As easy as it is to spend money on food, it all adds up. Especially if you’re a student, there’s a good chance you often buy lunch between classes, purchase coffee once a day (at least), and on top of all that, spend extra money when out with friends. Not many students cook at home unless it’s a quick pizza or some mac ‘n’ cheese. To add to that, there’s this idea that healthy foods are more expensive.
Here’s the thing…there are many different ways to eat healthy on a student budget. So these are our tips to you.
Make a grocery list (and stick to it)
Seriously. If you don’t make a grocery list, you often aimlessly wander around the store picking things that 1) don’t add up to a proper meal, and 2) end up making your final cost a lot more than expected. When you make a grocery list prior to your trip, you’re going with a purpose. You have a plan (and not many things fail when you have a good plan). Preparing a grocery list also allows you to anticipate how much money you’ll be spending. Perhaps you have an allocated budget for your groceries. This will help you stick to your budget, and will allow you to take out items you don’t necessarily need (like unhealthy chips and cookies). Overall, a grocery list will make your trip a whole lot faster and productive, and encourages you to eat healthy on a student budget.
Shop sales and use coupons
To add onto our first tip, when you create your grocery list, look into what sales stores have. You can do this by using apps like Flipp, that compile weekly flyers and coupons for shops far beyond grocery stores. This will also help determine what shops you should pay a visit to, as opposed to going to multiple or the most convenient ones. Not all students realize this, but there truly are coupons for everything. Shopping for sales and using coupons lowers your overall cost considerably. Once you begin doing this, it’ll become habit, and it certainly isn’t a bad habit to have. With sales and coupons, you will also be able to purchase quality healthy foods for a cheaper price. You can’t go wrong.
Cook at home
As stated earlier, not many students cook at home. Either it takes too long, they don’t know how or they don’t have any groceries. When you choose to cook at home, you save good money. Consider the cost of a meal when you go out — let’s say the average is $14. Now consider how much you can purchase for $14 at a grocery store — enough to make a meal for two (or more). Savings! When you choose to cook at home, you also know what type of ingredients you’re working with. This is good in case you have allergies and also strive to eat healthy. Finally, as opposed to eating at a restaurants, you don’t have to tip anyone. A tip can really push the cost of your meal from $14 to $20, and think of what you can get from a grocery store with $20.
Plan your meals ahead of time
When you plan your meals in advance, it makes it a whole lot easier to grocery shop because you know exactly what you’re looking for. In addition, you spend less time mulling over what to make and how, and instead can jump right to it. Take one day out of your week to plan your meals, and consider what you need to make large portions. When you make an abundance of food, you can use your leftovers as meals for the remainder of the week. Again, you don’t have to think about what to take for lunch the next day because you already have it planned.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
An easy way to eat healthy on a student budget is to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables. They are often on sale and come in larger packages, so you end up getting more for less. While fresh fruit and vegetables may be preferred, they’re only in season for a short time. When they’re not, purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables can get quite pricey. With frozen produce, you can guarantee they won’t go bad. You can choose the quantity you want to use when you’re cooking and can store the rest in the freezer for a later time. Finally, frozen fruits and vegetables are great for making smoothies which make a great breakfast or snack!
Grow your own produce
If you can, consider growing your own produce. By purchasing seeds under the cost of CA$5 per crop, you can grow your own tomatoes, herbs, onions, basil and more. While it takes a little bit of time and effort to set up and maintain, it’s worth it. In the end, you have your own supply and can eat healthy on a student budget. In addition, fresh produce tends to taste a whole lot better than store bought. If you live in an apartment building or condominium and don’t have access to a yard or green space, you can create a small garden on your balcony. If you’re feeling creative, take this opportunity to work on a DIY (do it yourself) project.
Want to register for a program that teaches healthy eating and living? Use ApplyBoard’s free platform to explore different schools and programs across Canada and the U.S.