Eating well doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are six ways to eat well for less!
The post-secondary student’s life is a hectic one, and nutrition is often the first thing to be sacrificed for the sake of having more time for studying, homework and part-time jobs. Specially-priced, student-targeted offers on pizza slices, subs and other fast foods give students a quick, no-fuss way to grab a meal on the go, but also contribute to the dreaded Freshman 15, the number of pounds new college students are rumoured to gain in their first year.
While the occasional fast food meal won’t hurt you, you’ll be better served by following a few simple rules to ensure students can eat healthy on a budget.
Students can eat healthy on a budget
1) Do the Math
If you find your jeans are fitting a little tighter or your wallet a little lighter, break out the calculator and do the math. Individual fast-food deals may seem like a money-saver in the moment, but you may be surprised at how much money you spend over the course of a week. If you dare, look up the nutritional information on the fast foods you most often eat and tally up the fat and carbs you eat in a week. You may be shocked at the calories you’re consuming.
2) Break Out the Flyers
It may seem tedious, but grocery store and pharmacy flyers can become your best friends, and they’re all available online at the store’s websites. Get out a pad and paper, compare prices and make a proper grocery list, with essentials listed first. You’ll be surprised at the difference in prices from store to store. If you shop with a list, you’ll find that you’re less likely to load your cart with impulse items that add up at the cash register.
3) Be Wary of Certain Sales Items
Not all sales are alike. Some of the items most often on sale – soda, snack foods, cereals, nutrient-poor canned goods – are the worst for your waistline and your wallet. It’s better to invest in versatile foods that keep well or can be frozen for later use. Pasta, ground beef, spaghetti sauce, frozen vegetables and prepared soups or soup mixes are just some of the items that go a long way without going bad.
4) Don’t Buy Your Beverages
Invest in a water filtration system and splurge on an insulated water bottle that keeps water cold for long periods of time. Filling a water bottle in the morning and re-filling it throughout the day ultimately costs far less than buying bottled water throughout the day. Invest in a coffee maker and buy an insulated travel mug. Fill it up in the morning and find out which to-go coffee shops or convenience stores offer deals on refills for customers who bring their own mug. You’ll feel the return on investment over time.
5) Cook in Batches
One of the easiest ways to save money is to cook large batches of foods that can be easily frozen. Chili, homemade spaghetti sauce, healthy soups, hamburger patties (raw or cooked!) and individual servings of dishes like Shepherd’s Pie are easy to prepare, freeze beautifully and provide a healthy meal on short notice.
6) Cook With Friends
Makeshift “community kitchens” are becoming more and more popular among post-secondary students who have caught on that home-made meals are healthier and more inexpensive than fast food alternatives. Check the bulletin boards at school, or put a note up yourself. Students share the cost of groceries and spend a day together making meals that they can then freeze for later use. It gives students a chance to save money by buying ingredients in bulk and have a wider variety of single-serve frozen meals to choose from.