Grocery Shopping for a Broke Student?

Hi friends, I'm one of those broke College students up in Canada land and would love to hear your tips for eating/meal planning on the cheaper side :)

I don't eat dairy as I'm lactose intolerant or much meat as that also makes me feel sick and is expensive but I'm starting to get tired of eating one bowl of pasta every day lol.
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Replies

  • sgtx81
    sgtx81 Posts: 466 Member
    Ramen noodles, frozen veggies, eggs, bread, chicken leg quarters (most places I've seen have em for $6 or $7 for a 10-pound bag), rice, dried beans, cabbage, carrots, butter, salt, soy sauce, hot sauce. You can do all kinds of things on a meager budget. I'm not sure what all you have growing up there, but you can also find wild dandelion greens, wild chives, etc. to add to your diet. If you have Amish communities up there nearby, they sell food for excellent prices too.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,836 Member
    Do you have cheaper Asian or Arab shops in town? Those might be good places to get dry products in bulk. Is meat or veggies more expensive where you are? Can you get either frozen at a lower price?

    I can only comment on the UK, but I manage on roughly 80-110 pounds per month on all groceries. Veggies are often very cheap, especially at stores such as Aldi and Lidl. I buy what's on offer and in season. Meat is quite expensive, thus I eat fairly small portions. Tinned tomatoes are cheaper than fresh ones, and often taste better. I make a lot of dishes involving pulses, Asian noodles, rice, pasta, bulk them up with veggies and add some meat or fish. I usually cook for 2-4 days as it saves time and money. A simple curry doesn't need to be drowned in sauce. if you find an acceptable curry sauce then throw in a lot of veggies and/or cheap protein for a few days. Left over veggies? Throw them in an ovendish with a bit of oil, some potato or sweet potato and a breaded fish makes a nice dinner.
  • AngelxAnnih
    AngelxAnnih Posts: 57 Member
    yirara wrote: »
    Do you have cheaper Asian or Arab shops in town? Those might be good places to get dry products in bulk. Is meat or veggies more expensive where you are? Can you get either frozen at a lower price?

    I can only comment on the UK, but I manage on roughly 80-110 pounds per month on all groceries. Veggies are often very cheap, especially at stores such as Aldi and Lidl. I buy what's on offer and in season. Meat is quite expensive, thus I eat fairly small portions. Tinned tomatoes are cheaper than fresh ones, and often taste better. I make a lot of dishes involving pulses, Asian noodles, rice, pasta, bulk them up with veggies and add some meat or fish. I usually cook for 2-4 days as it saves time and money. A simple curry doesn't need to be drowned in sauce. if you find an acceptable curry sauce then throw in a lot of veggies and/or cheap protein for a few days. Left over veggies? Throw them in an ovendish with a bit of oil, some potato or sweet potato and a breaded fish makes a nice dinner.

    Ooh that's great! I didn't know you could store noodles for more than a day. I think there might be an Asian food market downtown I'll have to check it out :)
  • AngelxAnnih
    AngelxAnnih Posts: 57 Member
    Orphia wrote: »
    Are you trying to lose weight?

    For inexpensively good food:

    Avoid expensive organic products. "Organic" is a marketing scam and is no healthier nor better for the environment than conventionally grown food.

    Frozen veggies are just as good for you as fresh, and usually cheaper and last longer.

    Yes, weight loss is the goal :)

    Frozen veggies aren't bad it's like 99c a bag sometimes so I'll definitely have to grab some.
  • RuNaRoUnDaFiEld
    RuNaRoUnDaFiEld Posts: 5,864 Member
    edited October 2017
    Cottage cheese
    Lentils
    Chick peas
    Buy whole chicken, cook it and shred it in to 150g servings
    Gammon joints, as above
    Seasonal veg
    Eggs


    OOPS! Missed the lacto intolerance part. I will leave the suggestions for lurkers reading though.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    edited October 2017
    No matter where you live and what you like - avoid hyped-up items (anything that is more expensive because it claims to be "natural", "organic", "low"/"high" etc), aimed at children or nouveau riche, and decide how much (time vs money) you really save by buying prepped (cut, pre-cooked etc) food.

    Look at the price per pound, especially when you consider items on sale. Large quantities are usually cheaper per pound, but don't buy more than you can store and eat before it spoils (frozen foods keep for a long time, and canned and dry goods for eternity). Conversely, nothing is worth it if it causes you to overeat. You use different foods in different amounts, so different price per pound for pepper and flour is irrelevent - compare similar items. Best before-date is a guideline for quality, not the day the food turns toxic - use common sense.

    Don't restrict yourself to recipes - learn to cook. Plan and balance your meals (you need to get enough of a range of nutrients every day, but overdoing it is wasteful), cook/prepare just what you need, and eat up everything (that includes to not drain fat, and to eat broccoli stalks). Be flexible so that you can use whatever is available and cheap and on hand - look into "reverse meal planning".
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,836 Member
    yirara wrote: »
    Do you have cheaper Asian or Arab shops in town? Those might be good places to get dry products in bulk. Is meat or veggies more expensive where you are? Can you get either frozen at a lower price?

    I can only comment on the UK, but I manage on roughly 80-110 pounds per month on all groceries. Veggies are often very cheap, especially at stores such as Aldi and Lidl. I buy what's on offer and in season. Meat is quite expensive, thus I eat fairly small portions. Tinned tomatoes are cheaper than fresh ones, and often taste better. I make a lot of dishes involving pulses, Asian noodles, rice, pasta, bulk them up with veggies and add some meat or fish. I usually cook for 2-4 days as it saves time and money. A simple curry doesn't need to be drowned in sauce. if you find an acceptable curry sauce then throw in a lot of veggies and/or cheap protein for a few days. Left over veggies? Throw them in an ovendish with a bit of oil, some potato or sweet potato and a breaded fish makes a nice dinner.

    Ooh that's great! I didn't know you could store noodles for more than a day. I think there might be an Asian food market downtown I'll have to check it out :)

    A cooked pasta doesn't go off in a day. As my kitchen is usually unheated I might leave a portion of pasta in the pot. But usually I put it into portion bowls or lock 'n lock boxes and put them into my fridge. Ok, I must admit that I'm sometimes a bit odd (well, chaotic!). The oldest pasta I've ever eaten was 3 days old and not in the fridge. Probably not recommended, but I didn't get sick either.
  • Muscleflex79
    Muscleflex79 Posts: 1,919 Member
    where in Canada are you? shop one of the cheaper grocery stores, shop sales, use coupons, look for stuff marked down, etc. - all of that adds up to a lot of savings, combined with some of the food choices above.
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    No matter where you live and what you like - avoid hyped-up items (anything that is more expensive because it claims to be "natural", "organic", "low"/"high" etc), aimed at children or nouveau riche, and decide how much (time vs money) you really save by buying prepped (cut, pre-cooked etc) food.

    Look at the price per pound, especially when you consider items on sale. Large quantities are usually cheaper per pound, but don't buy more than you can store and eat before it spoils (frozen foods keep for a long time, and canned and dry goods for eternity). Conversely, nothing is worth it if it causes you to overeat. You use different foods in different amounts, so different price per pound for pepper and flour is irrelevent - compare similar items. Best before-date is a guideline for quality, not the day the food turns toxic - use common sense.


    When using coupons, the price per unit calculation is different and often a smaller size becomes more economical.

    For example

    There is an occasional recurring coupon for .75 off Dawn(dish soap)--ANY size.

    Normally the large 75 oz size is most economical at 8.00 . 10 cents an oz
    With the coupon, the 8 oz size at 1.00. Becomes much more economical


  • Ssg25
    Ssg25 Posts: 21 Member
    Amy's soup, eggs, frozen vegetables, frozen berries, oatmeal, cheerios/granola, peanut butter, whole wheat crackers, brown rice, rice cakes, kashi/kind granola bars, popcorn, baby carrots, apples and bananas are all cheap too
  • shans34
    shans34 Posts: 535 Member
    Here in Canada food is crazy expensive. On a week of $50, this is my suggestions:
    Eggs 1.99 a carton at fresh co or food basics
    Frozen veggies 2$ a bag good for two or three meals
    $10 pack of 3 1lb ground lean beef
    Potatoes
    Rice 4-5$ for a decent size bag
    Lentils $3 per bag
    Curry powder
    Coconut milk 1$ /can
    Onions
    Garlic
    Ginger
    Whole chicken (you cut it up and for one person that’s 5 meals) $8 at food basics
    Salad fixings $5-8 depending
    Dressing $2
    Oatmeal $2 for instant $3 for oats
    Light mayo 3$
    That’s a week of eating really healthy with enough left over for bread.
    Dollar tree is a good place for sauces, can turkey flakes and spices as everything is $1.25
    Good luck
  • fitoverfortymom
    fitoverfortymom Posts: 3,453 Member
    Do you have a slow cooker? That's a great way to make use of cheap beans/lentils and frozen veggies. Stock up on some broth and you can make a LOT of soup and stews for not very much money. I'm just a mom who pinches pennies with a daughter in college, and we both are big into our slow cookers and beans! My daughter is also not a big fan of meat, so the beans and lentils help with that quite a bit.

    Rice is a little pricer, but it's a nice alternative to pasta also.

    A big shout out to Oatmeal, also. And eggs. I know in the U.S., eggs are pretty cheap.
  • AngelxAnnih
    AngelxAnnih Posts: 57 Member
    where in Canada are you? shop one of the cheaper grocery stores, shop sales, use coupons, look for stuff marked down, etc. - all of that adds up to a lot of savings, combined with some of the food choices above.

    Kingston Ontario, I definitely don't do much coupon stuff because it's not as common here but maybe something to get into!
  • AngelxAnnih
    AngelxAnnih Posts: 57 Member
    Do you have a slow cooker? That's a great way to make use of cheap beans/lentils and frozen veggies. Stock up on some broth and you can make a LOT of soup and stews for not very much money. I'm just a mom who pinches pennies with a daughter in college, and we both are big into our slow cookers and beans! My daughter is also not a big fan of meat, so the beans and lentils help with that quite a bit.

    Rice is a little pricer, but it's a nice alternative to pasta also.

    A big shout out to Oatmeal, also. And eggs. I know in the U.S., eggs are pretty cheap.

    No slow cooker but I've been looking at them for months!! I really have to get one haha!
  • AngelxAnnih
    AngelxAnnih Posts: 57 Member
    shans34 wrote: »
    Here in Canada food is crazy expensive. On a week of $50, this is my suggestions:
    Eggs 1.99 a carton at fresh co or food basics
    Frozen veggies 2$ a bag good for two or three meals
    $10 pack of 3 1lb ground lean beef
    Potatoes
    Rice 4-5$ for a decent size bag
    Lentils $3 per bag
    Curry powder
    Coconut milk 1$ /can
    Onions
    Garlic
    Ginger
    Whole chicken (you cut it up and for one person that’s 5 meals) $8 at food basics
    Salad fixings $5-8 depending
    Dressing $2
    Oatmeal $2 for instant $3 for oats
    Light mayo 3$
    That’s a week of eating really healthy with enough left over for bread.
    Dollar tree is a good place for sauces, can turkey flakes and spices as everything is $1.25
    Good luck

    Omg I never even thought of dollar tree/dollarama. I'm over here waddling through loblaws -.-
    Definitely going to have to get some flyers and shop around.
  • deannalfisher
    deannalfisher Posts: 5,601 Member
    if you have a car - i often shop around for my weekly groceries - i get the flyers for all the stores by me (for me its safeway, giant and shoppers) and then I look at all of them to figure out what is on sale; shoppers tends to have better deals on shelf stable items (rice/beans than others)

    i know lots of ppl swear by Aldi - but i've been disappointed in their options/quality (bread that went moldy within a day)

    meal plan - budgetbytes is a great website because she breaks down cost to cook each meal
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    shans34 wrote: »
    Here in Canada food is crazy expensive. On a week of $50, this is my suggestions:
    Eggs 1.99 a carton at fresh co or food basics
    Frozen veggies 2$ a bag good for two or three meals
    $10 pack of 3 1lb ground lean beef
    Potatoes
    Rice 4-5$ for a decent size bag
    Lentils $3 per bag
    Curry powder
    Coconut milk 1$ /can
    Onions
    Garlic
    Ginger
    Whole chicken (you cut it up and for one person that’s 5 meals) $8 at food basics
    Salad fixings $5-8 depending
    Dressing $2
    Oatmeal $2 for instant $3 for oats
    Light mayo 3$
    That’s a week of eating really healthy with enough left over for bread.
    Dollar tree is a good place for sauces, can turkey flakes and spices as everything is $1.25
    Good luck

    Omg I never even thought of dollar tree/dollarama. I'm over here waddling through loblaws -.-
    Definitely going to have to get some flyers and shop around.

    Be careful with dollar stores, some of their stuff is actually more expensive per unit.