING taste good.
I hope these options gave you some new ideas on what to eat for lunch on campus. But if there are any places that you know of that should be on the list, let me know in the comments below! Let’s work together to find the best and cheapest meals on campus!