September 24, 2010
Let’s pretend for just a minute. It’s the weekend and you’re sick of the food on campus, but you certainly don’t want to order Chinese. It’s nearing supper time, but you’re not jonesing for “normal” college eats like pizza. You want something fresh, something healthy, something you can recognize (and we all know that doesn’t come from any cafeteria on campus). You want to (brace yourself) cook something! But how can you do this?! How can you afford to buy tasty treats when you’re on a budget? Besides, aren’t grocery stores for moms and their screaming kids in the carts?
Give me cookies, woman
Well, my friend, never fear. There’s a way you can buy groceries on a college budget so you can safely satisfy your craving for recognizable, tasty food. Here are my top tips for anyone (not just college kids!) to reduce your grocery bill so you can afford tuition and textbooks.
1) Don’t go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Okay, I know this one’s a bit obvious. We know these stores are more expensive from the get go. If you don’t need to buy specifically gluten free or organic products that you can’t find anywhere else, then don’t go there. You will be sucked in by the hot bar. Or the vegan cookie dough.
2) Buy local, local, and local. You know what’s fun? Going to the farmer’s market! It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning (as long as you’re not nursing a hangover… *cough*) and it’s a good money saver. I bought 6 local, organic, hugh jass cucumbers for a dollar once. It made me a happy bunny.
3) Clip coupons. They’re not just for your grandma anymore.
4) If you have a roommate, see if they’d be interested in chipping in and buying food to cook together. This works especially well if you live in an apartment and have more than one. You guys can totally make an awesome meal and split the bill at the supermarket. Even if you only make a joint meal once or twice a week, you’ll save some cash.
5) Talk to your parental units. Even if you’ve got a job, money can be tight. Parents (usually) understand this. Ask if they’d be willing to send you a monthly stipend to help cover some food costs. A little goes a long way.
6) Buy frozen veggies. I know, I know, fresh is always better. But if you’re in class all day long, then go to work, then have epic parties and occasionally fit homework somewhere in between, your veggie drawer might be a little neglected. If you don’t have time to always cook fresh picked produce, go for frozen ones (with no salt added!). They’ll keep for longer and they’re cheaper so sometimes you can even go organic. Woah, slow down now…
7) Canned veggies are okay, too! I regularly stock up on green beens, canned mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, and beans. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
8 ) At the supermarket, go for the store’s own brand. Depending on the chain, their own knock-offs are usually pretty darn tasty. Plus, if they have reward card programs, you can score sweet deals such as buying 2 cans of green beans and getting 3 free. I may or may not have bought 10 for the price of 4. Hey, I was set.
9) Look in the clearance. Yeah, I said it. I went there. No, don’t you dare buy those apples that are bruised just because they’re .50 cents. I’m saying really look through that clearance section. You can find some good stuff for killer prices on a good day. We’re talking anything from hair care to lady things to produce. People get to the register and realize they actually didn’t want that asparagus. Employees will throw the food away or if they’re not feeling lazy, it’ll go on the restock or clearance shelf.
10) Don’t buy organic. Shock and horror, I know, that’s probably the worst advice you’ve ever gotten. But seriously, if you can’t afford organic produce, it’s not the end of the world. To be honest, I can’t afford to buy all organic all the time and I don’t know many people who do, so I do what I can. I use this rule of thumb when buying fresh produce: if it has skin that you’ll eat and comes from underground, buy organic. After I check the frozen section.
So there you have it. Ways to be super cheap when you’re buying groceries. I can’t help you with the whole “wanting to slap that screaming kid” problem, though.
What’s your number 1 money saving tip?
September 7, 2010
Being in college has definitely made me a lazier person, especially when it comes to cleaning. Last year, I discovered that having an unmade bed is acceptable (shock! horror!) and that shirts can totally be worn multiple times…. just as long as they don’t smell. Of course, I’ve also learned a lot of other fancy stuff, not just academically. Allow me to share:
1) If you can go 3 weeks without doing laundry, either you’ve got a sh!t ton of underwear or you’re a sick, sick person.
2) However, if you can go 3 weeks without having to lug your trash to the dumpsters, you’re a champ.
3) It is perfectly okay to drink apple juice straight from the container if it saves having to wash a cup.
4) You shouldn’t feel guilty for picking up a quarter you find on the sidewalk. That’s laundry money!
5) Taking a tupperware to the Caf on hummus night (!!!) is perfectly fine. Just don’t let the worker minions see you.
On the other hand, I’ve learned something important! If you can get a job as a full time student, you’re lucky. If you can get a job that you love, you’re probably lying. But I’m not… I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful family that needed a nanny for their adorable 11 year old. My old RA, who transferred, recommended me to them and I was fortunate enough to land the job. I’ll just tell you this: I LOVE IT! I work 2-3 days a week, picking her up from school and driving her to dance class, then coming home afterward and tutoring her. And to think, I was nearly desperate enough to apply for a job at the library…
The only downside to the job is that I get back around 7 sometimes. And I eat at 6. Now, my tummy does not like to have a disrupted eating schedule, so I usually stash a Larabar or piece of fruit in my purse to tide me over until I get back on campus for dindins. Sometimes I go to the caf, and other times I realize I have a bag of spinach that needs to be used in my fridge.
There’s no way I’m letting that $4 sucker go to waste (Thanks for your expensive prices, Earth Fare >.<) so I decided to have some veggie POWA in my dinner today! This meal is pretty great for someone lazy busy like me who doesn’t want to spend a long time cooking after work and loves something easy yet healthy. You could probably feed this to your kids and trick them, too. Bwahaha. This isn’t really much of a recipe, just a “throw everything together,” kind of thing, but still. It’s tasty, and you don’t argue with tasty things.
It even says it’s tasty on the box. No arguing.
Easy Peasy Mac ‘n’ Chreese the College Way
You’re gonna need:
1 box of mac ‘n’ chreese
1 can of no-salt added vegetables
1 bag of spinach (preferably the kind that’s not on it’s way out)
A splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk
First, set your pot to boil with a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil just to make sure that nothing sticks to it. Doesn’t it suck when that happens? Once it’s boiling, cook your shells according to the box directions.
This stuff is great in a pinch!
When the pasta is alllllmost al dente (you have to say that in a Giada de Laurentiis accent, by the way. Overannunciate!), toss in your can o veggies so they can heat through.
Don’t judge me!
Then in the last 30 seconds or so, toss in all of your spinach. Remember, it looks like a lot when you put it into the water, but you only get a little in the end. It’s like a bag of chips. Half of it’s always air. >=(
Post drain-age, pour in your choice of non-dairy milk and the cheeze sauce. I like unsweetened or unsweetened vanilla because I usually add a ton of maple syrup to my cereal or oatmeal, so I don’t want to be on a mega sugar high from syrup + almond milk.
I drink this shiz straight up, yo.
Don’t be alarmed by my man-hands. Or the look of the cheeze sauce.
In the end, you’ll get this pile of wonder!
I like to top mine with a bunch of dried basil and oregano.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the last epic college discovery!
Putting leftovers in a plastic cup is Classy with a capital C.
What’s your favorite college memory?
September 4, 2010
Not that game!
And certainly not a LoveGame!
No, the game we’re gonna play is called What’s in a Vegan College Student’s Fridge?!
I’ll give you three choices. Take your pick!
Does you think my fridge looks like Option 1?
Well, I do like to have a good time… 😉
But then again, I’m a broke student! I can’t afford all this vegan food.
Or Option 3?
Yeah. Screw veganism, y’all.
If you guessed door number 4, you’re correct. And sneaky!
Boring but delicious.
I’ve got my favorites: a hugh jass tub of crack-hummus, POM juice, chocolate hazelnut milk (you MUST buy it. So good.), Trader Joe’s soy yogurt, apple juice, and spinach.
With the obligatory Naked juice!
Funny side story: Roomie and I are obsessssssed with this stuff. We frequently go to the campus c-store and proclaim that we are “going to get naked” in front of other people. And yes, we’re sober when we do it.
But you guys know I’m not supa healthy all the time. My fridge merely houses the eats I like to have available on a daily basis. Enter the goodie drawer!
Looks pretty innocent, right?
Everything you’re about to see does in fact fit in this drawer. It is just very carefully hidden underneath a layer of “nasty” vegan foods that other people probably wouldn’t dare touch (Seriously, am I the only person on this planet who eats unsalted rice cakes with seaweed?!). Built in security. Booyah.
Life is sweet.
Even sweeter with a giant bowl of fresh fruit to munch on!
The tower of dry goods!
I ❤ bulk Clif bars and mega packs of gum. I’m a gum fiend.
Unfortunately, I’m not such a big fan of these carob chips. Anybody else like ’em?
In other news, I’m sorry my posts have been few and far between. I’ve been pretty busy with classes starting back up, helping run my school’s vegetarian society, a new job, workouts, and my social life beginning once again. Speaking of workouts, I’m thinking about doing a 10k on the 11th. Okay, I’ve been *thinking* about this race for a few months now and sporadically “training” by doing interval workouts on the treadmill. What do you think – should I go for it?
Also, who actually thinks this guy is actually scary?
Question of the Day: What’s your favorite game show?