As a university student, money is always something that is on our minds. One struggle I often faced was the desire to eat out with friends at restaurants or order take out, while having a fridge full of food. Not only is this wasteful because some food often spoiled before it was consumed, but also it was expensive. A meal out with friends can average anywhere from 15-30 dollars.
This week’s blog post will go into detail about my tips and tricks for eating healthy while on a budget – in university in particular, but also for anyone trying to save money.
1. Plan out your meals for the week.
Although I am a BIG advocate for meal prepping, I do understand that many people do not enjoy eating the same meal multiple times in the week, so I’ll try to provide some other suggestions.
For most people, lunch is usually the meal that is not eaten at home. In university, I would make a big batch of a meal, such as chili, pasta or burrito bowls, and take one portion to school every day.
If you’re not a fan of eating the same lunch for 5 days in a row, my suggestion would be to double the amount of food you cook for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. This way the food is still relatively fresh, and you don’t get taste fatigue – where a meal you used to love eating has now lost its appeal.1
Planning your meals for the week means that you will know exactly what ingredients and how much of it you will need.
2. Plan your meals around foods that are in-season or on-sale.
When foods are in-season, not only are they more likely to be local and in abundance, but they are also more likely to be on sale. Let’s say asparagus is on sale this week, incorporate asparagus as your veggie in your lunch or dinner rather than maybe cauliflower which may not be on sale.
3. Make a grocery list.
Now that you know what foods you need to purchase – write them down. There’s nothing worse than getting to the grocery store and then forgetting what you need to buy or worse, getting home and realizing you forgot the one vital ingredient to a recipe.
After writing down what you need to make your meals, think about what you’ll want to snack on – I always like to buy at least 1 piece of fruit per day as well as a more indulgent treat – my current go-to is ketchup Doritos.
I prefer using pen and paper and handwriting my grocery list as opposed to using my phone. Especially if grocery shopping overwhelms you or you’re grocery shopping with kids, you don’t want to be having to constantly pull out your phone to see what you need to purchase. Plus, having both hands free is often necessary for things such as produce, therefore you will be picking up and putting down your list often and you wouldn’t want to risk misplacing your phone.
4. Use the Flipp app and price match.
I want to thank whoever came up with the concept of price matching because it literally saves me so much money. I remember when I was younger and would go to the grocery store with my mom and she’d have a pile of flyers she’d bring with her to price match. Honestly, I used to find it embarrassing, but now I know that my mom was so savvy. What is price matching? Basically, it’s where a grocery store will honour the sale price from another retailer if it is cheaper than their price. This is a great money and time saver.
The grocery stores that offer price matching include:
- No Frills
- Fresh Co
Price matching has never been easier now that the Flipp app is available. The Flipp app has all of the flyers for the major food retailers in your city and allows you to search for a specific food you’re looking for. You can then save that food item and easily go back to it when you’re at the checkout price matching your food.
5. Bring a snack to school/work.
One of the biggest challenges I experienced when trying to stay on a budget was purchasing snacks while on campus. There’s nothing worse than when you’re halfway through your day, already eaten your lunch and are still hungry. More often than not you end up purchasing a protein bar, smoothie, cookie, etc. on campus or from a vending machine and let me tell you – those things rip you off! Stop spending your hard-earned cash on these snacks and bring one with you instead, if you followed tip #3 then you would’ve purchased snacks at the grocery store anyways. Plus, if you end up not needing the snack, you can bring it home and enjoy it another day.
These tips are ones I’ve personally used for many years and find very helpful for saving money and eating healthy. Do you have a tip that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear it! Shoot me an email or comment below