Grad school was my adventure into a lot of new things- new school, new city, new friends, and one of the biggest changes: a new kitchen! My four years of undergrad were spent in and out of dining halls, and looking back, I wish I made more time to cook for myself. However, I was stoked to have my own kitchen upon coming to grad school, and I was ready to cook any and everything-until I saw my first few grocery receipts, that is, and I realized that my endeavors to cook constantly could not last for long. After some time though, I found a way to grocery shop that satisfied my stomach and my savings account:
Plan, Plan, Plan
Gone are the days of just wandering into the grocery store, aimlessly filling my cart with whatever looked tasty. Thinking through my grocery list ahead of time helped me think about what I actually needed while also saving me time at the store! This will take a little bit of strategizing beforehand, but can really help you to prioritize your purchases and curb impulsive splurges.
What’s better than a tasty grocery list? An efficient grocery list!! Especially if only cooking for only one, finding multiple uses for a few ingredients helps to avoid wasting food, and can even save time when it comes to prepping for meals! Here are some of my favorite foods to make with only a few ingredients: (I modified some recipes from Tasty.co, but there are tons of other websites with receipts to suit your own dietary needs!)
Breakfast: Mini Frittatas made with eggs, cheese, and bell peppers
Lunch: Black Bean Burgers made with black beans, bell peppers, cheese, buns, and a side of rice
Dinner: Rice Stuffed Peppers made with bell peppers, rice, beans, and cheese
Cooking = Endless combinations! (okay, maybe not totally endless, but just enough to add lots of variety to your personal menu!)
Channeling My Inner Extreme Coupon-er
With a pre-planned list, an hour with some scissors and a handful of coupon apps later, I soon began tailoring my purchases to fit what could save me money. This has been a tried and true way to limit spending, and there’s always a new deal every week! Unfortunately, a coupon may not always be available when I need it, but it never hurt to double check beforehand!
Buying groceries in season helps to get the freshest quality produce the lowest price. Not only that, but eating seasonally is a great way to eat sustainably and support local farmers! Buying in-season can also help you be creative and really indulge in those seasonal specialties!
Getting a Membership or Rewards Card
Signing up for my store’s program has helped tremendously! It has helped me to access member-only discounts and has helped me to really stretch my dollar whenever I shop. Additionally, some stores will give you points for your purchases, which can later be redeemed as discounts on gas or used towards other online purchases! These memberships, depending on the store, are usually free to join, so it’s definitely a win-win situation from many angles.
Store Food Properly
Starting to smell something funky in the fridge? A classic sign that it’s time to toss (or better yet, compost) food, this also means tossing money out as well. Take time to make sure that your food is stored properly to increase their longevity. There are countless resources I’ve found on the internet about food storage, and being intentional about storage has helped to save me from the heartbreak of having to dispose of food far too soon before it could be enjoyed (RIP to all the lettuce I did not get to eat in time).
Come to the Garden
Did you know Rollins has its very own garden? Located behind the Grace Crum Rollins Building, there’s always a fresh find! Come lend a hand to help plant and harvest fresh food with your fellow classmates! There’s always something tasty growing right in Rollins’ backyard!
These are only a few of many money-saving tricks out there, but this is what has worked for me! There’s a lot to keep track of in grad school, and saving money on food has helped me to have balanced meals without breaking the bank. However, if in the event you are in need of assistance with access to food, there are a handful of resources around campus, including the Bread Coffeehouse’s Food Pantry and #EmoryBandTogether. More resources are also available through Emory’s Center for Student Success Programs and Services.
P.S. Shout out to Sam Saxena (1st Year BSHE) for this pun-derful, grain-inspired title!