dh and I are starving NYC students, so face same issue. (Especially because we really, really like good food.) We've use some non-original solutions, some of which have been mentioned.
1) we cook huge quantities of everything, then freeze part and pack part right away in tupperware for taking for lunch. We have one of those dinky NY 3/4 size fridges, so we pack everything in qt sized ziplic freezer bags, flat, and stack them up. there's not an extra inch of space in our freezer.
2) We get our veggies from a Community Supported Agriculture farm in the summer months (June through November), and Urban Organics in the winter months. (Also check out thread on Urban Organics: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...=urban+organic
) It means that we actually eat a variety of veggies, and that we spend less time at the grocery store impulse buying.
Urban Organic is a good deal, all in all. The bigger box is definitely a better value than the smaller one. Getting a weekly big box is too much to stay on top of for two of us, so we get a box every other week, which works great. (Then we just make sure to eat the super perishables first.) Not the best of all possible worlds, but better than the non-organic crud in local stores.
As far as CSAs go: In NY, they usually run from June through Nov or Dec, and involve an up-front fee (usually payable in installments). You then have to schlep to a central pick-up site, but it's much much cheaper than Urban Organics, you know exactly where your produce is coming from, it's fresher, etc. We use Roxbury Farm, which has pick-up sites in Manhattan, but a quick search on the web brought up a couple of Queens CSAs. Try, eg, http://www.panix.com/~levner/csa/
3) We schlep every couple months to a grocery store that has a bulk grains section and get brown rice, kasha, whole wheat cous cous, whole wheat pasta, wild rice, quinoa, nuts, oatmeal, cornmeal, dried beans, dried fruit, etc. (Hint: put all the bags in the freezer overnight when you get them home. Bulk bins are notorious for having pantry moths. We just look at any "extras" as a little bonus protein.
) No kidding, it's a real pain, especially since the closest bulk place closed 6 months ago. But it's a massive $$ savings over getting organic rice, etc, from the grocery store.
4) we use a pressure cooker for a lot of our cooking. (I love my Fagor!) This is a massive bonus, especially since we're short on both time and money. Nothing's cheaper than dried beans.
5) obvious, but we try and stay away from packaged foods. Other than dh's addiction to tortilla chips ("really, I can stop whenever I want to"), we're pretty good.
Thanks for all helpful suggestions! The whole cost of food in NYC thing gets really old really fast.