The starving student: How to stay healthy on a budget

You know how every Sunday night, you vow to yourself that you are going to eat healthy this week? No Dominos, no late-night drinking binges — just lots of vegetables, salads and those perfect smoothie bowls Instagram foodies make that are actually impossible to recreate (believe me, I’ve tried). But then you go to the grocery store, and see the higher prices in the healthy aisles and all the cheap frozen pizzas. You think to yourself that next week sounds like a good time to start eating better. It’s inevitable and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re lying! It can be hard to stay healthy on a budget, but it’s definitely doable.

Establish your own budget

Not everyone has the exact same spending ability, so it’s important to determine your own. Break it down into a weekly plan and stick to it. If your budget is $100 a week, don’t go consistently over for the first two weeks of the month and then have to scrimp on the last two weeks.

Know what you want

You know how many vegetables I’ve bought and thrown out because they’ve gone bad before I cooked something that required onions? The amount is infinite. Every time before you go grocery shopping, make a list of foods you need for what you want to cook for dinner. It will help you use everything in your fridge before it goes bad.

Find a good grocery store

There are a surprising amount of grocery stores very close to campus. Safeway, Save-On, Whole Foods, Loblaws, No Frills and the Nest grocery store are all within a few kilometre-radius. Whether your priority is cheaper food or great quality, these grocery stores are bound to cover it all. There are also two markets in West Point Grey, catered specifically to fruit and veggies, as well as an organic butcher across the street.

Find recipes you actually like

There’s no point in buying something you don’t like just because it’s healthy and you think you’ll be able to force yourself to eat it. Don’t waste your money on food that’s going to end up in the garbage.  

Commit to cooking

It is really easy to just order sushi or Chinese food for dinner that requires no cleanup — it is certainly a time-saver instead of cooking your own dinner. However, this is a waste of both your money and the perfectly good food sitting in your fridge. Take a homework or Netflix break and cook!   

It’s really important to keep an eye on how much you’re spending on food, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Come the end of March, I’m always just staring at my chequing account, wondering where all of my money went and it’s normally spent on going out for food because I can’t be bothered to cook for myself. It will save you heaps of money and keep you healthier in the long run.