How to Balance Cheap and Healthy Living in an Apartment

By Breanna Alverson
Business Administration Major, Colangelo College of Business

Fruits and vegetables with a question mark

By Jessalyn Johnson
English Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

It is an age-old question anyone living on a budget understands: How do I get the most bang for my buck? As a college student, this normally applies to food. How can I get the most filling and healthy food for the cheapest price?

Generally, the answer involves cooking meals at home, and thanks to Grand Canyon University’s investment in apartment-style housing, this has become an option for many of GCU’s on-campus students. With six apartment-style options on campus for the 2017-18 school year, four of which were built in the last 2 years, students are looking for ways to save money with good old fashioned home cooking.

As an on-campus GCU student for the past three years, I am very familiar with classic college dorm meals like cereal, PB & J, Campbell’s soup, Cup of Noodles and, my personal favorite, Cliff Bars. But for the upcoming semester, I am broadening my food horizons beyond Chick-Fil-A and instead looking forward to living in the North Rim Apartments with an oven and stovetop. The possibilities seem endless! So let’s take a look at some of your options:


You can find potatoes at any grocery store, and they usually sell for less than a dollar a pound. Potatoes of any kind serve as a great side dish to any course, especially meats and pastas.

Whole Wheat or Multigrain Pasta

One of my favorite dinner options! Pasta can be cooked for so many different dishes. Just add a little sauce or butter with some seasoning and you will be set. A box of pasta contains about seven servings and costs roughly $1.69.


Fresh fruit can be found at any grocery store and can be eaten as part of a meal or on its own as a snack. You can find bananas, apples, grapes and many others sweet but healthy fruit options for a range of relatively cheap prices, ranging from less than a dollar to a few bucks per pound.

Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

Non-fat Greek yogurt is great for protein and can be doctored in so many different ways. Just add some nuts, fruit or honey and you will be set to go. Save money by buying the larger container instead of the individual serving containers.

Old-Fashioned Oats

This one is worth its weight in gold. Use oats for baking or good old hot cereal. A 42-ounce container has about 30 servings for only $3.99.

Frozen Vegetables

Now we cannot avoid the green things forever! Frozen vegetables are perfect for side dishes, casseroles, stir fry and stews. This is truly your nutrition boost full of fiber, protein, vitamins and potassium. Depending on the size of the bag, you can get six to eight servings for less than $2.


A filling food choice is chicken, offering a good amount of lean protein and nutrients. A frozen bag of grilled chicken can be found anywhere that sells groceries and can be paired with almost any vegetable or starch. You can find precooked chicken for about $4 a bag.

Fresh Bagged Spinach

Popeye got it right! Spinach makes for easy salads, egg dishes, casseroles and soups. As a deep leafy green, spinach contains fiber, vitamins, calcium and folic acid. It costs about 66 cents for a four cup serving.


Some of the best things you can eat are also the simplest. Eggs are a great source of protein and easy to make. You can use them in just about anything! They come at about $3 per dozen.


With some pita bread or chips, this snack is both good for you and delicious. You can make your own hummus at home with some chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and spices or buy a small tub for about $2.

Prices will vary depending on season and store, but in general these are 10 healthy foods that have a lot of bang for a buck. As an on-campus student looking forward to rooming in GCU’s apartment-style housing, I will definitely be keeping these foods in mind at the grocery store!

Grand Canyon University is a private, Christian school located in the heart of Phoenix. To learn more about GCU’s housing or campus experience, check out our website or use the Request More Information button on this page.


  • Magee, Elaine, MPH, RD. “15 Healthy Foods for About $2.” WebMD. Retrieved from:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.