Eating Well, Spending Less: Grocery Shopping on a Student Budget


Quote the Raven: Regan
Major in English, Minor in American Sign Language and Women's Studies


I love to cook for myself. Whenever I’m home on holidays, you can find me in the kitchen making myself a nice meal (and sometimes for my family, too). My one issue with cooking while living by myself? The cost of groceries. Luckily enough, I really like grocery shopping, especially during the pandemic – it’s really my only destination outside of the house. But for those of you who hate grocery shopping, don’t know how to shop smart or have a hard time budgeting grocery money, this post is for you!

Use Your Resources

You may not have the time to fully get flyers and coupons – I know I don’t. But a lot of places like Walmart do price matching! A good resource for this is the app Flipp. Flipp virtually takes flyers from all the local grocery stores and price matches for you, so you can go to one store and get the best deals from all of them. Another great way to save money is rewards cards, like PC Optimum points. There are a lot of grocery stores in Ottawa – try hunting for the one that best suits your budget.

Meal Preparation

A good way to manage your grocery money is to meal prep. I personally don’t meal prep, because one of the cons is eating the same meal for the week – but it is a great way to know ahead of time what you’ll be eating and it’s a great idea for shopping. One way I do meal prep is with produce! When I buy produce, I like to prep it all at once by washing it, cutting it up and storing it in a container. That way, when I want a healthy snack, it’s easily accessible and I find I’m more likely to eat it. For more ideas on eating well on a budget, visit the ‘How to Save Money on Groceries’ article from Awards and Financial Aid!

Shop Smart

Make sure to shop the sales! Even if you don’t meal prep, try to plan your weekly meals around what is on sale where you shop. On that note, buy things that you know you’ll eat and are versatile! Be sure to plan meals with your produce so it doesn’t go bad and to waste. Things like rice and beans are cheap, last a long time and can be made in a bunch of different ways.

And don’t forget, remote learning is overwhelming, and you deserve to treat yourself every once in a while! Whether that be purchasing something a little unhealthier from the store or ordering from Ubereats, everything is okay in moderation. Make sure to budget your money wisely – for more tips on that, check out the CU Money Blog!

To help you guys out, I’ll include the link to one of my favourite healthy, delicious and affordable meals: stuffed bell peppers. These can easily be modified for dietary restrictions, are super filling and are a healthy, affordable alternative to fast food. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a love of all things cooking!

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