For most people, back to school means absurd costs for textbooks, a return to early morning classes and late nights finishing assignments. But for some fortunate â€“ or unfortunate â€“ people back to school can mean moving (back) out on their own or a complicated schedule that leaves us to fend for ourselves when it comes to meals. As a University student with limited cooking experience, and five months of feeding myself under my belt, this is my personal guide to surviving not only efficiently, but also on a budget.
Invest in a Cookbook â€“ This is an important step aimed at those of you who are branching out on your own. A good quality cookbook will not only serve as a step by step guide for those of us who donâ€™t really know what weâ€™re doing in the kitchen â€“ but also as a great source of inspiration for days when you just donâ€™t know what to make. Take your time at the bookstore to choose a cookbook that suites your needs. By reading through the cookbook before buying it you will ensure that it will provide you with options that not only suit your dietary needs, but meals that you will actually WANT to make. Nothing is worse than being disappointed with your cookbook and being left on your own to sort out dinner.
Plan your Meals in Advance â€“ With the guide of your carefully chosen cookbook, try and plan out at least one of your meals per day for 3-4 days. By planning meals out in advance, you will decrease the chances of making easy, but not so healthy options when it gets to mealtime. This will also help with grocery shopping, making sure that you have all the necessary ingredients on hand to make a healthy and delicious meal.
Grocery Shopping â€“ This is where weighing your options between budget and convenience becomes a priority. Take your time and do your research as to which grocery stores have the best prices. In my experience Price Smart and Superstore are two of the more budget friendly options. However donâ€™t be fooled by the cheap prices for some items. Be sure to spend the money on good quality fruits and vegetables. Sometimes this will result in trips to multiple grocery stores however it could end up saving you money as good quality fruits and vegetables are likely to last longer when stored properly.
Make Enough for Leftovers â€“ When you go through the effort to make a more complicated meal like homemade spaghetti, be sure to make enough for leftovers. Â These are great for days when you have late class, or just donâ€™t feel like cooking. Throwing leftovers in the freezer will keep them for longer and make for quick, easy, delicious meals that can keep you going for days.
Keep it Simple – The best piece of advice I can give anyone whoâ€™s just starting out with the self feeding is keep it simple. Trying to come up with extravagant, exotic meals generally just creates more stress than is necessary, while sending the cost of your groceries skyrocketing. By sticking to simple, healthy meals you can enjoy not only cooking and eating on your own, but paying your grocery bill.