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9 ways to eat healthy on a student budget!

With a little know-how and planning, you can enjoy nutritious food without breaking the bank.

A female with long brown hair sits in front of a Christmas tree while holding a bowl of fruit. Aishwarya is a graduate student in Diploma of Business Administration and a Concordia Welcome Crew mentor with the Student Success Centre.

Eating on a budget is something that I am still learning how to do, but over the years I’ve learned a few tricks that helped me stay on track. Here are some quick tips on how you can keep more money in your pocket while giving your body the nutrients it needs.

1. Plan Your weekly recipes in advance

If you know you have to stretch your money for the week, meal planning can really pay off. Planning your weekly menu helps keep your pantry and refrigeratorr stocked with healthy ingredients to prepare balanced meals.

2. Shop with a list

Once you’ve planned your meals for the week, create a shopping list with the ingredients you need. Having a list makes shopping easier and faster.  It also helps you say “no” to impulse buying and only take home the items you need.

3. Use recipes with common ingredients

Using the same ingredients for multiple meals doesn’t mean they all have to taste the same.  By tactfully using different herbs and spices, you can turn common ingredients into meals with different flavours.

If your favorite protein is chicken, cook one whole chicken and use it for several different dishes. For example, you can have chicken and vegetable stir-fry one night and chicken fajitas another night.

4. Find ways to stretch your meals

You can stretch meals by making dishes that freeze well. Find delicious healthy recipes like soups and casseroles that are budget-friendly and easy to make large batches of. For example, you can make a large pot of vegetable soup or white bean chicken chili that can be eaten over the week or frozen for later. You’ll also spend less time in the kitchen.

5. Cut cost with deals

Deals are a great way to save on your grocery bill.  Check flyers, mobile apps and websites for deals on foods that are on your list. In addition, stores like Metro, Provigo and Bulk Barn offer student discounts if you show your student ID. I recommend using Flipp, Too Good To Go and Salewhale for deals in your area.

6. Compare prices

It isn’t widely known, but some grocery stores offer price-matching. All you have to do is present a flyer price and the cashier will make the adjustment. One app to help with this is Shopsavvy.  I also like comparing prices on generic and brand name products to see if there is a difference before deciding on what to buy.

Another thing I’ve learned is that foods sold in single-serve packaging often cost more than buying the larger or “family size” version.

7. Select foods with plant-based protein

Beans, lentils and other legumes are inexpensive protein foods that can easily be used in meals. Not only are they among the best sources of plant proteins, but are also inexpensive. Pro tip: it’s even cheaper if you cook dry beans yourself.

8. Limit highly processed foods

Highly processed foods are usually low in vitamins and minerals and can cost more. Although they save time, pre-packaged foods such as grated cheese and pre-seasoned meat typically cost more. Prepare nutritious meals at home as much as possible.

9. Save money and eat healthy on campus

The People's Potato and Hive Free Lunch offer free vegan meals on weekdays at SGW and Loyola campus respectively. There are also several community resources that can help those who are struggling with finding affordable food. Check out these affordable food resources.

For more on getting ready for your first year, consult the Welcome Guide for New Concordians.

Connect with the Welcome Crew mentors for support throughout first year! 


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