McGill Recommendations, Student Life

Help…my fridge is bare: A guide to grocery shopping as a student

Picture this: You open your kitchen fridge to find it empty. This is the third time within an hour that you’ve checked, and still, no food has magically appeared. There is nothing but a Sleeman leftover from your last pub crawl and half an apple. All those times your parents tried to teach you to cook are suddenly starting to make sense. 

Independent living comes with a host of challenges: Keeping up with laundry, regulating sleep schedules, managing the mythical “work-life balance,” and possibly the biggest task of all—feeding yourself. Given the rapidly increasing cost of living and grocery prices inflating, there are many reasons to feel unsettled at the prospect of being responsible for your own eating. This can manifest in sticking to fast food, eating fewer meals than required per day, or even missing out on essential nutrients and vitamins. But fear not, the Tribune has compiled a list of grocery shopping and food tips that’ll send you down the right aisle. 

Meal Prep, Meal Prep, Meal Prep

Planning out a week’s worth of meals before heading to the store can help streamline the shopping process and eliminate some stress when planning meals during the week. Unnecessary items may be tempting when you didn’t come up with a plan––focus on the essentials first and then branch out. When deciding what to purchase, it can be helpful to ask yourself a couple of questions, such as:

  • Can I put this in the fridge and eat it whenever?
  • How many meals can I get out of this ingredient?
  • How long will this last? 

If your purchase fits the bill, then add it to the cart!

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck: Buy Multiple Different Sauces

Instead of breezing by the sauce aisle thinking you’re too amateur to try to whip one up, maybe take a peek at a few of them. Having a variety of sauces to go with the same type of meal can be a game changer. Got a bowl of rice? Try that with butter chicken sauce, teriyaki sauce, or maybe some yellow Thai curry. Is there some leftover pasta you can’t seem to force down? Whip up some red sauce or pesto in a pan. Most sauces are inexpensive and require nothing more than a couple of minutes in a saucepan. Rice and pasta are budget-friendly and filling college staples, but you need not grow bored of them. Using different sauces will spice them up, and, when you’re comfortable, you can throw in different vegetables, and any protein you like. Okay, Gordon Ramsay!

Frozen Veggies are Your Best Friend

Staying healthy while keeping costs low is tough, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Look no further than large packs of frozen vegetables in the freezer aisle. Based on your tastes, you can opt for a bag of a specific vegetable or an assorted mix. Frozen vegetables don’t contain as much sodium as canned vegetables, and tend to be more affordable and durable than their fresh counterparts. Toss a bag into your cart, and once home, add it to a pot with water, boil for about 15 minutes, and drain. Try air-frying if you’re feeling it. There you have it: A healthy side for any meal!

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

This final tip may be corny, but it’s true. Navigating grocery stores, kitchens, and feeding yourself as a whole, can be a difficult process. Give yourself some grace, and don’t freak out when your hand slips and opens the UberEats app every once in a while. Treat yourself. 

Armed with these healthy and budget-friendly tips, your next trip to the grocery store could look like this: You have a cart filled with meal-prep-able foods, a couple of different sauces, and frozen veggies in every colour of the rainbow. You breathe a sigh of relief, you’ve done it. You’re officially an adult.

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