Monday, 28 August 2017

Back to School Food Hacks on a Budget

Grab your backpack, move into your dorm; it's time to go back to school.

This time of year can be particularly challenging when it comes to budgeting. If you're anything like me, you start worrying about whether you made enough money over the summer. I did this every year, even though I always made it through with money to spare.

Actually, the reason I made it through with money to spare was that I was worried at the beginning of the year. That fear makes you assess your situation critically nd find places that you can make changes in your spending.

The spending I found easiest to modify was my grocery budget. When pushed, I could go about a week and a half or more on about $40. Today I'm going to share five of my best food hacks for university living:

  1.  Ramen - Ok, I know this is cliche, but ramen can be a true godsend. I used to do mine up with tons of veggies and green onion and it was absolutely amazing! If you feel like getting creative, that little pack of ramen noodles makes an excellent food hack. Play with it! You can put almost anything in ramen - pork, beef, tofu, veggies, or my personal favourite...
  2. Eggs - Eggs are one of the smartest things to have in your fridge. they're relatively cheap, filled with protein, easy to cook and can be done in tons of different ways. I would eat eggs about twice a week. If you eat two eggs per sitting and have them twice a week, you get three weeks' worth of meals for about 50 cents per meal. 
  3. Buy big, portion small - I was the queen of portioning when it came to bulk. I would buy large packs of frozen tortellini (another godsend on busy nights) or meat, take it home and spend a little time measuring, weighing and freezing a lot of food. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run and you will love that you can have a different meal every night instead of having to eat the same thing just to use it up. 
  4. Beans really are magic - I'm serious! Nothing will cost so little but fill you up so much. Even if you go the "expensive" route and buy canned beans, you're still going to get a lot of bang for your buck. Beans and rice will keep you full, can be made dozens of different ways, the leftovers freeze easily and can be absolutely delicious. here is one of my favourite rice and bean recipes for you to try!
  5. Learn to make a basic homemade soup - This is a little more complicated of a food hack, but it it is a truly great idea. I hate seeing waste and I have found that one of the best ways to minimise waste is to know how to make a good soup or vegetarian chili. soups make it easy to use up some of your older veggies before they need to be binned. Soup, especially blended soup, is really easy to freeze and can be portioned out so that you aren't stuck eating soup for a week. 
There you have it; some really easy, ways to save money while you're at school. The biggest suggestion that I can make is to ensure you're using all the food you're buying and to shop wisely.

Good luck with the new school year!


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  1. Amazing advice here! I'd 100% recommend all of this as a uni student.

    Faye Jessica |

    1. Thanks Faye. This is what seven years in post-secondary teaches you. I think the smartest thing I did was learned how to make good vegetarian food; it costs way less and can be absolutely divine!

      Good luck with the school year and keep me posted!

  2. As a student, I can confirm these are ok lifesavers! Homemade soup (be it simple or not-simple) is so budget friendly as is Ramen!! Great post x


    1. Soup is so easy - everyone should learn how to make an easy vegetable soup and a simple tomato soup. After you know those, you can make almost anything. I would always have that sad head of cauliflower/ broccoli/any other veg that was sitting in my fridge and I would cut it apart, cook it to mush and spend a week taking it to school for lunch. Some worked better than others...

      Start with onions, garlic and broth, and the world is your oyster (unless you don't like oysters, then don't put them in your soup).

      Thanks for the kind words!

  3. I'm all about beans and lentils, and if you have Grocery Outlet nearby they have some amazing discounts on big bags of organic quinoa/ancient grains mixes.

    1. I LOVE my legumes as a whole. I'm more of a bean girl, but the winters see a lot of lentils and split peas.

      You are totally right on the grocery outlets. I also love quinoa and ancient grains. In school I was largely vegetarian (and am moving back that way again... only eat one or two meals a week with meat protein) so things like quinoa were a huge part of my diet.

      I haven't cooked as much with ancient grains, but I do adore wild rice (we have a ton of it in Northern Ontario) but again, it can be expensive. do you suggest somewhere to start with the Ancient grains?

      Thanks for the input. It's a great suggestion!

      Talk soon,


  4. I'm all about the homemade soups - you can make a super healthy meal in bulk, hitting all your areas of the food pyramid - and still keep the cost down, then just portion it off and freeze!

    Britt |

    1. I have one of the blenders that heats and makes soup in the blender. one of the best things in my kitchen, no doubt.

      I believe strongly everyone should know how to make a basic vegetable soup. You can make almost anything from there.