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As students, we all know how hard it is to deal with school, work, and other responsibilities all at the same time. And on top of that, everything is SO expensive! I wished for the longest time that I could save money without having to reduce my spending habits, so I decided to change the way I spend my money on food. These tips have been huge money and life savers these past few weeks, and I hope they’ll help you out too!

Meal Prep

Knowing what you’ll cook for a week or more will definitely help you spend less on groceries. You’ll be able to make a grocery list and (maybe) only buy what’s actually on it (hey, we all cave once in a while when we see our favourite snacks on sale). Also, meal prepping can allow you to find recipes that need similar ingredients so you don’t simply buy something and use it once. Plus, planning what you’re going to cook for the week gives you the opportunity to plan your grocery trips in advance and know which places offer the best deals near you. If you’re lucky enough, maybe you’ll go back home and find out that your parents now have a Costco membership, and you can bulk buy the stuff you would need for your upcoming meals! If you don’t know where to look, Pinterest is a great resource to find meals requiring similar ingredients!

Store leftovers properly

One thing that could save you lots of money is knowing how to store your groceries (especially your produce). Do some quick research to find out whether an ingredient should go in the fridge or freezer to last longer, and whether your vegetables need to be stored in water or in the pantry. Knowing this could help your groceries last longer! For instance, a loaf of bread will stay fresher longer if it’s kept in the fridge, and your celeries and carrots will stay crispier if kept in water.

Find Sales

One of my top tips is to check flyers and figure out what’s on sale! I typically base my meals on those items to make sure I’m saving as much money as possible. For example, if a pack of mixed greens is on sale you could make a salad, a buddha bowl, and you could use it as a garnish in a burger. Being creative with your food will also help a lot!

compare prices

This tip can be tricky, because deals or value packs could actually have you paying more than you’d like. Groceries are usually priced by weight or quantity (which can make buying for one extra tough), so taking a quick look and comparing brands and quantities could be useful! I usually compare the prices of basic pantry items because they last a long time and I use them often, so I’d rather have a larger quantity for a lower rate.

use Coupons

Alright, hear me out on this one before you throw tomatoes at me. I know we’ve all seen those shows where people drop their bills from 500$ to 5$ with hundreds of coupons, but what I’m telling you here isn’t the same. There are tons of ways to use coupons or cash-back apps to save money on your groceries. You can find coupons for items you need in the aisles, but most of them will require a bit more work and you’ll have to do some digging online to find them. I personally haven’t found my go-to coupon routine, but I do know that I like the app “Checkout 51”. The app basically gives you a set amount of money back when you buy specific products, and you can cash out checks when you reach a certain amount. I also highly recommend getting gift cards to your usual grocers. You could ask for them whenever you win a “pick-a-store” gift card giveaway, or simply ask for them for any events you celebrate.

check out the food bank at uottawa

If you need it, know that uOttawa offers a food bank. You could get eggs, bread, cereals and much more! If you want more information, you can go give them a quick follow on Insta: @food_bank_aliment. The way they work right now is that you fill out a form telling them which products you’d want, and they’ll email you your pick-up time. This service is free of charge, so it will obviously help lower your bills, but it has limited spots, so you shouldn’t rely on it weekly–try to give everyone a chance to benefit from it.

There are always ways to improve your spending habits, therefore saving more money, but now you might just be able to save enough to allow extra outings in the future! Saving money might seem hard at first, but believe me, Pinterest quickly becomes your best friend to find recipes, and you get used to your grocery store’s layout in no time!

Maude St-Pierre

U Ottawa '25

Maude is a first-year Second Language Teaching student. She is a big Disney fan and tries to live life as zero-waste as possible. She always complains that she's lacking money, but is always willing to spend it on tattoos or concerts!
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