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Cooking and Grocery Shopping Tips for First-Year Students

One of the biggest changes that comes with moving away to university is having to purchase, prepare, and cook your own meals for the first time. Figuring out these tasks can be a challenge and, as you’ll quickly learn, they can also be very expensive.

Below are some tips to help first-year students get started in preparing their own meals and developing cost saving habits when it comes to food.

1. Invest in basic ingredients: It may feel unnecessary at first to spend your funds on pantry basics. However, the reason they are considered basics is because they are included in tons of recipes. Although it may cost some money upfront, these ingredients will last you several weeks to months and allow you to make so many recipes. Some of the pantry essentials to keep on-hand include:

  • Flour

  • Sugar

  • Cooking oil

  • Baking soda

  • Seasonings (e.g., paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes)

2. Create weekly meal plans and grocery lists: It only takes a few minutes to plan your meals and grocery lists, and you’ll end up saving a lot of money and time in the long run- both of which are things university students are notoriously short of. An extra quick tip- when organizing your weekly meal schedule, try to plan dishes that use similar ingredients, as this helps prevent added costs and unnecessary food waste.

3. Use flyers and phone apps: When grocery shopping for the first time, you may not have a concept of what’s considered a “good” price or not. That’s okay! This is something you’ll learn from experience. However, as you begin to become more familiar with food prices, checking out flyers and grocery store apps will help you spot the deals that will save you a few dollars during your grocery trip (keep in mind that a "few dollars" quickly adds up!).

4. Freeze food into individual portions: Although leftovers can be great the next day, you may not feel like having Monday’s spaghetti for the rest of the week. As a student, you can save so much time and money by freezing leftover food into individual portions Just be sure to take your frozen meal out of the freezer 24 - 48 hours before you plan on having it, as it will likely take this long to fully defrost!

5. Make time for cooking: With the demands of school, many students feel they don’t have enough time to plan and cook their meals. However, making time to prepare healthy meals at home is important in preventing poor food choices, reducing the amount of money spent on food, and keeping the mind and body healthy.

Blog Written by Summer Club Staff, Morgan M.


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