You’re broke. Tuition costs and rent payments have bled your bank, and you feel a pang of guilt every time you pull out your debit card. You’ve sold everything you possibly can on “Free & For Sale”, down to the last gently-used mascara.
But just because you’re broke doesn’t mean that you can’t well. I figured out that you can eat keep eating healthy and well for as little as $100 a month. Here’s how I did it.
Cut down on processed foods and dining out
Pre-packaged meals and fast foods tend to cost more, make you hungry faster and contain an excess of calories and little nutritional value. Instead, cook things from scratch. Before you say “ain’t nobody got time for that,” I’m here to assure you that it’s entirely doable. Cooking from scratch can be time-consuming, and not everyone has the luxury of spending up to two hours every day preparing fresh meals. So why not pick your least busy day of the week and cook multiple meals at the same time? When you’re done, divide everything into portions in microwave-safe Tupperware and stash them in the freezer.
You can also eat more home-cooked meals without compromising your social life. Potlucks with friends are a cheap substitute, and they still offer the opportunity to try new foods and socialize. You can even cook together and split the cost of groceries.
Buy your food in large packages
Larger packages are generally cheaper than smaller ones of the same amount. Pantry staples, such as spaghetti, cereal and rice, can last for months. You’ll save money in the subsequent months, and you’ll be surprised how much faster you can whisk together a meal. Similarly, potatoes and onions are pretty much indestructible, and you can buy as many as you want at once.
Keep track of flyers and discounts
Apps like Flipp allow you to look up and clip weekly flyers from various grocery stores and compare and contrast different stores to get the best deals. Some grocery stores (like Metro and Loblaws) have student discounts on certain days of the week, which are usually equivalent to not having to pay tax.
Watch out for “reduced” fruits and veggies
Grocery stores regularly throw away perfectly ripe fruits because they have a short shelf life, but before they do, some, like Metro, attempt to sell them in assorted packages at ridiculously discounted prices.
These reduced items don’t show up on flyers so you have to find them in person. Don’t be embarrassed to buy them — by doing so, you’re saving the environment and doing the store and your wallet a big favour.
Opt for cheaper cuts of meat
If you’re broke, then beef tenderloin steaks are a bad idea, but you can still get your protein fix. Chicken is usually cheap, but drumsticks, leg quarters and wings are the cheapest — and they’re delicious.
Ground beef can cost as little as three dollars a pound, and you can make awesome meatballs and patties from it. Avoid pre-cut beef stew packages and instead cut the beef yourself.
Pork chops, flanks and sirloin steaks are also relatively cheap, especially if you buy those large, “super saving” packages. Don’t worry too much about the impending expiration date — that’s what freezers are for.
Use your freezer
Simply put, things last longer in the freezer. Frozen meats can last up to two months and still retain their texture, while frozen sliced bananas make awesome snacks.
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