Congratulations, you're heading off to school! But when you’re a student, it can be hard to avoid hitting the vending machines during an all-night study session. However, eating cheap can be fun, affordable and boost your health to help you stay focused in class.
Check out these six easy tricks to keep eating healthy and your budget on track.
Pack a lunch
It’s a classic piece of advice for a reason. Cutting back on eating out is the easiest way to save money on your monthly food bill. It may be convenient to grab a quick meal at a restaurant on campus between classes, but your bank account will thank you for bringing your meals (at least part of the time). That daily $5 coffee habit also ends up hurting your bottom line. Instead, brew a few cups at home and take it with you in a thermos.
Sales-driven meal plan
Planning out a week's worth of lunches and dinners ahead of time will already cut down your food costs. There's a way to take this money-saving technique to the next level: design your dishes around sales. Find out what will be discounted that week, particularly more expensive items like meat, dairy and organic food. This information can often be found on the grocery stores’ websites, apps or even old fashioned flyers in your local newspaper. Next, plan your meals around the best deals you can find. Not sure what to do with chicken thighs? A recipe generator like Yummly can give you some ideas.
Figure out your grocery battle plan
It’s easy to accidentally spend more than you meant to at the grocery store when you go there without a plan. Step one - look for the bargains; scan the bottom shelves to compare prices as this is where the cheapest products tend to be placed. Buy food in bulk and be willing to skip brand names. Every supermarket also has a sale section where products expiring soon are offered at steep discounts. Some supermarkets even offer special coupons exclusively to customers who use their apps. If you are on the hunt for a particular item, you can use other apps to compare prices on specific items at supermarkets in your area.
A new life for leftovers
Have some leftover roasted chicken or half a can of kidney beans? Channel your creativity and find a new recipe to use your extra food in. Roasted chicken can easily be turned into a stuffed chicken pita sandwich and kidney beans are key to making chilli. Repurposing leftovers also helps cut back on food waste. With each Canadian throwing out an average of 170 kilograms of food each year, the planet will thank you.
Start meal prep when you get home
Another simply way to save money on your food budget is to take care of the food you already have. Portion your purchases as soon as you get home to keep them fresher for longer and save fridge space (especially if you are in the minifridge stage of university life). Freeze as much as possible, especially meat, fruit and vegetables. Most importantly, know what you already have at home and be creative with what you have before hitting the grocery store aisles. Bon appetite!
Dine out on deals
Trying to save money doesn’t mean you can’t eat out. One way to treat yourself at a restaurant without breaking your budget, go during lunch when meals are cheaper and look for places that offer student specials. Check out your local restaurants and pubs for when they have deals – there is no reason you should be missing out on delicious memories of Taco Tuesdays.
Want to check out more tips and tools for your upcoming school semester? Visit our Student Hub here.
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