Eat well, save money: 11 tips

Student affairs
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Health and wellness
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A student carrying a healthy plate of food.
In the final stretch before exams, with your student budget dwindling fast, the Health Promotion and Education team offers advice on how to eat well to fuel your body and mind — without breaking the bank. Power up your meal prep with budget-friendly tips as uOttawa marks Nutrition Month.

1. Make a weekly meal plan and shop accordingly

As a first tip, Magalie Fournier, peer wellness leader of the Nutritional and Physical Health team, suggests that students should make a meal plan before going grocery shopping. You can then use it to make a grocery list comprised of only necessary items for the week. Try this meal planner.

2. Shop smart

Look for coupons in weekly flyers, or apps like Flipp, and add these deals to your grocery list.

3. Buy in bulk

Buying items in bulk can be cheaper in the long run. Consider bringing your own containers. True — it may be cost more at first. Think of key staples: olive oil, rice, potatoes, carrots, apples, flour, sugar, nuts, canned tomatoes, pasta, dried fruit, big block of parmesan, balsamic vinegar, etc.

4. Freeze strategically

Consider freezing items, including bread, to preserve them. Or make a huge batch of sauce, curry, lentils or chili that you can freeze in portions. That way, you’ll have ready-made, healthy meals when you’re in a study crunch.

5. Attend nutrition events

Knowledge is power. Make sure you participate in our Nutrition Month events. Join the Breakfast Club. Keep an eye out for similar events starting in the fall.

6. Cook at home as much as you can

Here are some cheap and easy recipes:

Pro tip: Pick up a Community Meal Kit at the Wellness Lounge (UCU 205) and cook for yourself at home.

7. Avoid highly processed foods

This is a win all around. Highly processed foods like cookies, sugary cereals, chips and processed meats contain excess sodium, sugars or saturated fat. Not great for your body and mind. They’re also often more expensive, with a lot of excess packaging.

8. Buy in-season produce

Fresh strawberries in January? Prioritize in-season produce as a cost-effective way to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies.

9. Make your own salad dressing

Try mixing 3 parts oil, 2 parts vinegar and 1 part flavour — garlic, lemon, oregano or basil.

10. Make your own coffee

Sure, it’s so tempting to indulge in a coffee on the go for that extra energy boost before an exam. Again, if you buy in bulk and have a good coffee maker, get into the habit of tanking up on caffeine at home to start your day. Invest in an Italian Bialetti Moka pot, or a similar product  (or put it on your birthday wish list). Mix half and half moka and hot water. Boom! That’ll get you through the day.

Pro tip: Bring your own reusable mug and check out Muggy Mornings for free coffee on Wednesdays at the Wellness Lounge (UCU 205).

11. Know where there’s support

For extra nutrition education and support, you can access the Personalized Health Education Program at the Student Health and Wellness Centre. If you’re really struggling to make ends meet, try to stay positive and don’t blame yourself. The UOSO Food Bank runs a volunteer food cupboard at 85 University to provide emergency food relief to uOttawa students and their families.